Are Woody Allen’s films flawless? No, but then they aren’t supposed to be. This is why his films are so divisive. Allen is famous for his one film a year approach to filmmaking. If you’re looking to find out what is in Allen’s mind or sphere at the moment, look no further than his newest film. But don’t look too hard or too long because he will be off somewhere else. Why there are no flaws in Woody Allen’s films is that they are subjective. You won’t find him making a historical drama about the plight of 16th century Mayan Indians in South America. Research is something he’s probably never done nor had the patience to do.
The review of Woody Allen’s newest film for Vanity Fair captures the essence of how critics are failing Allen more than Allen is failing the critics. In it, the reviewer, Richard Lawson complains, “At 80 years old, Allen is well positioned to look back at the entanglements of youth with a knowing sigh. But much of Café Society is tainted by a cynical, transactional view of (straight) sex and romance, Allen perhaps setting his film in the shimmery past to protect himself from the glare of social consciousness.” Allen, like his idol Ingmar Bergman did, has always explored the human condition without the safety net of genre or plot devices, something say a good dramatist like Steven Spielberg has never done. On top of that, throughout his career, Allen has, at least, co-written every film he has every directed. Spielberg, not so much.
Woody Allen is a rare breed in the annals of film. He is an auteur in the truest sense of the word. His cinema is insular and observational, never complicated or cluttered. My point is summed up by this quote by Mark Estrin, via TheyShootPictures, “Allen’s genuinely original voice in the cinema recalls writer-directors like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Preston Sturges, who dissect their portions of the American landscape primarily through comedy.”