8:00 PM, 19th August, 2005
Woody Allen films divide audiences in a unique way. There are those who will not go to see them (sometimes because of a lingering distaste after the controversies of Allen's private life in the nineties). There are those who wish he could return to his glory days of Annie Hall and Manhattan.
And then there are the fans, like me, who are just grateful for a new Woody film (even if it isn't particularly original).
Melinda and Melinda is a quality film. Its basic structure is an examination of the aspects which make a story comical or tragic. The tale revolves around Melinda (ably played by "our" Rahda Mitchell), and it plays out, Sliding Doors style, as parallel stories with similar features. The supporting players are fine too, particularly Chloe Sevigny and Will Ferrell (giving the familiar "Woody performance" this time around).
Given that Woody's most recent movies have not screened in cinemas (Hollywood Ending went straight to DVD, and Anything Else is nowhere to be seen!), it's a pleasure to see his work back on the big screen. Unless you are one of the two types of people mentioned in the first paragraph, you should get a lot out of seeing Melinda and Melinda.
10:00 PM, 19th August, 2005
OK, I'll admit it: I went to see this film because Cole Porter musicals have a special place in my heart. When I go and watch it again at Film Group, you can point and laugh, if you like, but I'll still be sitting there grinning, because this film is like lots of Cole Porter musicals at once, with the added bonus of all the details of Porter's life that the Cary Grant biopic ignored. Like the fact that Porter fancied blokes, and married a woman who accepted that - up to a point. Seeing what that point was, and how their relationship could have been other than relentless emotional hell (and it was clearly much warmer and more nuanced than that), is an excellent reason to watch De-Lovely.
Hooked yet? What if I add that lots of classic Porter songs are performed by the likes of Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Natalie Cole, Robbie Williams, and Diana Krall? And there's a very clever framing device, and Kevin Kline is fantastic as Porter: charming and distant and extravagant. He even plays the piano.