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Boycotting Woody Allen Films??


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"New York Times Magazine" article by "Ethicist" Chuck Klosterman answering reader question about boycotting the films of Woody Allen due to the allegations against him by some of his family:




Klosterman's answer could apply to other artists...

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I read The Ethicist every week, and what he didn't really address is the strong possibility that there might be a better case for boycotting Mia Farrow's films. Here's Woody Allen's defense, in his own words:




I'm not making this point as a lover of Woody Allen's films (I'm not a particular fan of his), but only as someone who doesn't believe in railroading an innocent person on the basis of questionable assumptions, questionable testimony, and questionable scenarios, simply because that person seems vaguely "creepy".


Anyone who says we should boycott Woody Allen's movies owes it to themselves to read and digest his summary of the charges against him, and not just hand wave them away.

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I think "The Ethicist" is being fair.


He states: "Watching a movie is not a tacit endorsement of the person who made it" and "The obligation of the audience is to watch with a fair mind: to neither deny what you know about its real-world creation nor fabricate a fictional subtext that suits what you want to believe."


He also writes: "The discomfort people feel from continuing to enjoy the work of a 'problematic' artist is more complicated, as it can be perceived as societal reinforcement of his or her behavior. There are many who find themselves wondering if they can still love 'Manhattan' or 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' if the allegations against Allen are true. It?s highly unlikely, however, that those same people would wonder if they needed to move out of a house if they discovered the carpenter who built it had been accused of the same offense."


So, I posted this because it concerns "controversial" films in general by filmmakers and actors and not just Woody Allen movies and the allegations against him (may or may not be true, I don't know)...


And it's just the opinion of "The Ethicist":



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So you've boycotted his films since "Annie Hall", yet you have a critical opinion of over 30 films you've never even seen? Sorry, but "Manhattan", "Radio Days", "Hannah and Her Sisters", "Crimes and Misdemeanors", "Husbands and Wives", "Bullets Over Broadway", "Match Point", "Midnight in Paris" and many others are among the best movies made in their respective years. It is your uninformed (and childishly alliterative) opinion that is pretentious.


Personally, I can't judge his peronal conduct as I don't have any idea whether any accusations are valid or are entirely made up.

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>So you've boycotted his films since "Annie Hall", yet you have a critical opinion of over 30 films you've never even seen? Sorry, but "Manhattan", "Radio Days", "Hannah and Her Sisters", "Crimes and Misdemeanors", "Husbands and Wives", "Bullets Over Broadway", "Match Point", "Midnight in Paris" and many others are among the best movies made in their respective years. It is your uninformed (and childishly alliterative) opinion that is pretentious.


I've actually seen most of those


Sorry, but I've never recovered from the trauma of Interiors (I still have occasional nightmares to this day). I'm not really interest in WA's inferior imitations of Wilder and Lubitsch, and I'm definitely not interest in his imitation Bergman. I don't even much care for original Bergman.


The tragedy is that WA was once one of the world's greatest comedy writers, and seemed on his way to becoming a great comic filmmaker. Instead he chose to make bland yuppie mini-dramas. At least we still have Bananas, Sleeper, Getting Even, and Without Feathers.


> It is your uninformed (and childishly alliterative) opinion that is pretentious.



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Now this is a thread that really gets my attention.


I am and have always been a passionate Woody Allen fan, ever since I saw *Love and Death* when it was first released, many years ago. I thought it was so smart, and so funny.

While he has made some undeniable clunkers - and there are a few I would even label almost "bad", insofar as this great director could make a "bad" movie - I consider his body of work to stand along with many of the greatest films ever made by an American.


I've never understood the dislike many have for his movies. And I'm not talking about the current situation, the "unsavoury" or "creepy" quality many associate with him because of Dylan's accusations, or even because he married a woman whom he'd known as a teenager, and who obviously was much younger than himself.


No, Ieaving all that aside, I'm talking about the opinions similar to Richard Kimble's, people who see his films as pretentious rubbish.


"To each his own" and all that, but seriously, if I meet someone who tells me they don't like any of Woody Allen's movies, never have and never will, I admit, it does affect my opinion of that person, and not in a good way.

