Sparrow's Reviews > Side Effects

Side Effects by Woody Allen
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Jul 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed, short-story-collections, good-beach-reads
Read from July 04 to 14, 2012

Woody Allen has that way of writing awkward attractions and selfish motivations that is forgiving and neat. He ties up the loose ends, but then at the same time, there is always an absurdity to the tying up. The characters will probably never be content, but somehow I, as their audience, am left content through the catharsis of watching Allen’s characters self-destruct. Despite the dissonance in the character relationships, what was secret is now in the open, the bad guy is murdered or permanently tortured with guilt, the underdog had his day, the boy found a girl. It is a good combination of satisfying and dissatisfying.

This book is great. The Abraham Lincoln play cracked me up; the hospital romance was sad and smart; and the story with Madame Bovary came right while Kelly and I were having our epic battle, so that was perfect. Woody Allen is cool.

[obligatory part where I say how much I completely adore Mia Farrow until the end of time.]

I’m listing below my ranking of favorite to least favorite Woody Allen films. I only rank based on personal preference, not based on a weird guess at objective quality because I am a bad guesser. Also, admittedly, it’s been about six years since I’ve seen some of them, so it gets a little vague and messy in the middle.

1. Another Woman
2. Purple Rose of Cairo
3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
4. Stardust Memories
5. Sweet and Lowdown
6. Broadway Danny Rose
7. Manhattan
8. Sleeper
9. Crimes and Misdemeanors
10. Husbands and Wives
11. Alice
12. Interiors
13. September
14. Bananas
15. Small Time Crooks
16. Bullets Over Broadway
17. Radio Days
18. Shadows and Fog
19. Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy
20. Annie Hall
21. Play It Again, Sam
22. New York Stories
23. Take the Money and Run
24. Love and Death
25. Zelig
26. Cassandra’s Dream
27. Match Point
28. Manhattan Murder Mystery
29. Hollywood Ending
30. Midnight in Paris
31. Scoop
32. What’s Up, Tiger Lily?
33. Hannah and Her Sisters
34. Curse of the Jade Scorpion
35. Mighty Aphrodite
36. Whatever Works
37. Anything Else
38. Melinda and Melinda
39. Celebrity
40. Deconstructing Harry

That’s how the films go for me, I think. It is a very unfair list because I basically love most of them. I think you hit the “Yeah, that was pretty good” place around Hollywood Ending, but psychosomatic blindness? Yes, please.

When I was in high school, my best friend’s family watched Woody Allen movies all the time, and I couldn’t stand him. He seemed so smug, saying, “Look, I write a couple of jokes and everyone forgives me screwing people over.” Gross.

Then, suddenly, I hit maybe age twenty-four, and I watched Purple Rose of Cairo and got hooked. I watched everything I could get my hands on. He was no longer smug voice of screwing people over, but somehow, instead, this voice of compassion – a voice saying, “Look at how shallow we all are, but that doesn’t mean we are unimportant.” And I still value that. He combines the daily, mundane dissatisfactions of life with the epic curiosities of time travel and murrrrder and true love. What a wonderful storyteller. Purple Rose of Cairo is a good place to start.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 402) (402 new)


message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason It makes me sad that you didn't immediately try to explain to Igor why you said Jeremy was your boyfriend. I feel like there could have been a lot of hurt feelings avoided so easily...


message 2: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! But then she couldn't have had such a satisfying resolution many years later!! That's the stuff movies are made of.


message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason So you're riding this train, too, Eh?


Sparrow Jason wrote: "It makes me sad that you didn't immediately try to explain to Igor why you said Jeremy was your boyfriend. I feel like there could have been a lot of hurt feelings avoided so easily..."

Yeah, I probably should have, but there wasn't really a time or place when I could have. He kind of avoided me for a long time after that. I did see him on a Marshrutka, the taxi vans they have there, one time, and I almost told him then, but it would have been really weird. I think sometimes misunderstandings just have to sit for a while.


message 5: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Don't derail the journey, man. Lotsa good scenery out there.


message 6: by Jason (new)

Jason I guess that's true. And I'm not one to talk, either, Meredith. I know for a fact that a girl I went to college with who always meant a lot to me stopped talking to me because she thought I did something that I did not do. But I never broached the subject with her and just allowed the relationship to disintegrate. I haven't spoken to her in many, many years. I was hurt in the beginning and wondered, "how do I even begin to tell this person that I think she thinks I did something that I did not do?" But I guess over time, I've come to accept it for what it is.


