Tag Archives: woody allen

“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 4)

“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 4)

Woody Allen interview 1971 PART 4/4

Uploaded by on Jul 21, 2008

Woody Allen interview from 1971, just after the worldwide release of ‘Bananas’

________________________

David Mishkin

David Mishkin

God and Carpeting: The Theology of Woody Allen by David Mishkin

March 1, 1993

This is an archived article. It originally appeared on March 1, 1993. Some information may be outdated.
A red-haired boy sits next to his mother in the psychiatrist’s office. She is describing her son’s problems and expressing her disappointment in him. Why is he always depressed? Why can’t he be like other boys his age? The doctor turns to the boy and asks why he is depressed. In a hopeless daze the boy replies, “The universe is expanding, and if the universe is everything…and if it’s expanding…someday it will break apart and that’s the end of everything…what’s the point?”His mother leans over, slaps the kid and scolds: “What is that your business!”

This scene from Annie Hall typifies Woody Allen’s quest for understanding! Allen touches on various topics and themes in all his cinematic works, but three subjects continually resurface: the existence of God, the fear of death and the nature of morality. These are all Jewish questions or at least theological issues. Woody Allen is a seeker who wants answers to the Ultimate Questions. His movie characters differ, yet they are all, in some way, asking these questions he wants answered. They are all “Woody Allens” wrestling with the same issues. He explains:

Maybe it’s because I’m depressed so often that I’m drawn to writers like Kafka, Dostoevski and to a filmmaker like Bergman. I think I have all the symptoms and problems that their characters are occupied with: an obsession with death, an obsession with God or the lack of God, the question of why we are here. Almost all of my work is autobiographical—exaggerated but true.1

But Woody Allen does not allow himself to dwell too long on these universal problems. The mother’s response to her red-haired son’s angst is typical of the comedic lid the filmmaker presses over his depressing outlook to close the issue. True, Woody Allen has made his mark by asking big questions. But it is the absence of satisfactory answers to those questions that causes much of the angst—and humor—we see on the screen. Off screen we see little difference.

Allen’s (authorized) biography, published in 1991, sheds some light on his life and times. Woody Allen, whose given name was Allan Konigsberg, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Allen describes his Jewish family and neighborhood as being from “the heart of the old world, their values are God and carpeting.”2 While he did not embrace the religion of his youth, his Jewishness is ever present in his characters, plots and dialogue. Jewish thought is intrinsic to his life and work.

One can see this in the 1977 film Annie Hall, where Allen’s character, Alvy, is put in contrast to his Midwestern, gentile girlfriend. In one scene he is visiting Annie’s parents. Her grandmother stares at him, picturing him as a stereotypical Chasidic Jew with side locks, black hat and a long coat. The screen splits as Alvy imagines his family on the right and hers on the left. Her parents ask what his parents will be doing for “the holidays”:

“We fast, to atone for our sins,” his mother explains.

Annie’s mother is confused. “What sins? I don’t understand.”

Alvy’s father responds with a shrug: “To tell you the truth, neither do we.”

Nothing worth knowing can be understood by the mind.3

Allen suggests that the greatest thinkers in history died knowing no more than he does now. He often uses humor to poke fun at pretentious intellectuals who spout textbook answers. In another Annie Hall scene Alvy is standing in line at a movie theater. The man behind him is trying to impress his date. Alvy is annoyed, and when the man begins commenting on pop philosopher Marshall McLuhan, Alvy turns and informs him that he knows nothing about McLuhan. To prove his point, he escorts McLuhan himself into the scene. The philosopher deftly puts the object of Alvy/Allen’s scorn (a Columbia University professor of TV, media and film) in his place. Alvy steps out of character and, as Woody Allen, he looks into the camera and sighs: “Boy, if life were only like this.…”

Allen’s films do not merely expose and poke fun at pseudo-intellectuals; they point out that no school of human thought can provide ultimate solutions. Allen’s lack of faith in the world’s systems generates some great one-liners:

He tells how he was caught cheating on a college metaphysics exam: “I was looking into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”4

He also pokes fun at existentialism, commenting on a course he took in the subject: “I didn’t know any of the answers so I left it all blank. I got a hundred.”5

His first wife studied philosophy in college: “She used to prove that I didn’t exist.”6

Psychology also figures into Allen’s scripts—many of his characters are seeing a therapist.