Having said that, I must also say that my own father, of whom I did have a good opinion, disliked many of Allen's films.


The best of Allen's work does what most movies do not and can not: they make us laugh and think, at the same time. They are similtaneously funny and wise.

Just a couple of examples, and these are not even his most famous films:

*Broadway Danny Rose* takes a close and extremely engaging look at the philosophy of "Me First". It's a very funny movie, and it offers an original take on the idea that selfishness is not the best moral choice a person can make in life. ("Original" because, especially at the time it was made, and even today, many try to put a positive spin on the "Me First" concept.)


*Radio Days*, while not an overtly moral tale like *Danny Rose* is, gives us a hugely entertaining and touching slice of nostalgia, reminiscent of Fellini's *Amarcord*, which Allen clearly had seen and borrowed from. The final scene, atop a chic 1940s nightclub, depicts some of the film's main characters (its radio stars), musing on what the future might bring, to them and to the world, and if they will be remembered at all after they've died. Quite philosophical.


The above two Woody Allen films may or may not be liked by you folks, but they both certainly deserve to be celebrated as movies that belong with other American greats from that decade, or any decade, really.


Do I think Woody Allen molested his daughter? No. I suppose we'll never know for sure, but that is my gut feeling.

Do I think it would be unproductive and even silly to "boycott" his films? Yes.

Chuck Klosterman made a lot of valid points in his article.Thanks for including it here, RM.


Edited by: misswonderly on Mar 22, 2014 10:59 AM

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The problem I had with The Ethicist's response wasn't that his generic point about boycotting films wasn't reasonable and balanced.


The point is that by limiting his naming to Woody Allen, he wasn't acknowledging the parallel question of whether Mia Farrow's movies should be shunned, if she was simply making up those charges. After reading Mia's accusation, Allen's defense, and the conflicting thoughts on the matter by Allen's children, I think that it's much more likely that Farrow was motivated by hurt and rage at Allen's liason with their 20-year old adopted daughter, and as a result began making all kinds of unwarranted inferences about his relationship with Dylan.


Personally I don't take an actor or actress's character into account when deciding to attend his or her films. And though I believe Allen's story to be far more credible than Mia's, that doesn't mean I'd want to boycott her movies. In fact it's rather ironic that the one Woody Allen movie I still would want to see again is Husbands and Wives - - - the last one he made with Mia Farrow. Farrow's done a lot of good things in her life, and I don't think of her in general as a bad person, but I've seen too many cases of "recovered memories" and vengeful spouses (mostly men, I might add) not to take her accusations against Allen with a mountain of salt.

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In terms of Allen's films alone, Husbands and Wives is easily my favorite, and Annie Hall still holds up pretty well (thanks to Diane Keaton), as does Broadway Danny Rose and to an extent Radio Days and Manhattan Murder Mystery.


But sometime around Manhattan, I began to get the feeling about his comedies that once you've seen one, you've seen them all. I don't know about "pretentious", but there's a sameness to too many of his films for me ever to consider his overall repertory for anything beyond the mythical "Hall of Very Good". That may be unfair, since I haven't seen most of his more recent films, but at this point those movies are near the back of a very long line of movies to get to.

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I too, admit to being a huge Allen fan back in the '70's. Over the years however, I grew tired of his tsking, sighing insecure screen persona and narrowed my interest to how he presents the peripheral characters, and the movies he directed but didn't act in. I haven't seen ALL of these films, mind you, but enough to realize they rarely disappoint. What I applaude in relation to his later films is that even in the ones HE appears in, he generously made others in those films stand out. For example, even though THE MIGHTY APHRODITE was a Woody Allen film "starring" Woody Allen, Mira Sorvino was the TRUE star of that movie. In HANNA AND HER SISTERS, everyone else in the cast stood out more than Allen did, or it seemed to me.


