The Bayley Film Club: Woody Allen

How time flies, seems like yesterday we had decided to form this Film Club to ease our way through the lockdowns, and here we are – at round 16th. Slowly closing the year of 2020 which was, you all must admit – a really bumpy ride! So fasten your seatbelts, and enjoy the next name from our shuffle – Woody Allen.

Film 1: Manhattan Murder Mystery
Film 2: Magic in the Moonlight

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Author: Agsy E Drapinska
Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 3
Score: 11

Most Woody Allen’s films are about relationships and people. Many times put in unusual circumstances that play upon their unique characteristics – this way, Mr Allen exposes both flaws and qualities. “Manhattan Murder Mystery” is definitely one of them. But also, it’s a hell of a laugh! 

Larry and Carol (Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) on a way to their apartment, meet their neighbours, and old married couple Paul and Lilian House. The chatty and outgoing pair invites them for a hot beverage. The next day, the news strikes as Larry and Carol discover that Lilian is dead. 

The horrifying news, sets Carol on a investigating rampage when she refuses to believe in natural causes of Mrs House’s death. Carol’s intense suspicion seems silly at first, as is shared only with her friend – Ted (Alan Alda) – who also has a crush on her. However, as more facts come into light, the more difficult it becomes to ignore the murder-theory. Before you notice, you find yourself all-in in the conspiracy. Holding your breath watching the extremely neurotic Larry, getting out of his way to get close to his wife again, in this thrilling and surprising comedy. 

Magic in the Moonlight

Author: Agsy E Drapinska
Anticipation: 5
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect: 4
Score: 14

Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” takes on a longing dispute between the rational & proven and the spiritual & believed. A successful illusionist, Stanley (Colin Firth) is approached by his friend and colleague and asked to unmask a phoney medium, after Howard himself failed to expose her. The medium, Sophie (Emma Stone), takes advantage of the weak minded wealthy american aristocrats, playing tricks on their sentiments around lost loved ones, while her mother, Mrs Baker (Marcia Gay Harden), tirelessly works on creating a financially-sustained life for both of them. 

Stanley and Howard, being in the business of selling magic as entertainment are the most rational and logic-driven people you could possibly find. Yet, as we go along, we watch how they fail to uncover Sophie’s tricks; their doubts emerge and confidence melts. In the meantime, son of the family, Brice (Hamish Linklater) hopelessly falls in love with the girl, following her around with an ukulele and singing serenades. All of this in a magical surroundings of beautiful and romantic views of Côte d’Azur, and suited in the glamour of the 1920’.

Typically for Allen, we have a nice variety of complex relationships. Among them, a love story, which faces the greatest obstacle of all – the rational mind. Once again Woody Allen advocates for the true love, one that cannot be faked, one that cannot be explained, one that does not need reason. “Magic in the Moonlight” is the ultimate magic trick. It’s pretty to look at, very entertaining, but beware! Because – 

The closer you look the less you see.
– J. Daniel Atlas (“Now You See Me”)

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Author: NA Tonge
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 3
Score: 9

A Manhattan Murder Mystery is mystery thriller/comedy focused on the a middle-class couple, Larry (Woody Allen) and Carol Lipton (Diane Keeton), who suspect their ageing and seemingly harmless neighbour, Mr House, to have offed his wife. 

The driving force behind the conspiracy comes from Carol, who with her writer friend Ted, begin to spy on Mr House. At the same time, the more rational Larry fights off the advances from a seductive new author he wishes to publish, whilst taking tips from her on how to improve his poker game. 

I felt that the film began to become a little to pleased with itself and started to drag around two-thirds of the way in; however when a dead body falls through a lift escape hatch, in the middle of Larry having a panic attack, Woody Allen’s character becomes more involved with the mystery of how Mr House has seemingly gotten away with murder. With this, the tempo of the film is upped, resulting in a hilarious finale! 

I enjoyed the at time childlike husband and wife relationship between the curious Carol and the neurotic Larry, which for me edged it closer to a comedy than a mystery. All in all, A Manhattan Murder Mystery is well written and flows nicely whilst not taking itself too seriously.  

Magic in the Moonlight

Author: NA Tonge
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 2
Score: 7

Magic in the Moonlight” sees Colin Firth play a grumpy famous illusionist and Emma Stone as Clairvoyant. Following their disagreement on matters of the supernatural, they fall in love. 

The picturesque 1920’s Cote D’azur provides and idillic backdrop for a will-they, won’t they story line, however whilst the film was pleasing on a superficial level, it had little to offer beyond that. 

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