6. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
We now take a really sharp turn back to explore one of Allens earlier flicks, a box-office success and a typical experimental film that is, as the Sleeper was, commenting on the contemporary culture and counter-culture mores and values. Filled with the newer scientific explorations on the topic of sexuality, the film takes a more lampoon approach to serious themes that were recently getting public debate in the American society.
Allen shows how one can have a more lighthearted approach to very serious issues, and at times going into drastic presentations of some biological and moral themes that stem from sexuality. The title and the iconic scenery and imagery in the film have stuck with it for decades. Allens portrayals have also been the subject of many references from the film, it’s like his name became synonymous with films dealing on the subject of sexuality and morality.
7. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy
Allen often writes in the spirit of the renaissance platonic of love and relationships. The title of the film echoing the very famous Shakespearean comedy of “A midsummer Night’s dream” clearly takes us into the “free” romance that was displayed in some of the late medieval romance literature.
The plot and setting follow a similar theme. The story takes place in an escapist setting, a country estate, and the romantic and sexual tension are even more emphasized in a more isolated and secluded atmosphere.
The setting invites the heroes to try out their fantasizes and desires, while maintaining the parody aspect of lampooning similar situations that come from more serious stories. Made in the period when Allen was transitioning from his “hey day” in the 70s, it’s a sweet Allen tale that has him trying out his intellectualism and comedic skills all in one. It features some of the best known tropes that he circulates in all of his films.
8. Shadows and Fog
With this and the previous film we are covering the acting muse that Allen had during his relationship with her – Mia Farrow. The film – drawing heavily from the German expressionist it has an interesting blend of being both Allen-esque and it’s more earlier esqueism of being Kafka-esque.
With these last two films that we explored, we find Allen doing pastiche from previous great literary or film genres, this film in particular is a very good illustration of Allen knowledge as a filmmaker, not so much his original and unique style, but the power of his homage and commentary on already established film tropes. Allen does give his unique view and touch in them, his persona is a standalone in such cases, but for the most part we are left with Allens reimagining of older great pieces of film, literature, philosophy and art.
With him and through his film, we get a deeper and wider understanding of how film came from these older arts, Allen is a good historian and theoretician that allows us to see with his eyes, that are well-read and well-versed, into the world of film with a grandiose vision, one that is reminiscent of a master, who in a postmodern fashion is bringing great art to a more contemporary audience.
9. Manhattan Murder Mystery
The chronicler of Manhattan, as Allan is mostly known for gets inspiration from Old Hollywood as much as he does from classical film and literature. The symbol that New York has become for filmmakers is totally personified into Allen, he gives a perfect look into the everydayness, into the local, the trivial, the personal, the emotional, that paint Manhattan as really the center of happenings in the modern American, and probably the first signs of it being the center of the modern world, the New Amsterdam, the New Constantinople, the New Rome, a real look into the forefront of the world, the Big Apple allows for thousands of scenarios and thousands of stories to interconnect, Allen knows this, the Big City is a megalopolis of destinies and characters that make for a fine moviemaking adventure.
This film again has that combining factor of a few genres that Allen is commenting on, while remaining grounded in the human interactions, that bring up the emotions and relations between the characters. The film centers on a married couple’s investigation of the death of their neighbor’s wife.
A perfect set up that can provide Allen with many things to play with. Allens and Keatons acting with the beautiful interior and exterior of the Manhattan apartment building vibe brings out a murder mystery that is totally engulfed in the reactions of our two heroes solving this in their own unique way.
10. Mighty Aphrodite
It was said that the 90s were an interesting time for Allen, many of the films on the list are from that decade. What makes that decade so special, well it brings Allen from his great days, into a more repetitive style, however his brilliant way of delivering movie magic remained intact whenever he worked.
The film is one that is reminiscent of the oldest period we have encountered in the list, it’s an echo of the Ancient Greek goddess Aphordite, and the myth surrounding her beauty, but instead of beauty in this case it’s her intelligence, or lack there of. What brings Manhattan and Ancient Greece together you might ask? Well Woody Allen and his always present self-destructive antagonism, that works both as a display that he is his own enemy, and that he is the one that sets and combines all these things into motion.
It’s a tale of the search of the sportswriter Lenny for his genius adopted son’s biological mother, ultimately finding that she is not all that he imagined her to be. It’s one of the stronger portrayals of the clash that Allen has with women, painting out the driving force that he has in all of his movies, between the tormented everyday intellectual personified into Allen and his interactions with the female world, that is often in the form of a sexual relationship. Clearly stating once again that Woody Allen imagines himself to be the most untypical playboy in films history.