Update: I meant to mention the staircase scene, but I forgot somehow. I wish I could find a clip. It’s incredible.
The Purple Rose of Cairo. This is a tremendous movie. If you love movies, I think it’ll stay with you. So good. Ebert agrees with me. As in Sherlock, Jr. the characters break the screen and go back and forth from the film world to reality (Allen is a science fiction filmmaker, you might recall) and wrestle with the rules and expectations on either side. There’s clever satire of movies, movie culture, movie-lovers. Much of it is bittersweet, but there’s almost always some jumping dixieland jazz playing in the background that keeps things from getting too sour. Thus, we have an escapist film about film escapism. After all, we need delusions to keep us going.
Since no one asked, here’s my ranking of Woody Allen films I’ve seen:
8½. My first Fellini. Features a nice blend of reality and the daydreams of the protagonist. I also appreciate how the protagonist-director’s anxiety and creative listlessness are undercut by the mastery of the actual director’s work. A film about being lost by someone totally in control. It is a quite beautiful film. They say it’s one of the greats
Joe Gillis: You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.
Norma Desmond: I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.
Sunset Boulevard. Not as good as I had hoped, but still interesting beginning to end.
The Cameraman. Keaton’s first film with MGM, whereupon he lost creative control and began his decline. In other words, the last of the good ones. Generally, if your movie introduces a monkey companion part of the way through, you are probably not in top form. That said, the best parts are very good: the dressing room scene and the scene at Yankee stadium (love his pitcher’s mannerisms, also check out the base-running and perfectly-timed slide into home at 2:35). It’s fun at times, but doesn’t compare with The General, Sherlock, Jr., or Our Hospitality.