In Sleeper, Allen’s character wakes up 200 years in the future, where he quickly discovers that the future holds the same old problems as ever. Lamenting the wasted years, he remarks:

“My analyst was a strict Freudian. If I had been going all this time I’d probably almost be cured by now.”7

In another film he describes the unproductive nature of his own therapy:

“My analyst got so frustrated he put in a salad bar.”8

So much for faith in therapy! And when it comes to science, Allen asks and answers the questions, “Can a human soul be glimpsed through a microscope? Maybe—but you’d definitely need one of those very good ones with two eyepieces.”9

The political process as a means of change is also shrugged off:

“Have you ever taken a serious political stand on anything?” he is asked.”Sure,” he responds, “for twenty-four hours once I refused to eat grapes.”10

And, finally, it is the questions of the human soul—its mortality and morality—that seem really to preoccupy the filmmaker.

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.11

In his early writings fear of death provided a great platform for a punch line:

“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”12“It is impossible to experience one’s own death objectively and still carry a tune.”13

“Death is one of the few things that can be done as easily lying down.”14

“What is it about death that bothers me so much? Probably the hours.”15

Allen’s concern for his own mortality is ever present in his writings as well as his filmmaking. In one short story he dreams he is Socrates in ancient Greece, about to be executed for crimes against the state. His friend tries to calm his fear.

Friend: “What about all that talk about death being the same as sleep?”Woody: “Yes, but the difference is that when you’re dead and somebody yells, ‘Everybody up, it’s morning,’ it’s very hard to find your slippers.”16

The absurdity of Allen’s humor helps to cushion the seriousness of the subject. Could it be that his comments are so clever and funny that the laughter drowns out the genuine note of anxiety over those issues? In his later films Allen began dealing with death more realistically:

In Hannah and Her Sisters his character Mickey Sacks is tested for a serious medical problem. He agonizes over the possible results only to learn they are negative. Mickey is elated—he leaves the office literally jumping for joy. Yet the next scene shows him depressed again. He realizes that the encouraging test results are but a postponement of death which is still inevitable. In despair, he attempts suicide. Failing that, he goes to a movie theater. The Marx Brothers’ film Duck Soup, an old favorite of his, is playing. The film provides a temporary escape; it even cheers him. His immediate answer to depression is that one should enjoy life while one can. However, that answer apparently did not satisfy Woody Allen, the writer, as Hannah and Her Sistersis one of the few films in which Allen provides a happy ending. Later films raise the same concerns—and usually conclude on a less optimistic note.To you I’m an atheist, to God I’m the loyal opposition.17

Allen’s fear of death is inextricably linked to his uncertainty about the existence of God. He ponders in an early essay:

“Did matter begin with an explosion or by the word of God? And if by the latter, could He not have begun it just two weeks earlier to take advantage of some of the warmer weather?”18

Again, glibness is his antidote to grappling with the hard questions. The eternal is brought down to the level of the earthly, and therefore minimized.

Yet, Allen never fully embraces the position of atheist. Once, when asked if he believed in God, he replied with a typical Allenesque formula:

“I’m what you’d call a teleological, existential atheist—I believe that there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.”19

He ponders spiritual matters, but a punch line always yanks the focus to the sublime, then to the ridiculous. Other examples include:

“I keep wondering if there is an afterlife, and if there is, will they be able to break a twenty?”20“There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from Midtown and how late is it open?”21

Woody Allen is, in the words of his biographer, “a reluctant [he hopes there is a God] but pessimistic [he doubts there is] agnostic who wishes he had been born with religious faith [not to be confused with sectarian belief] and who believes that even if God is absent, it is important to lead an honest and responsible life.”22

Never kill a man, especially if it means taking his life.23

The existence of God is an issue which would not only answer the questions of death and an afterlife, but also the problem of how we ought to live now. Two of Allen’s films which best deal with this issue were made 14 years apart: the 1975 cinematic spoof on the Napoleonic wars and Russian novels, Love and Death, and the 1989 critically acclaimed piece, Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Love and Death was the last of his all-out, zany comedies and the beginning of his on-screen grappling with issues of God and morality. In it Allen plays the part of Boris who denies the existence of God but would truly like to have real faith.

“If I could only see a miracle,” Boris argues, “a burning bush, the seas part.…Uncle Sasha pick up a check.” Or, “If only God would give me some sign. If He would just speak to me once, anything, one sentence, two words. If He would just cough.”

