Thinking: Do you want to see another Woody Allen film? have seen most of Woody Allen’s movies starting with Take the Money and Run in 1969. I used to be crazy about him, and I  have certainly laughed my head off many times.  I have not enjoyed many of his recent movies, with some exceptions. Last year’s Blue Jasmine did not go down well with me. Here is my review from last year:

In Blue Jasmine, Woody’s take on social class loosely using the structure of  Tennessee William’s play, Streetcar Named Desire, he reveals contempt toward the working class.  The film’s main character, Jasmine, played by Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, is a socialite brought down from riches to rags by her Ponzi scheming husband. For most of the movie we watch Jasmine’s narcissistic fits of rage and near-suicidal deterioration.

I could not help but see the character of Jasmine as Woody’s projection of ex-girlfriend/wife/mother of some of his children, Mia Farrow…in particular, her rage at him. The Alec Baldwin character, husband Hal, was a stand-in for Woody. Hal took Jasmine’s socialite life away from her by losing all their money; Woody took Mia’s daughter Soon Yi to be his romantic partner.  Jasmine’s (adopted) son, Danny, confronts Jasmine about what really happened: he knows that Jasmine turned Hal in; Soon Yi, Mia’s (adopted) daughter, left her for Woody. Summary: Alec Baldwin character Hal/Jasmine’s husband=Woody Allen; Jasmine=Mia Farrow; Danny/Jasmine’s adopted son=Soon Yi.  So, from my point of view, Cate Blanchett did a great job of acting out Woody’s view of Mia Farrow’s rage at him. Woody Allen has always denied that his movies are autobiographical in any way.  You don’t have to be a psychoanalyst to know that isn’t true.

I’m sure you have followed the recent Allen/Farrow family drama in the press…from Ronan Farrow’s tweet, to Dylan Farrow‘s & Woody’s letters to the New York Times.

All of this has brought up the age-old question for me: can you separate the artist’s personal life from their work? Do the morally offensive deeds of an artist ruin their work for you? For the most part if I enjoyed the work I let it stand on it’s own. My problem is that the artist’s personal offenses start infiltrating the work and, as you can see from my analysis of Blue Jasmine, I have difficulty taking the work of art on its own terms. Here is an interesting article from the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s The Ethicist:  On Boycotting Woody Allen’s films, in which he discusses the ethical question. Decide for yourself…if you haven’t already. Let me know what you think.


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