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Archive for the tag “Woody Allen”

10 Actors Who Have Played Literary Types

Midnight In Paris, Woody Allen‘s biggest hit in 25 years, features “cameos” by American literary expats F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein, among other authors.

It’s not the only recent film depicting the oft-wild lives of famous writers. John Cusack stars as goth author Edgar Allan Poe in 2012’s tentatively titled murder mystery The Raven – and if the candid on-set photos of the costumed Cusack splashed across the internet are any indication, anticipation for the flick is high.

Putting famous writers on the silver screen is hardly a new Hollywood trend. Check out these ten actors who’ve played literary types:

1. Nicole Kidman famously donned a prosthetic nose as the finishing touch on her Oscar-winning portrayal of British author and feminist icon Virginia Woolf in 2002’s The Hours. Spoiler: it doesn’t end well.

2. Gwyneth Paltrow starred as doomed American poet Sylvia Plath in 2003’s Sylvia, which focuses on both Plath’s stormy relationship with husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes (a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) and her increasing mental anguish. Spoiler: not a very happy ending here either.

3. It took not one but two Academy Award winners to portray massively prolific British author Iris Murdoch in 2001’s Iris, based on a memoir by Murdoch’s husband, John Bayley. Kate Winslet starred as the younger Murdoch, while Dame Judi Dench handled the author’s later years, including a heartbreaking descent into Alzheimer’s. Spoiler: You get the picture.

4. Stephen Fry portrayed irrepressible Irish wit and dandy of letters Oscar Wilde in 1997’s Wilde, which examines the personal and legal agony caused by Wilde’s gay affair with the much younger Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde served time in prison for “unnatural acts.”

5. Steven Soderbergh made the bizarre decision to follow up on his winning 1989 debut Sex, Lies and Videotape by directing a mess of a 1991 thriller featuring Jeremy Irons as Czech writer Franz Kafka. Set in the dreary Prague of 1919, Kafka finds a fictional version of the “Metamorphosis” author embroiled in a conspiracy, outrunning villainous strangers, and other decidedly, uh, Kafka-esque goings-on.

6. Fred Ward and Maria de Medeiros tried their darnedest to capture the erotically charged affair between balding American writer Henry Miller and sultry French author Anais Nin in 1990’s Henry & June. Set in Paris during the 1930s, and also starring Uma Thurman as Miller’s wife June, the film is a celebration of sex, bohemian values, and Ward’s ridiculously visible shaved hairline.

7. Jennifer Jason Leigh slurred her way through the role of frequently drunk American writer Dorothy Parker in 1994’s Mrs. Parker and The Vicious Circle. The flick depicts the juice-fueled antics of the Algonquin Table writers in 1920s New York. Also features Campbell Scott as Parker’s fellow New Yorker scribe Robert Benchley; Lili Taylor as Giant author Edna Ferber; and David Thornton as celebrated American humorist George S. Kaufman.

8. Geoffrey Rush played the kinky Marquis de Sade in 2000’s insane asylum drama Quills, co-starring Kate Winslet. A French aristocrat, the Marquis made a career of exploring the darker aspects of human sexuality, was routinely incarcerated for his work, and left behind a literary legacy that inspired generations of fetish magazine editors everywhere.

9. Anthony Hopkins portrayed British writer and Tolkien pal C.S. Lewis in 1993’s biography Shadowlands, focusing on the creator of Narnia’s transformative love affair with American poet Joy Gresham (Debra Winger).

10. Australian actress Judy Davis played cross-dressing French author George Sand in 1991’s Impromptu, chronicling the tortured love affair between lusty, domineering Sand and hopelessly wimpy composer Frederic Chopin (Hugh Grant).

What other Hollywood stars played writers onscreen?

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Diane Keaton’s charming colonial home

Apartment Therapy has some pictures from inside the home of Diane Keaton, one of my favorite Hollywood actresses. Her decor, it appears, is as eccentric as she is. I love it.

(click to enlarge):

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Very warm. Very charming. Just like Diane. Favorite Diane Keaton moment? Argh, so hard to pick, but certainly one of them is that bit in 1973’s Sleeper when she and Woody Allen are walking down the long corridor nitpicking at each other.

Woody Allen on life vs. suicide

This is Woody Allen‘s character Mickey Sachs, from the film Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), narrating:

I agree. I’d rather be a part of it.

What a brilliant sequence.

You may invite 5 people to Thanksgiving

Who are they?

Alive or dead.

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Preferably real people, not, like, Bert and Ernie (beside, Ernie would come to my house if given his druthers).

Let’s make this easy and say we are already allowed to bring our friends and family and loved ones.

I just want to know which famous people, or people in history, you would most like to share your holiday meal with you.