Boris is often debating with his wife Sonia on these important issues of life:

Boris: What if there is no God?…What if we’re just a bunch of absurd people who are running around with no rhyme or reason?Sonia: But if there is no God, then life has no meaning. Why go on living? Why not just commit suicide?

Boris: Well, let’s not get hysterical! I could be wrong. I’d hate to blow my brains out and then read in the papers they found something!

Later in the film Boris attempts to assassinate Napoleon. Standing over the French emperor, he prepares to shoot. But his conscience (not to mention his cowardice) prevents him from pulling the trigger. His previous philosophical ramblings come to a halt when the rubber meets the road. Boris concludes that murder is morally wrong. There are universal standards and there is even a reason to act morally.

The film ends with Boris being executed for a crime he did not commit. Could it be that Woody Allen was punishing his own character for believing, even momentarily, that there are indeed moral standards and even accountability?

After all, the logical conclusion in following such a path would be to acknowledge the existence of God. Keeping his own role of skeptic intact, Allen gives the plot a twist. In the jail cell his character is visited by “an angel of God” who promises Boris that he will be released. Since the angel’s word proves to be false, Boris again has a reason to be cynical. But in his final scene he speaks optimistically (after all, this is a comedy),

“Death is not really an end; think of it as an effective way to cut down on your expenses.”

As always, Allen’s one-liners are successful in reducing or obscuring the seriousness of the subject matter.

In Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen tackles the issue of morality on a much more serious level. Wealthy ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal has been having an extramarital affair for two years. When he attempts to end his illicit relationship, his mistress threatens to tell his wife. When backed into an impossible corner and offered an easy way out, Judah finds himself thinking the unthinkable.

Judah’s moral confusion is presented against a backdrop of the religion of his youth. Though he has long since rejected the Jewish religion, he is continually confronted with memories that activate his conscience. He remembers the words of his childhood rabbi:

“The eyes of God are on us always.”

Judah later speaks with another rabbi, a contemporary of his. The rabbi remarks on their contrasting worldviews:

“You see it [the world] as harsh and empty of values and pitiless. And I couldn’t go on living if I didn’t feel with all my heart a moral structure with real meaning and forgiveness and some kind of higher power and a reason to live. Otherwise there is no basis to know how to live.”

These words are ultimately pushed aside, as Judah succumbs to the simple solution of hiring a hit-man to murder his demanding lady in waiting. After the crime, Judah experiences gut-wrenching guilt. Judah Rosenthal finds the case for morality so strong that after the murder he blurts out:

“Without God, life is a cesspool!”

His conscience pushes him to great despair as, again, he examines the situation from a past vantage point. He envisions a Passover seder from his childhood. The conversation becomes a family debate over the importance of the celebration. Some of the relatives don’t believe in God and consider the ritual a foolish waste of time. The head of the extended family stoutly defends his faith, saying, “If necessary, I will always choose God over truth.”

Perhaps this is why Judah rejected his religion—he could not see faith as anything other than some sort of noble delusion for those who refuse to accept life’s ugly truths. As Judah continues to dwell on his crime, he has another vision in which his rabbi friend challenges him with the question: “You don’t think God sees?”

“God is a luxury I can’t afford,” Judah replies. There is a final ring to the statement as Judah decides to put the entire incident behind him.

Judah almost turns himself in; however, the price is too high and so he chooses denial, the most common escape. “In reality,” he says in the last scene, “we rationalize, we deny or else we couldn’t go on living.”

Another character, Professor Levy, speaks on morality in one of the film’s subplots. Levy is an aging philosopher much admired by the character played by Woody Allen, a filmmaker. The filmmaker is planning a documentary based on Levy’s life, and we first see the professor on videotape, discussing the paradox of the ancient Israelites:

“They created a God who cares but who also demands that you behave morally. This God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, who is beloved to him.…After 5,000 years we have not succeeded to create a really and entirely loving image of God.”

Levy eventually commits suicide. Despite his great learning, his final note discloses nothing more than the obvious: “I’ve gone out the window.”

Professor Levy’s suicide leaves Allen’s character stunned. Still, his humor ameliorates the situation as the filmmaker protests,

“When I grew up in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide; everyone was too unhappy.”

The final comment on Levy’s suicide is a surprising departure from Allen’s security blanket of humor:

“No matter how elaborate a philosophical system you work out, in the end it’s gotta be incomplete.”

Remember, all of the dialogue is written by Woody Allen. Though his own character supplies comic relief to this dark film, his conclusions are just as bleak. Everyone is guilty of something whether it’s considered a crime or a misdemeanor.