At first blush, and even after all this time, it seemed to me that Farrow's rants against Woody were the result of sour grapes, and understandably so. "Hell hath no fury..." and all. But if someone wishes to boycott Allen's movies because of mere allegations, it IS their right to do so. Appaerently, Allen is not suffering because of it, except maybe in his personal feelings of those allegations. Financially, and most importantly, artisically, he's not suffering any harm.



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Well my POV has always been that the character of an artist has no impact on if I would enjoy that artist's work. The only type of boycott I would even consider would be not attending a live show since that is a much more personal experience with an artist.


As I also stated with regards to how Natalie Wood died, most of the time the only sound position is to have NO position (even a so called gut feeling).


But most people just have to take a position.

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My problem with Woody Allen films has always been the "Woody Allen" character, whether played by him or someone else. Especially when he is after the hot young babe, whether it is Mariel Hemingway, Mira Sorvino or Scarlett.Johansen. If he is throwing over a wife in the process, it brings a cerfain air of reality, which can make the viewing unconfortable. But I would never boycott any of his movies.


Btw.....last night at the movies, I saw a preview for an upcoming Allen film (didnt catch the name). He is an analyst that finds that some of his lesbian patients seem to want to be in threeways with a man (this is what i surmised); he ends up pimping John Turturro to the likes of Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara.

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Well we all boycott works we don't care for! Making that decision isn't very difficult.


The harder question is would you boycott works from an artist you really like because of the character, politics, etc.. of said artist.


Ok, not Allen or Farrow; but what about anyone else?

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Arturo, you and a couple of others here have stated that your main problem with Woody Allen movies is the Woody Allen persona, the bumbling neurotic **** nebbish who never seems to know how to say or do the right things, especially on first dates, and who's forever on the psychiatrist's couch, seeking guidance which never seems to do him any good.

Fair enough. This is largely the reason my dad disliked him, and certainly many of his movies, at least up to *Manhattan* , did feature that character-always written and played by Allen.


But from around the mid-80s on, Woody Allen largely abandoned the lovable yet annoying awkward nerd image. In fact, in many of his post *Annie Hall* films he plays someone who's confidant and attractive to women.


As for the criticism that all his movies are the same (which in fact I believe someone else made), first, it's not really true. Yes, many of them have similar themes, such as upper-middle-class New York intellectuals angsting over their love lives and careers. Up to a point it's a valid criticism.

But he has made too many films that are different from the above to be dismissed as a one-note director. Without going into detail, just to name a few:

*Crimes and Misdemeanors* (another exploration of morality, a favourite theme with him)

*Broadway Danny Rose* ( I discussed this one earlier on this thread)

*Radio Days* (see above)

*The Purple Rose of Cairo*


*Alice* (not really successful, but at least a different kind of story, and the elements of "magic" he introduces here are intriguing)

*Everyone Says I Love You* : this one's actually a musical ! of sorts. An affectionate tribute to some of Allen's beloved Tin Pan Alley tunes, and a sweet and funny film into the bargain


I could name some more, but I think the above list is enough to establish that he doesn't always just make movies about self-absorbed rich intellectuals.


I still don't get the Woody Allen hate thing.


Hello, TCM posters, is there anyone out there who actually likes him? (Besides me and obrienmundy.)


Edited by: misswonderly on Mar 22, 2014 4:39 PM

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*but I've seen too many cases of "recovered memories" and vengeful spouses (mostly men, I might add)*


Nice save.


Well, I added it because while false "recovered memories"* seem to be mostly in the realm of women, "vengeful spouses" (or vengeful lovers) are every bit as likely to be men. And just because I'm skeptical about what Farrow says about Allen doesn't mean I think that all such incidents are invented.


*Not that all of them are phony.

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As for the criticism that all his movies are the same (which in fact I believe someone else made), first, it's not really true.


By that I meant Allen's earlier comedies up through Love and Death. I haven't seen enough of his post- Manhattan films to make any gross generalization.

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I'm a fan of many Woody Allen films. I love many of the same things he does like playing jazz music and the music of Django Reinhardt.


As far as that joke related to his name made by another poster: I assume the poster was making a reference to the fact that the term woody has a sexual undertone and the fact Mr. Allen is caught up in a sexually related controversy.

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