Last night I watched a Woody Allen movie I hadn't seen before: Bullets Over Broadway. I loved it so much I just had to write a review.
There are certain things I like. Among these are movies by Woody Allen, or movies starring John Cusak. So when I saw that there was a Woody Allen movie starring John Cusak, I was physically compelled to watch it. Free will was entirely taken out of the picture. And I’m very pleased to say that it was worth my time. I loved it.
The basic plot is simple: Cusak is a playwright who’s trying to get one of his plays produced on Broadway. In order to do this, his manager enlists the help of the mafia: they’ll back the play on one condition. The crime boss’s girlfriend gets to act. What ensues is a wonderful example of what happens when people with different agendas are forced to work together and interact.
One of the things I like most about Allen’s movies is how free flowing they can seem. He encourages his actors to act, and to do so in long takes. In a way, at times his films can seem like filmed plays. Not many cuts between characters, and you get to see people behaving naturally. His dialogue is the same way--somehow people seem to talk the way they would talk, not the way they would talk in a movie.
Bullets Over Broadway was an even better match for me than I suspected at first. Since Cusak’s character is a writer, Allen has the opportunity to explore a lot of the things that are important to me. For example, the contrast between being “literary” and being a sell-out. There’s a hilarious part in the movie where Cusak, dismayed at what he is agreeing to in order to let his play be produced, opens the window of his apartment and screams out into the night air, “I’m a whore!”
Having attended my fair share of English creative writing classes (where many “literary” people dwell), I could just see one of my professors having this happen to him, and him responding the same way. But the fact is--in my opinion--that if you want to be successful and live off the earnings you make writing, you need to write for an audience, and you’re going to have to--sooner or later--make some concessions. Either that, or somehow manage to reinstall the patron system in literary circles.
In any case, I recommend this movie to anyone who writes. The dialogue and acting is all excellent, and the plot has just as many ups and downs as anyone could want. It was nominated for seven Oscars and won one (for best supporting actress, Diane Wiest). It’s rated R for some language (including the f-word). If that’s enough to make you not want to watch it, then at least do yourself a favor and see if you can watch it edited somewhere. It’s that good.
Four stars (out of four)
Other than that, I'm still sick. So I feel pretty awful, but such is life. At least I don't have homework now. ;-)