6:00pm Thursday 3rd May 2012
By Jeremy Smith
A look ahead at this year’s great Oxford Film Festival, which kicks off this month.
America’s most iconic filmmaker and funnyman, Woody Allen, is being celebrated at this year’s Oxford Film Festival.
Starting on Sunday, May 13, the six-day festival will screen such classics as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Love and Death, Hannah and Her Sisters, Bananas and Play It Again Sam.
Sponsored by the the Oxford Mail and the Phoenix Picturehouse cinema in Walton Street, the festival, now in its sixth year, will highlight the writer, director and performer’s early films from the 1970s and ‘80s.
Jeremy Smith, entertainments editor for the Mail, said: “These films genuinely changed the face of comedy. Or, to put it another way, were laugh-out-loud funny from start to end. And what’s wonderful is they still are. True comedy never ages and these six films seem as joyous as when they were first screened.”
Suzy Sheriff, manager of the Phoenix cinema, agrees. She said: “These early films are wonderfully fresh, genuinely funny and very evocative. All of them are classics and for many people represent Woody’s finest.”
Since his first screenplay in 1965 for What’s New Pussycat?, Allen has been nominated 23 times for an Academy Award, including winning Best Director for Annie Hall.
THE FILMS l PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM (1972) Written by Woody Allen (based on his stage play). And unusually for Allen, directed by Herbert Ross. Starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.
Screening on Sunday, May, 13 at 8.45pm.
Story: Allan Felix, a neurotic film critic, obsessed with the film Casablanca, tries to get over his wife leaving him with the help of his best friends and his alter ego, Humphrey Bogart.
Best Quote: Allan: That’s quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn’t it?
Museum Girl: Yes, it is.
Allan: What does it say to you?
Museum Girl: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos.
Allan: What are you doing Saturday night?
l LOVE AND DEATH (1975) starring Allen and Diane Keaton Screening on Monday, May 14, at 8.45pm.
Story: In czarist Russia (think War and Peace), neurotic soldier Boris, and his distant cousin Sonja (who is to wed a herring merchant), formulate a plot to assassinate Napoleon.
Best Quote: Gen. Lecoq: Now men, because you are all getting a three-day furlough before going into battle, we would like to show you this little hygiene play.
[the actors step forward and the play begins] Woman to hygiene class: Goodbye. I hope you had a good time.
Soldier: I did. I had a good time. Oh, what’s this sore on my lip? I better see the doctor.
[He steps to his right and another actor stands up] Soldier: Doc, I have this sore on my lip.
Doctor: You have a social disease my friend.
Soldier: Oh my God!
Doctor: If you do not treat it, you will go blind... Or insane!
[Applause] Gen. Lecoq: Well men, that is the end of the play. Have a good time on your furlough and take care of yourselves.
Soldier: Well, what did you think of the play?
Boris: Oh, it was weak. I was never interested. Although the part of the doctor was played with gusto and verve and the girl had a delightful cameo role. A puckish satire of contemporary mores. A droll spoof aimed more at the heart than the head.
Soldier: As for me I’m planning to spend the next three days in a brothel. Care to come with me?
l ANNIE HALL (1977) Directed by Woody Allen from a screenplay co-written with Marshall Brickman. Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and Christopher Walken. Won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress Screening on Tuesday, May 15, at 8.45pm Story: New York stand-up comedian Alvy Singer attempts to come to terms with why his relationship to singer Annie Hall ended so disastrously.
Best Quote: Alvy Singer: Here, you look like a very happy couple, um, are you?
Female street stranger: Yeah.
Alvy Singer: Yeah? So, so, how do you account for it?
Female street stranger: Uh, I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.
Male street stranger: And I’m exactly the same way.
l BANANAS (1971) Written by Woody Allen and Mickey Rose. Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen and Louise Lasser.
Screening on Wednesday, May 16, at 8.45pm.
Story: The wonderfully named Fielding Mellish (played by Woody Allen) is a neurotic blue collar man who tries to impress social activist Nancy (Louise Lasser, who in real life had also been Allen’s wife but divorced in ‘69) by trying to get in touch with the revolution in San Marcos, a fictional South American country, or ‘banana republic’.
Best Quote: Nancy: You’re immature, Fielding.
Fielding Mellish: [whining] How am I immature?
Nancy: Well, emotionally, sexually and intellectually.
Fielding Mellish: Yeah, but what other ways?
l HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986) Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow, Carrie Fisher, Dianne Wiest. Won two Oscars for best Supporting Actor (Caine) and Best Supporting Actress (West).
Screening on Thursday, May 17, at 8.45pm Story: A trio of unhappy sisters - Hannah, Lee and Holly – attempt to sort out their lives, inevitably complicating their love lives and those of the people around the m.
Best Quote: Mickey’s (Woody Allen) Dad: How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I don’t know how the can opener works!
l MANHATTAN (1979) Directed by Woody Allen. Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman. Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Mariel Hemingway. Won a BAFTA for Best Film.
Screening on Friday, May 18, at 8.45pm Story: A divorced New York television writer (Allen) dating a high-school student (Hemingway) falls in love with the mistress (Keaton) of his best friend instead.
Best Quote: Party Guest: I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind.
Isaac Davis (Allen): You had the wrong kind? I’ve never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.
* For more details call The Phoenix Picturehouse, Walton Street, Oxford, on 01865 316570 picturehouses.co.uk/cinema /Phoenix_Picturehouse/ Half price tickets for anyone with a copy of that day’s Oxford Mail.
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