The legendary Woody Allen is all set to helm his 50th film. At 86, his passion and energy seem incredible. With his recent movies set in different cities – Match Point in London, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris, To Rome With Love and A Rainy Day in New York – the American director’s life has been a series of ups and downs. While his work was generally considered masterly, his personal equations were often questioned.
He was accused of sexually abusing his seven-year-old daughter, Dylan. He has vehemently opposed this, but mud of this sort sticks. We have seen that even in the case of Roman Polanski. He is still being hounded for his sexual misdemeanour that happened decades ago. The victim has forgiven the auteur, but the courts have not. He still cannot enter his country of birth, US.
Coming back to Allen, he spoke about his 50th work in the pipeline on an Instagram chat the other day with actor Alec Baldwin (who was involved in an accidental shootout on the set of Rust last year that killed the cinematographer).
During the conversation, Allen said he was clearly unhappy with the increasing popularity of streaming platforms: “A lot of the thrill has gone – it [streaming] doesn’t have the whole cinema effect. When I started, I’d do a film and it would go to a movie house, people would come by their hundreds to watch it. Now, you do a film and you get a couple of weeks in a movie house and it goes right to streaming.”
As we all know, every invention or development has its detractors. When television came, a lot of people feared that this would ring the death knell for cinema. (This has been effectively conveyed in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.)
Nothing like this happened. But OTT may be a different game. With the Coronavirus pandemic having paved the way for people to enjoy movies from the comfort of their homes, theatres have been having a hard time.
Also, the innumerable streaming sites have given a golden opportunity for actors who had been relegated to the background and forgotten. And, so many very different kinds of stories are now being aired, stories that would not have found ready takers working for the big screen.
Baldwin and Allen did not got into this aspect, but branched into the details of the new film. It will be shot in Paris this Autumn, and may be somewhat like Match Point, whose plot while being engaging was morally questionable. It speaks about a man, a tennis coach, who worms his way into a rich household, marrying the daughter. But he carries on a extramarital affair, and when this woman becomes inconvenient, he murders her. And does not get caught; walks away free!
Allen added that his 50th outing would perhaps be his last, and the interview coincided with his new book of short stories, Zero Gravity. A play on this is being planned on Broadway. Maybe, a movie too will emerge.
But let me leave with a question: will Woody ever hang up his boots?