Yet, Allen’s theological questions rarely address the nature of that guilt. The word “sin” is reserved for the grossest offenses—the ones that make the evening news—or would, if they were discovered. Judah Rosenthal’s crime is easily recognizable as sin, while various other infidelities and compromises are mere misdemeanors.

Sin against God is not something Allen appears to take seriously in any of his films. When evangelist Billy Graham was a guest on one of Allen’s 1960s television specials, the comedian was asked (not by Graham) to name his greatest sin. He responded:

“I once had impure thoughts about Art Linkletter.”24

However, when he distances himself from the personal nature of sin and looks to crimes or sins against humanity, Allen speaks with a passion.

In Hannah and Her Sisters the viewer is introduced to the character of Frederick, an angry, isolated artist who is disgusted with the conditions of the world. Of Auschwitz, Frederick remarks to his girlfriend:

“The real question is: ‘Given what people are, why doesn’t it happen more often?’ Of course, it does, in subtler forms.…”

In Allen’s theology, all have fallen short to a greater or lesser degree, but ironically, his view of human imperfection never appears in the same discussion as his thoughts about God.

He does admit to being disconnected with the universe:

“I am two with nature.”25

But he doesn’t mention a connection with a personal God because he doesn’t see a correlation between human failures and the question of connectedness to God.

While Allen is a unique thinker, he seems to be pedestrian when it comes to wrestling with problems of immorality and even inhumanity. While he calls the existence of God into question, he does not deal with our responsibility in acknowledging God if he does exist.

It is simple to analyze sin on a human level. The more people get hurt, the bigger the sin. But the biblical perspective is quite different: Any and all sin causes separation from God. One cannot view such a cosmic separation as large or small based on degrees of sin. Ironically, one of Allen’s short stories underscores the foolishness of comparison degrees of sin:

“Astronomers talk of an inhabited planet named Quelm, so distant from earth that a man traveling at the speed of light would take six million years to get there, although they are planning a new express route that will cut two hours off the trip.”26

The biblical perspective of separation from God is similar. Having “better morals” than the drug pusher, the rapist or the ax murderer makes a big difference—in our society. We should all strive to be the best people we can be, if only to improve the overall quality of life. But in terms of a relationship with God, doing the best one can is like being two hours closer to Quelm. God is so removed from any unrighteousness that the difference between “a little unrighteous” and a lot is irrelevant.

The question his films and essays never ask is: Could being alienated from God be the root cause of our alienation from one another…and even our alienation from our own selves?

“It’s hard to get your heart and your head to agree in life. In my case they’re not even friendly.”27

Woody Allen has a unique way of expressing the uneasy terms on which many people find their heads and their hearts. Perhaps that is why he has received 14 Academy Award nominations. Allen will shoot a scene as many as twenty times, hoping to capture the actors and scenery perfectly. His biographer says “he doesn’t like to go to the next thing until what he’s working on is perfect—a process that guarantees self-defeat.”28

Is filmmaking Woody Allen’s escape from the world at large? His biographer notes, “He assigns himself mental tasks throughout the day with the intent that not a moment will pass without his mind being occupied and therefore insulated from the dilemma of eschatology.”29

It is a continual process—writing takes his mind off of the ultimate questions, yet the characters he creates are always obsessed with those very same questions. Allen determines their fate, occasionally handing out a happy ending. And he seems painfully aware that he will have little to say about the ending of his own script.

There is much to be appreciated and enjoyed in Woody Allen’s humor, but it also seems as if he uses jokes to avoid taking the possibility of God’s existence very seriously. Maybe Woody Allen is afraid to find that God doesn’t exist, or on the other hand maybe he’s afraid to find that he does. In either case, he seems to need to add a comic edge to questions about God to prove that he is not wholehearted in his hope for answers.

