Why I've Watched Every Single Woody Allen Movie

They tackle life's Big Questions, writes Juliet Lapidos
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2011 12:37 PM CDT
Why I've Watched Every Single Woody Allen Movie
Director Woody Allen attends a Cinema Society screening of "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger", in New York, on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010.   (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)

Juliet Lapidos has spent, by her conservative estimate, five full days of her life watching Woody Allen movies. She’s seen every single one of them: his 40 feature-length films, his shorts, the earlier movies he wrote but didn’t direct, even a TV movie and a short mockumentary that never actually aired. And though Allen “returns compulsively to the same creative ground”— recycling not just actors and themes but even, sometimes, his own dialogue—Lapidos continues to find meaning in his films, she explains on Slate. His characters face “the likelihood that we live in a godless universe,” and “Allen answers the question of what we should make of nothingness differently in different movies. Sometimes nothing means everything, sometimes nothing much.”

Allen’s characters frequently have “void moments,” during which they “feel moved to announce that life is meaningless,” and “art moments,” which “address whether or not creative work is an antidote to emptiness.” It’s one of those “art moments” that makes the 120 hours she’s spent with Allen “seem like a rational use of time,” Lapidos writes. It comes during Hannah and Her Sisters, when the character played by Allen has a crisis, but a Marx Brothers’ movie makes him realize, “’What if the worst is true? What if there's no God, and you only go around once and that's it? Well, you know, don't you want to be part of the experience?’ Art allows Mickey to rediscover pleasure.” Just one example of how, Lapidos writes, “Allen's obsessing represents a smart—and evolving—examination of the Big Questions.” (More Woody Allen stories.)

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