This appeared today in Bombay Times.....
Why Woody Works….
Okay…. ‘You Will Meet a Tall,Dark Stranger’….. is a tantalizing title, a prophecy and a promise. I mean… who doesn’t want to meet a tall, dark stranger, regardless of age? The premise is strong but this is not Woody Allen’s most inspired movie. But since I happen to be a die hard fan of the auteur, I can safely state that even at his worst, Woody is still streets ahead of almost anybody else in the movie business. Which is precisely why he has a world wide cult following and is worshipped in France as a genius. His latest film may be flawed, but even his flaws are superior to those of other film makers.The problem with this film of his is that audiences expected a light, frothy, feel good comedy ( given the title), but what they got instead was a slice of life ( with loads of exaggeration ). It’s actually a pretty sad and sardonic movie about growing old.About disappointment and disliiusionment.About our futile search for love. Woody’s forte has always been to unmask and expose society’s many foibles. He has made a career out of tapping into our myriad insecurities and hang ups. Earlier, the themes revolved around male neuroses – performance anxiety,the impossible longing to bed countless beautiful women, infidelity and betrayal. This one too deals with all that and more, but in a more thoughtful way. Woody’s penetrating insights are all there in the superbly calibrated performances, led by Anthony Hopkins ( can this man ever be less than brilliant, film after film?) playing Alfie, and Gemma Jones playing his divorced , dotty wife Helena.The only person who disappointed big time in an otherwise top class ensemble cast (Antonio Banderas at his yummiest), was our Freida Pinto. To be fair, hers was also the worst written role… and she looked far from alluring as Dia – the desi Lady in Red. Naomi Watts as Sally, was outstanding, especially in the blow out scene with her depressive tippler mother ( Helena) who refuses to loan her more money to start an art gallery.Watts’ savage desperation comes through as she calls her mother an ‘imbecile’ for listening to a charlatan called Crystal. Paradoxically enough, nearly all of Crystal’s calculating ‘prophecies’ eventually come true, including the one about Helena meeting a ‘stranger’ and starting life all over again. Everybody in the movie meets a stranger who alters the course of their individual lives…inevitably with disastrous consequences. But it is Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of a Viagra-popping old man who gets conned into marrying an avaricious hooker , that underlines the pathos faced by ageing roués across the world – men who delude themselves into believing they can still ‘do it’. Charmaine,the trashy, brassy blond ( Lucy Punch) who plays the ambitious hooker, puts in a great performance as she hoodwinks Hopkins into parting with vast sums of money to buy her baubles and fur coats even as she is two timing him with a hunky gym instructor. Like they say, there’s no fool like an old fool! Woody Allen should know!!
Whatever the Cathedral & John Cannon School undertakes, it succeeds in pulling it off with enormous panache and style. As is evident in the hefty and very handsome tome titled ‘Undefiled Heritage’ that was recently launched when the school celebrated 150 glorious years. Superbly designed by Gita Simoes, and ably put together by Mridula Maluste and Viral Doshi, this richly illustrated history of the school is a collector’s item. It goes to show what is possible…. achievable… when the right talents combine.
I am winding down.... I swear I am. On sunday I managed to stay away from my lap top for at least four hours ( a feat!). I took a much needed snooze in the afternoon. My maalishwali ditched me, but I didn't weep. I ate a heart dinner of turkey and baked alloos without feeling guilty! I even pretended to watch and enjoy football with my husband, who seemed beyond himself as he whooped and roared at the goals ( there were some, right?). Soon I'll be off with the family on a X'Mas break. We are taking the Secret Santa route to gifting - safer, cheaper!
You guys have a good one!