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Monday, February 20, 2017


Happy Presidents' Day, President Donald Trump.

We're less than a week away (Sunday, February 26) from the Academy Awards, so I thought I'd lead up to that evening with two recent films:  Annie Hall and John Wick Chapter 2.  Wick will not be nominated for the Oscar next year, but Annie Hall was the last comedy production to win Best Picture, forty years ago in 1977.  La La Land is a musical, but the last movie of this ilk to be the best was Chicago in 2002.

Woody Allen, of course wrote, directed and starred, with Diane Keaton.  Also in the cast were Paul Simon, Carol Kane, Colleen Dewhurst, Christopher Walken, Marshall McLuhan, Dick Caveat, Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Goldblum, mostly only a few seconds, as many were not yet known.

Both got sterling reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

                              Reviewers  Audience

Annie Hall                    99            93
John Wick 2                 90            91

Without a doubt, of the 50 or so films and theatrical productions Allan Stewart Konigsberg made over the past half a century, the absolute best was Annie Hall, which won four Oscars in 1978, including Best Actress for Diane Keaton.  She originally was cast in his Broadway show, Play It Again, Sam, in 1969, when their personal relationship began.  She also starred in the 1972 movie.  This film, combined with Casablanca, might well be my favorite twin-bill.  Although they never got married, and their romantic liaison was brief, they have remained sort of friends.  At 5'8", she is two inches taller than Woody.

This movie was written by Allen about Keaton, for she was born Diane Hall.  Keaton was her mother's maiden name, and around the time she auditioned for Woody she sang in nightclubs and spent nine months in the Broadway show Hair, but refused to go nude.  This is the Annie Hall look to the left.

He has had three wives, including his present, Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Andre Previn, said to have been abandoned in the slums of Seoul.  The Woody / Soon-Yi affair when she was around 20 destroyed the partnership with Mia after a 12-year relationship, involving 13 films.  Mia's parents were director John Farrow and actress Maureen O'Sullivan, and she was also married to Frank Sinatra.  Woody and Mia never married.  Woody and Soon-Yi will have been married 20 years in December.

Does Woody have a Lolita complex?  Well, in Annie Hall he did place in the dialogue his best friend Rob, played by Tony Roberts (who keeps reappearing in Woody's films), having a dalliance with two 16-year olds, at the same time.  Then, of course, the bitter trial with Mia Farrow about Soon-Yi, for which he was found innocent, and a more damaging accusation regarding a younger Dylan, also which legally could not be sustained.  There was also that 1979 film Manhattan (RT:  98/92) with Mariel Hemingway.

About John Wick Chapter 2, it was a good movie about bad people, even Keanu Reeves, as Mr. Wick.  I did not see the original, so did not quite understand the international assassins guild, from which Wick wanted to retire, but couldn't.

John fired 302 shots with 80% accuracy, killing 128.  In the original, only 77 died.  One comparative note is that Annie Hall dissed no one, while John Wick disposed of more than 200, all violently, as his first eleven in Chapter 2 went by way of his hands or Ford, plus two more later by pencil.  The Glock was his favorite weapon.

There will, of course, be a Chapter 3, for John Wick now has become a cult franchise.  Here are thoughts about what to expect:
  • Reeves will be Wick and Chad Stahelski will again direct.
  • We'll learn more about the meaning behind those gold coins.
  • He'll probably get a commendable female adversary, or love, or both, at the same time.
  • There appeared Laurence Fishburne from his Matrix connection, so perhaps Carrie-Anne Moss will be recycled as this counterpoint.
  • Wick's '69 Ford Mustang Mach 1 will make a revival.
One more item of extreme relevance.  Your SyFy channel will show the original John Wick tomorrow night.  Hawaii at 8PM, and, after doing some research, found out that New York has JW at 10PM.  Rotten Tomatoes rated this film at 85/80.


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