Will Woody Allen tackle the problem of his own halfhearted search for God in a serious way in some future film or essay? Maybe, but if the Bible can be believed, it’s an issue that God has already dealt with. The prophet Jeremiah quotes the Creator as saying: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

Endnotes

  1. Eric Lax, Woody Allen, (New York: Knopf Publishing, 1991), p. 179.
  2. Ibid., p. 166.
  3. Manhattan, 1979.
  4. Lax, p. 141.
  5. Stardust Memories, 1980.
  6. Lax, p. 150.
  7. Sleeper, 1973.
  8. Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986.
  9. Woody Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Side Effects, (New York: Random House Publ., 1980), p. 82.
  10. Sleeper.
  11. Lax, p. 183.
  12. Woody Allen, “Death (A Play),” Without Feathers, (New York: Random House Publ., 1975), p. 106.
  13. Woody Allen, “My Philosophy,” Getting Even, (New York: Warner Books, 1971), p. 25.
  14. Allen, “Early Essays,” Without Feathers, p. 108.
  15. Allen, “Selections From the Allen Notebook,” Without Feathers, p. 10.
  16. Allen, “My Apology,” Side Effects, p. 54.
  17. Stardust Memories.
  18. Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Side Effects, p. 82.
  19. Sleeper.
  20. Allen, “Selections From the Allen Notebook,” Without Feathers,p. 8.
  21. Allen, “Examining Psychic Phenomena,” Without Feathers, p. 11.
  22. Lax, p. 41.
  23. Love and Death, 1975.
  24. Lax, p. 132.
  25. Ibid., p. 39.
  26. Allen, “Fabulous Tales and Mythical Beasts,” Without Feathers, p. 194.
  27. Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989.
  28. Lax, p. 322.
  29. Ibid., p. 183.

 

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“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 1)

“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 1)

Woody Allen interview 1971 PART 1/4

Uploaded by on Jul 21, 2008

Woody Allen interview from 1971, just after the worldwide release of ‘Bananas’

__________________________

Looking at the (sometimes skewed) morality of Woody Allen’s best films.

In the late ’60s, Woody Allen left the world of stand-up comedy behind for the movies. Since then, he’s become one of American cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers. Sure, he’s had his stinkers and his private life hasn’t been without controversy. But he’s also crafted some of Hollywood’s most thought-provoking comedies. Philosophical, self-deprecating and always more than a tad pessimistic, Allen adds another title to his oeuvre this Friday with Midnight in Paris. Whether it will be remembered as one of his greatest or another flop is too early to say, but its release gives us a chance to look back at some of his most indispensable works.

Love and Death (1975)

Allen’s Love and Death owes a lot to Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the films of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. Death himself even makes an appearance, recalling the existential dread of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. But despite the movie’s many highbrow allusions, Allen is more concerned with simply having a good time. Gags and one-liners abound, making it, if not a comic masterpiece, a pretty good way to spend an hour and a half.

Annie Hall (1977)

Like Love and Death, this Oscar winner paired Allen and Diane Keaton as a couple. But unlike Love and Death, it’s less concerned with throw-away gags. Instead, Allen uses humor to explore the complicated nature of relationships and the difficulties of love and communication. And of course, there’s also his trademark pessimism. The film begins with a joke about two women on vacation in the Catskills. One says to the other, “Boy, the food in this place is terrible,” and the other replies, “Yeah I know, and such small portions.” Allen’s character, Alvy Singer, goes on to say, “That’s essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness—and it’s all over much too quickly.” In the end, Alvy’s salvation lies in art, for only there can he give life the happy ending it can’t have otherwise.

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“Woody Wednesday” The heart wants what it wants”jh67

I read this on www.crosswalk.com which is one of my favorite websites.

Life Lessons from Woody Allen

I confess I am a huge film buff. But I’ve never really been a Woody Allen fan, even though most film critics consider him to be one of the most gifted and influential filmmakers of our time. Of course, some of my film savvy friends who are aficionados of Allen’s work have been recommending some of his more interesting films. Although often very dark, many of him movies have some interesting worldview themes.

Woody Allen’s personal life has certainly been checkered with controversy. Last week Chuck Colson discussed Allen’s life and work and recent interview in the Washington Post:

“The heart wants what it wants.”

You may remember those words. They’re the excuse Woody Allen offered in 1992 for leaving his longtime lover to run off with her daughter. Even many of Allen’s fans were repulsed by the affair and by Allen’s cavalier attitude…

So Allen’s heart got what it wanted. According to the unwritten laws of our culture–and according to the philosophy he expressed in that infamous sentence–he ought to be happy.

Only he’s not, according to a new interview in the Washington Post. Interviewer David Segal quips that Allen’s worldview “is so bereft of meaning, so godless and absurd, that the only proper response is to curl up on a sofa and howl for your mommy.”

