America’s most iconic film-maker, and funnyman, Woody Allen is being celebrated in this year’s Oxford Film Festival.
Starting on Sunday May 13, the six-day festival screens Annie Hall, Manhattan, Love and Death, Hannah and Her Sisters, Bananas and Play It Again Sam.
Sponsored by The Oxford Times’ sister paper, the Oxford Mail and the Phoenix Picturehouse, the festival will highlight the writer, director and performer’s early films from the 1970s and ‘80s.
Jeremy Smith, entertainments editor for The Oxford Times, said: “These films genuinely changed the face of comedy. Or, to put it another way, were laugh-out-loud funny from start to end. What’s wonderful is they still are. True comedy never ages and these six films seem as joyous as when they were first screened.”
Suzy Sheriff, manager of the Phoenix cinema agreed. She said: “These early films are wonderfully fresh, genuinely funny and very evocative. All of them are classics and for many people represent Woody’s finest.”
Since his first screenplay in 1965 for What’s New Pussycat?, Allen has been nominated 23 times for an Academy Award, including winning best director for Annie Hall.
Call the Phoenix Picturehouse in Walton Street, Jericho, on 01865 316570 or visit www.picturehouses.co.uk/ cinema/Phoenix_Picturehouse/ Half-price tickets for anyone who brings a copy of that day’s Oxford Mail.
Play It Again, Sam (1972), Pictured right. Written by Woody Allen (based on his stage play). And unusually for Allen, directed by Herbert Ross. Starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Screening: Sunday, May 13, 8.45pm. Story: Allan Felix, a film critic obsessed with the film Casablanca, tries to get over his wife leaving him with the help of friends and alter ego, Humphrey Bogart. Best Quote: Allan: That’s quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn’t it? Museum Girl: Yes, it is. Allan: What does it say to you? Museum Girl: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos. Allan: What are you doing Saturday night?
Love and Death (1975)
Story: In czarist Russia (think War and Peace), neurotic soldier Boris, and his distant cousin Sonja (who is to wed a herring merchant), formulate a plot to assassinate Napoleon. Screening: Monday, May 14, 8.45pm. Best Quote: Boris: If it turns out that there IS a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever.
Annie Hall (1977)
Directed by Woody Allen from a screenplay co-written with Marshall Brickman. Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and Christopher Walken. Won four Oscars for best picture, best director, best original screenplay and best actress Screening: Tuesday, May 15, 8.45pm Story: New York stand-up comedian Alvy Singer attempts to come to terms with why his relationship to singer Annie Hall ended so disastrously. Best Quote: Alvy Singer: Here, you look like a very happy couple, um, are you? Female street stranger: Yeah. Alvy Singer: Yeah? So, so, how do you account for it? Female street stranger: Uh, I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say. Male street stranger: And I’m exactly the same way.
Written by Woody Allen and Mickey Rose. Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen and Louise Lasser. Screening: Wednesday, May 16 8.45pm. Story: The wonderfully named Fielding Mellish (played by Woody Allen) is a neurotic blue-collar man who tries to impress social activist Nancy (Louise Lasser, who in real life had also been Allen’s wife but divorced in ’69) by trying to get in touch with the revolution in San Marcos, a fictional South American country, or ‘banana republic’. Best Quote: Nancy: You’re immature, Fielding. Fielding: [whining] How am I immature? Nancy: Well, emotionally, sexually, and intellectually. Fielding: Yeah, but what other ways?
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow, Carrie Fisher, Dianne Wiest. Won two Oscars for best supporting actor (Caine) and best supporting actress (West). Screening: Thursday, May 17, 8.45pm Story: A trio of unhappy sisters — Hannah, Lee and Holly — attempt to sort out their lives, inevitably complicating their love lives and those of the people around them. Best Quote: Mickey’s (Woody Allen) Dad: How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I don’t know how the can opener works!
Directed by Woody Allen. Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman. Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Mariel Hemingway. Won a BAFTA for Best Film. Screening: Friday, May 18, at 8.45pm Story: A divorced New York television writer (Allen) dating a high-school student (Hemingway) falls in love with the mistress of his best friend instead. Best Quote: Party Guest: I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind. Isaac Davis (Allen): You had the wrong kind? I’ve never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.