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Woody's Comeback

September 5, 2008

I stopped taking Woody Allen seriously as a film director around 1995. After Mighty Aphrodite, Allen's films seemed to taper off, becoming mawkish parodies of themselves.

So it was against my better judgment that I found myself sitting in my local movie theater the other evening watching the director's latest film, Vicky Christina Barcelona. I decided to see VCB on the basis of several personal recommendations and a handful of positive reviews. I'm really glad I went.

Romantic relationships have been a central theme in Allen's work throughout the decades, but while previous films like Annie Hall and Hannah and her Sisters painted love affairs in broad strokes, Allen flecks his canvas in VCB with subtle, shifting notes.

Not only does he mine the nature of human passions in an unflinching yet human way, but he also achieves this with humor and grace. I found myself as intoxicated by the Spanish landscapes as I was by all the performances.

Riding high on the success of VCB, the question now is, how will Allen's operatic career kick-off? This weekend I'm heading to Los Angeles to experience, among other things, Allen's first ever stab as a director of opera. He's staging Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" from Il Trittico for LA Opera. The opening night is this Saturday. Watch this space for the verdict next week. Let's hope that the director manages to tell a love story as well on stage as he's managed to this time around on screen.

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