Not the kind of talk you would expect from one of the most successful men in film. By any secular standard Allen should be on top of the world. Apparently this is not the case. According to Colson:

As Allen confesses, movies were only a “means” for him to live the kind of lifestyle he wanted, but now that he has it, he has to keep making movies to distract himself from it. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes, who “withheld not [his] heart from any joy,” Woody Allen apparently has concluded that “all is vanity…”

Read the entire commentary on BreakPoint:  When the Heart Gets What it Wants

Read the Washington Post interview with Woody Allen: Cloud in the Silver Lining

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Coldplay – 42 Live Coldplay perform on the french television channel W9. In 1992 Woody Allen took up with one of his adopted kids and lived in with her. He was given over to the pursuit of pleasure. Actually he has made that a major focus of his life. In the latter part of his […]

“Woody Wednesday” Allen realizes if God doesn’t exist then all is meaningless (jh 15)

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5) The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy. _________________________- I want to make two points today. 1. There is no […]

“Woody Wednesday” How Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors makes the point that hell is necessary (jh 14)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1 Adrian Rogers – Crossing God’s Deadline Part 2 Jason Tolbert provided this recent video from Mike Huckabee: John Brummett in his article “Huckabee speaks for bad guy below,” Arkansas News Bureau, May 5, 2011 had to say: Are we supposed to understand and accept that Mike Huckabee is […]

Agnostic Allen notes, “The people who successfully delude themselves seem happier than the people who can’t” (Woody Wednesday Part 5)

Woody Allen interviews Billy Graham on Religion This article below makes we think of the lady tied to the Railroad in the Schaeffer video. Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism (Modern man sees no hope for the future and has deluded himself by appealing to nonreason to stay sane. Look at the example […]

A review of Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Wednesday Part 4)

Midnight in Paris Not Dove Family Approved Theatrical Release: 6/10/2011 Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter Source: Theater Writer: Woody Allen Producer: Letty Aronson Director: Woody Allen Genre: Comedy Runtime: 100 min. MPAA Rating: PG-13 Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Kathy Bates Synopsis: Midnight in Paris is a romantic comedy that follows a family travelling […]

Woody Allen films and the issue of guilt (Woody Wednesday Part 3)

Woody Allen and the Abandonment of Guilt Dr. Marc T. Newman : AgapePress Print In considering filmmaking as a pure visual art form, Woody Allen would have to be considered a master of the medium. From his humble beginnings as a comedy writer and filmmaker, he has emerged as a major influential force in Hollywood. […]

According to Woody Allen Life is meaningless (Woody Wednesday Part 2)

Woody Allen, the film writer, director, and actor, has consistently populated his scripts with characters who exchange dialogue concerning meaning and purpose. In Hannah and Her Sisters a character named Mickey says, “Do you realize what a thread were all hanging by? Can you understand how meaningless everything is? Everything. I gotta get some answers.”{7} […]

“Woody Wednesday” Part 1 starts today, Complete listing of all posts on the historical people mentioned in “Midnight in Paris”

I have gone to see Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris” three times and taken lots of notes during the films. I have attempted since June 12th when I first started posting to give a historical rundown on every person mentioned in the film. Below are the results of my study. I welcome any […]

Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren of Kansas: Their story of deliverance from drugs jh16c

The recent events in Little Rock concerning KARK TV’s top weatherman Brett Cummins and his experience of drinking alcohol and snorting coke has left a lot of people asking questions. Since the evening ended in the tragic death of one of Brett’s friends, Dexter Williams, many questions have centered on the use of illegal drugs. Some has wondered why KARK in their press release failed to even mention Cummins’ drug use.

I am hoping that those that I know who are involved in drugs will think long and hard also about the recent addition to the “27 Club” of Amy Whinehouse.

Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren went on a journey in their life together. They both were founding members of the rock group Kansas. Dave Hope actually got heavily involved in the drug scene as his rock band made it to the top. His story of deliverance through Christ is in the two video clips later in this post. First I want to take a look at the story of Kerry Livgren. Step by step in this 8 minute video clip he tells about his journey and how he found the answer he was searching for by putting his faith alone in Christ. I want to challenge those who have chosen to escape through drugs to watch this video and I wound love to have your feedback.

Kerry Livgren testimony

Uploaded by on Nov 1, 2009

Kerry Livgren( music group Kansas) testimony and promotion of film The Imposter starring Kevin Max(DC Talk) and Jeff Deyo.

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At this point I am posting a portion of a previous post I did earlier this year. It deals with the search for satisfaction that Woody Allen, Coldplay, Kansas and King Solomon all went on. It includes the video clips of Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren of Kansas.

