I know Woody Allen has been around forever, I've never really cared for him. After watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I realized I am now a big fan. Here are my reasons why I have changed my mind...
1. His 90's films sucked -I saw Everyone Says I Love You, Deconstructing Harry and Celebrity. They were boring, pretentious and aimless. However, I saw these films as a teenager- maybe I was just too young to understand the brilliance behind it? The only film I saw from his earlier work was Manhattan which I thought was decent, not spectacular. However, now I am questioning my own opinions - I've added all of his earlier work to my Netflix queue and am considering re-watching his 90's work.
2. Cassandra's Dream - Out of his 5 latest films (the other 4 being Vicky Christina Barcelona, Scoop, Match Point & Melinda and Melinda) I enjoyed this film the most. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell play brothers who take desperate measures in order to gain financial success. While one brother becomes wrought with guilt, the other questions his own morality - How far will he go to protect himself and the life he has dreamed about? It was a brilliant film- the writing was sharp, the acting was fresh and the story was done plenty of times before yet it felt new.
3. He directs bad actors to good performances - From what I have read, Allen is known for not over-directing his actors - letting them have freedom to interpret their own characters. This could go horribly wrong, however it seems to work for him. Scarlett Johansson is supremely awful in every movie I have seen her in (don't get me started on Lost in Translation - one of those love-it or hate-it films that I absolutely loathed), with the exception of her 3 collaborations with Allen. Somehow Allen turns her painfully dull expressions and annoyingly monotone voice into an emotionally inspiring character with a super sexy voice. Also look at Will Ferrell's performance in Melinda and Melinda - completely different than the actor we see in Blades of Glory.
4. He has a clear aesthetic - You can watch any of his films and know that they are "Woody Allen films" even when they have completely different subject matter. I guess it helps that he writes his own films. In his latest films he deals with love, murder, ambiguity, morality, guilt, monogamy, destiny and so much more. Yet his voice is clear that there is no answer to any of it. The dialogue is heavy, the plots are twisted and the characters are flawed. I can't wait for his next film Whatever Works.