Talking about ‘Manhattan’, ‘Celebrity’ is shot in black and white also, giving it a certain, classical edge. I guess this is against shooting it as colourful and flashy akin to a McDonalds Happy Meal … which, would probably be more appropriate. Does he deem celebrity culture to be a good thing? Eric Lax in ‘Conversations with Woody Allen’ gives the impression that Woody hates the celebrity culture, only going on the press junkets if he has to as part of a contract – but if he can shy away from them, he would. I cannot help but feel that Allen likes to create this beautiful look to a film – he knows how to do it well (so, a safe bet) and he has the supporting staff to make it happen. Namely Sven Nykvist – the cinematographer of many Woody Allen films, and more importantly, of Ingmar Bergman’s films. This is not ‘Cries and Whispers’. This is not ‘The Seventh Seal’. This is a Woody Allen [comedy] movie about a mid-life crisis. The balance is incorrect and doesn’t suit the tone of the script itself. To add to this, you have the – I don’t want to say it, but I will – pretentious music. I love the music, but again, it is hardly representative of the world he is trying to portray. Maybe this is another [unnecessary] classical edge to the film.
The cast on the other hand is second-to-none. I’ve harped on about Branagh enough, Judy Davis is brilliant – combining an element of distrust and lack-of-confidence just right to play off Joe Mantegna’s ‘Tony’, who is basically the perfect man: Italian, funny, unmarried, rich, intelligent, loving family – the lot. The tension is whether poor Robin will keep this guy, who she knows all too well, she doesn’t want to lose. Then there are the small cameos, but incredibly important, parts*. Specifically Leonardo DiCaprio in his first performance post-Titanic.
You have to wait a little for my ‘Titanic-is-a-fu*king-good-movie’ review, but nevertheless, he is flawless. While happy in a relationship, Lee attempts to sell his screenplay to successful film star Brandon Darrow (DiCaprio) while Darrow is having the time of his life at the peak of his success. He beats his girlfriend, he gets arrested, he travels to Atlantic City, he gambles, he takes drugs and he has orgies … and this is within the space of about 10 minutes and, most importantly, at no point do you feel that anything is false, he simply plays the role to a T. It is perfect. It is aspects like this that makes the film so good and, although it is unnecessary, it does look stunning and maybe, just maybe, I have got to stop assuming what should be done and accept what has been done. It looks good, it sounds good, they act well and the script is good … its just not great and, I’m sure, it could be.
*It is also interesting to mention, on a side note, that you get a little flavour of the TV stars just about to break out in the successful TV programmes of the future. Stars from The Sopranos (Paulie Walnuts and Janice Soprano), The West Wing (CJ), The Wire (Avon Barksdale) and even Hank Azaria makes an appearance (aka half the cast of The Simpsons)