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Here is an article I wrote a couple of years ago:

Solomon, Woody Allen, Coldplay and Kansas

What does King Solomon, the movie director Woody Allen and the modern rock bands Coldplay and Kansas have in common? All four took on the issues surrounding death, the meaning of life and a possible afterlife, although they all came up with their own conclusions on these weighty matters.

Let me start off by pointing out what they all had in common. First, they were very successful and rose to the top of their fields. Second, they were very famous and of course, thirdly they were wealthy and experienced the privileges that fame and wealth brought. Finally, they were still seeking answers to life’s great questions even though it seemed they had experienced all the world had to offer.

Unlike many the past grammy winners of “Best Rock Album,” Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay is filled with songs that deal with spiritual themes such as death, the meaning of life and searching for an afterlife.

Leadsinger Chris Martin notes, “…because we’ve had some people close to us we’ve lost, but some miracles — we’ve got kids. So, life has been very extreme recently, and so both death and life pop up quite often” (MTV News interview, June 9, 2008).

Russ Briermeier of Christianity Today observes that this album is “often provocative, spiritual, and seemingly on the verge of identifying a greater truth, asking and inspiring many questions without providing the answers.” It reminded me of King Solomon’s search for answers in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Solomon also dealt the subject of death a lot. Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 asserts, “It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time. Sorrow is better than laughter, it may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding.”

The subject of death is prominent in the songs “Poppyfields,” “Violet Hill,” “Death and All His Friends,” “42,” and the “Cemeteries of London.” Then the song “The Escapist” states, “And in the end, We lie awake and we dream, we’re makin our escape.” In the end we all die. Therefore, I assume this song is searching for an afterlife to escape to. The song “Glass of Water” sheds some more light on where we possibly escape to: “Oh he said you could see a future inside a glass of water, with riddles and the rhymes, He asked ‘Will I see heaven in mine?’

Coldplay is clearly searching for spiritual answers but it seems they have not found them quite yet. The song “42“: “Time is so short and I’m sure, There must be something more.” Then the song “Lost“: “Every river that I tried to cross, Every door I ever tried was locked, I’m just waiting til the shine wears off, You might be a big fish in a little pond, Doesn’t mean you’ve won, Because along may come a bigger one and you will be lost.”
Solomon went to the extreme in his searching in the Book of Ecclesiastes for this “something more” that Coldplay is talking about, but he did not find any satisfaction in pleasure (2:1), education (2:3), work (2:4), wealth (2:8) or fame (2:9). All of his accomplishments would not be remembered (1:11) and who is to say that they had not already been done before by others (1:10)? This reminds me of the big fish in the little pond that Coldplay was talking about. Even if you think you are on top, are you really? Also Solomon’s upcoming death depressed him because both people and animals alike “go to the same place — they came from dust and they return to dust” (3:20).

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me thatKerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, like Solomon and Coldplay, they realized death comes to everyone and “there must be something more.”

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

The movie maker Woody Allen has embraced the nihilistic message of the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. David Segal in his article, “Things are Looking Up for the Director Woody Allen. No?” (Washington Post, July 26, 2006), wrote, “Allen is evangelically passionate about a few subjects. None more so than the chilling emptiness of life…The 70-year-old writer and director has been musing about life, sex, work, death and his generally futile search for hope…the world according to Woody is so bereft of meaning, so godless and absurd, that the only proper response is to curl up on a sofa and howl for your mommy.”

The song “Dust in the Wind” recommends, “Don’t hang on.” Allen himself says, “It’s just an awful thing and in that context you’ve got to find an answer to the question: ‘Why go on?’ ”  It is ironic that Chris Martin the leader of Coldplay regards Woody Allen as his favorite director.

Lets sum up the final conclusions of these gentlemen:  Coldplay is still searching for that “something more.” Woody Allen has concluded the search is futile. Livgren and Hope of Kansas have become Christians and are involved in fulltime ministry. Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Ecclesiastes 1

Published on Sep 4, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 2, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

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Ecclesiastes 2-3

Published on Sep 19, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 16, 2012 | Derek Neider

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All my posts on Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 40)

I have 40 posts concerning the movie “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen. Below are the links to all of the posts.