It’s interesting to wonder who out of the people we admire would make good dinner guests. I’ll forgo Woody Allen and Lester Bangs and Jean-Michel Basquiat because, frankly, I think they would make lousy guests. Andy Warhol? Nah.

My list:
1. Buddha

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2. Richard Pryor

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3. Yoko Ono

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4. Brian Eno

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5. John Cage

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This will all change by next week. (Well, not, I suspect, Buddha and Richard).

Who’s on your list?

The Muppets take ‘Manhattan’

Every time I watch this mash-up clip I marvel at how this footage of The Muppets Take Manhattan brilliantly synchs up with dialogue from the art museum party scene of Woody Allen‘s Manhattan. Check this out:

Now, if you’re a fan of Manhattan, you know that’s incredible, don’t you? Isn’t it brilliant to cast Kermit the Frog in the Woody Allen character? It’s just great. Kermit was much better at it than Kenneth Branagh in Celebrity.

Diane Keaton accepting her Oscar for “Annie Hall”

Two things struck me while I watched this 1978 clip of Diane Keaton accepting her Oscar for Annie Hall (1) Wow, actors were really able to express themselves, for good or bad, in the years before stylists like Rachel Zoe. I miss those days. I used to enjoy seeing the kind of clothes people liked to wear. (2) Diane’s speech makes me think she wasn’t acting at all in Annie Hall, which Woody Allen wrote for her. “Wow, this is really terrific!”

I think she’s precious.

My favorite New York styles

I’m still scratching my head over the squeaky clean and boring Us Weekly list of 25 Most Stylish New Yorkers. Where are today’s trendsetters?

Let’s remember some great Manhattan looks from years past, before the city was a wasteland of trust fund kids and fake tans. Shall we?

1960s:

The Velvet Underground with Andy Warhol:

Bob Dylan:

1970s:

New York Dolls:

Woody Allen & Diane Keaton:

Halston, Bianca & Liza:

Richard Hell:

The Ramones:

Patti Smith:

Debbie Harry:

1980s:

Pat Benatar:

Grace Jones:

Run-D.M.C.:

Jean-Michel Basquiat:

Madonna:

Cyndi Lauper:

I’m cutting my list off there because thinking of hip New York fashions from the 1990s is difficult. Things started switching to the Pacific Northwest around then and everyone grew their hair long and wore flannel. Thanks, Kurt Cobain. And Eddie Vedder. Well, actually, NYC’s Beastie Boys also kind of ruled in the 1990s and reminded everyone how cool hoodies (and matching one-piece jumpsuits) were.

In the 2000s, they Yeah Yeah Yeahs restored my faith in New York cool, but then lead singer Karen O. moved to -gasp! – Los Angeles – the most loathsome city on earth.

Is there anybody left in New York who looks edgy and cool? Tell me if there it is, it will make me happy.

The Onion’s A.V. Club interviews Woody Allen

A lot of my feminists friends question my devotion to Woody Allen, but they can kiss it. Woody’s my favorite American film maker. If you, like me, would rather spend two hours in a dark theater with a movie of Woody’s than do anything else, you might want to check out Mr. Allen’s recent interview with The Onion’s A.V. Club.


I wasn’t too shocked to learn that Woody never watches a picture once he’s done with it. I think many artists and writers (myself included) could learn from his ability to not get caught up in nostalgia:

That’s a pleasure I deny myself, because then you get into nostalgic self-involvement, and I don’t think that would be good for me. I don’t like to reminisce much, and my walls don’t have photographs of me and the actors I was with, or any of that stuff. If you were in my house in New York, you wouldn’t know I was in the movie business. It just looks like a regular house, like the home of a lawyer or something, and I try and keep that disciplined, and just work. There are so many traps you can get into, and looking back on your own work is certainly one of them.

However, Woody’s pessimistic attitude about love kind of saddened me. He didn’t have very positive things to say about love and you can read into that what you will. Of course, he’s discussing love in the context of his current film Vicky Christina Barcelona, but it sure seems like the man whose characters – and, let’s face it, who himself – always recklessly chased love has concluded that, in the end, true love is effusive.

But, maybe I’m reading too much into his answers. Tell me if I am .

Two thumbs up for Woody Allen’s latest

Saw Vicky Christina Barcelona yesterday and I enjoyed it. It was nice to see Woody making the ladies this film’s protagonists for once even if they were mulling over the same ol’ existential ennui his characters always do.

And between you and me, I never thought I’d see Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson making out, so: bonus. Another plus: Javier Bardem with a normal haircut. It wasn’t easy recovering from that No Country For Old Men ‘do.

The movie really shines when Bardem and real-life love Cruz are onscreen together. Let’s hope their relationship is less erratic than that of their characters. I laughed out loud more than once thanks to Cruz who plays an unstable woman with scary ease. I would love to see her nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Have you seen the movie? Were you happy with it?

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