“Midnight in Paris” one of Woody Allen’s biggest movie hits in recent years July 18, 2011 – 6:00 am

 
 

(Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)July 10, 2011 – 5:53 am

 

 (Part 29, Pablo Picasso) July 7, 2011 – 4:33 am

(Part 28,Van Gogh) July 6, 2011 – 4:03 am

(Part 27, Man Ray) July 5, 2011 – 4:49 am

(Part 26,James Joyce) July 4, 2011 – 5:55 am

(Part 25, T.S.Elliot) July 3, 2011 – 4:46 am

(Part 24, Djuna Barnes) July 2, 2011 – 7:28 am

(Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso) July 1, 2011 – 12:28 am

(Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore) June 30, 2011 – 12:58 am

(Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution) June 29, 2011 – 5:34 am

(Part 16, Josephine Baker) June 24, 2011 – 5:18 am

(Part 15, Luis Bunuel) June 23, 2011 – 5:37 am

(Part 1 William Faulkner) June 13, 2011 – 3:19 pm

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FILM NOTE – Midnight in Paris, written and directed by Woody Allen, starring Owen Wilson

… It was the best of times …

Midnight in Paris is as much a pleasure to watch as Woody Allen’s best films even though it’s not as good — the fantasy is so powerful.  This time travel film takes us, and its main character, Gil (Owen Wilson), a successful screen writer, back to the Paris of the 1920’s where we meet the artists and literati who made the city the brilliant center that we all go to Paris looking for — even those too young or unworldly to realize it. 

Gil is ensconced in a fancy hotel with his beautiful fiancee, Inez — of course that’s part of the fantasy, too, that and the French food.  She and her rich, conventional right wing parents are dutifully intent on seeing the sights — Versailles and all that — guided by a know-it-all smart guy and his adoring girlfriend, but Gil — vaguely discontent, and yearning to be a serious novelist, has another agenda.  He withdraws from family fun to search out his own Paris — the Paris of his imagination — and wonder of wonders at the stroke of midnight, finds it.

Swept off mysteriously in a chauffeured car, he’s delivered to the intellectual and artistic soirees of 1920’s Paris, where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald rub shoulders with Hemingway and Picasso while Cole Porter plays the piano [partial list of famous people], and eventually everybody who is anybody ends up at Gertrude Stein’s for intellectual discussions, artistic critiques, gossip and lovemaking.

Oh how marvelous to encounter Hemingway (Corey Stoll), young, darkly handsome, intense, having just published his first novel speaking in the dead-pan of his writing style about courage under fire  (“I’ve read all you work,” Gil tells him though at this point Hemingway’s only published one book).  How delicious to see Zelda dive too deep into the absinthe with the Princeton-elegant Scott guiding her to the next party.  And joy of joys, how wonderful that our very American Gil with Wilson’s farm-boy drawl, patent simplicity and naïve aura (though he is a successful screenwriter, Woody Allen has his cake and eats it to on that one) not only meets but draws to himself Picasso’s mistress, played by Marion Cotillard looking like the dancer Olga Khokhlova whom Picasso loved at the time.  (So much for prissy, materialistic Inez, in any time zone.)

And. here’s something really valuable, Gil gets a focused critique on the pages of his novel by none other than Gertrude Stein – it’s going to serve him in good stead back in his own time.  To see Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein sitting under Picasso’s famous, groundbreaking portrait of Gertrude and looking exactly like her is a high point of the movie and feels, for the moment, a high point of life (they really don’t have the same facial structure but Bates and Woody’s camera pull it off). 

Gil’s travel back to the 20’s in the chauffeured car is smooth but some of the other time travels lurch and are less believable, and are accompanied by preaching about the value of being of one’s own time that sounds like forced virtue.

And Allen seems so in love with the idea of this movie that he hurries through characters, settling on caricatures for his artists and writers from the past rather than on real people, let alone the creators they were, engaged in hot struggles to develop their modes of expression.  For all the fun it is to engage with Hemingway, his clipped, cliché-ridden courage talk is so obvious it’s camp, and while Adrien Brody does a great look-alike caricature bit of Salvador Dali, it’s a bit, not a person.  So if you have another way of being in Paris at its beautiful best (appealing photography) and chatting with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Matisse and Picasso, by all means do it. 

If not, see this movie.  It’s a treat:  once again we have to thank Woody Allen for giving us great pleasure, the most fun, and a fantasy fulfilled. 

Yvonne Korshak

Comments very welcome.  Scroll down, click on “comments,” write in comment box and click on “post.”  Emails are private, no emails ever appear with comments.

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