Sparrow Yeah, I think it is sometimes difficult to tell whether it is more awkward to try to name the misunderstanding right away or to let the other person continue with bad information until they're ready to bring it up. I've been less successful when I've tried to clear things up right away. They totally suck, though.


message 8: by B0nnie (new)

B0nnie There could be a personality test in this. Pick your favourite Woody Allen movie and everything about you is revealed like a zodiac sign. "Love and Death" is my mine - it always cracks me up...yeah I'm doomed.


Sparrow I agree! It is a Woody Allen personality map. Love and Death is a really good one. It got pushed down on my list through no fault of its own.


Sparrow Yeah, always better. But a person has to give you a chance and want to know, you know? Otherwise, it's just chasing them down to tell them something they don't want to hear, and it seems like that often makes things worse. I don't know. I am not very good with misunderstandings because I hate them.


Sparrow Yeah. But it worked out with Igor. If I'm not going to talk to someone very often, I like to think of them having a correct idea of me. It is frustrating to think of how many people in the world have wrong ideas about me.


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason Sparrow wrote: "If I'm not going to talk to someone very often, I like to think of them having a correct idea of me."

This is exactly it. It bothers me a lot that there are people who think badly of me but I know that if they had the correct information, they wouldn't. But to remedy that you first have to get them to acknowledge what they think of you, which is hard to do and I feel like, the awkwardness of that aside, the damage is somehow already been done. In my case we are way past every being friends again, so I've had to learn to just let it go. But it is hard because I miss the way things were.


Sparrow Agreed about both situations. It is both nice and sometimes awful that people have different perspectives on the world.


message 14: by mark (last edited Jul 17, 2012 01:42AM) (new)

mark monday i love lists like this one! i also love a lot of woody allen. although two of my favorites are your two least-favorites. tops for me would be Radio Days first, then Hannah, Crimes, Purple, Deconstructing.

i should watch Another Woman again. but i remember getting the same feeling from it as Interiors & September, which i thought were terrible but also fascinating like a car wreck. in general, Woody doing Bergman makes me feel a little snide. although i appreciate the effort.


Sparrow haha! I love lists, too! Yeah, I think most people love Deconstructing and Hannah. I totally hated Deconstructing, and I've never cared for Hannah - that was one I didn't come around on from my early days of hating Woody Allen. I tried more with that one, though, because Mia Farrow. They seem kind of boring and self-indulgent to me. Like, "No, really folks, it actually is so much work to be kind of an asshole."

I love Another Woman. I think I've always listed Cairo first, but I was realizing that I actually watch Another Woman more often and feel like watching it even more often still. I can see how Woody Allen doing Bergman would make you feel snide. I kind of love it - like watching early Bergman before he really wanted to kill me with depression. Bergman-lite.


message 16: by j (last edited Jul 17, 2012 01:07PM) (new)

j i really liked another woman, but purple rose is probably my favorite. i don't really like his "earlier, funnier" ones very much (the first one i really like is annie hall, though i haven't seen love & death).

i do like play it again, sam a lot too.


message 17: by Sparrow (last edited Jul 17, 2012 01:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sparrow I like the early funny ones a lot, but they definitely do have a feel of watching a series of loosely strung together jokes that isn't always the most fun.

Purple rose is so good. Love and death is good. Oh, dang I just realized I forgot to put zelig on there.

I like the part in play it again, sam, where he asks the girl at the museum what she's doing on saturday night.


Sparrow I think my ranking is messed up between numbers 10 and 35. I should watch them all again to make a better ranking.


message 19: by j (new)

j oh broadway danny rose is good too! i think i like his early-80s nostalgia period best (including radio days).


message 20: by Jason (last edited Jul 17, 2012 01:20PM) (new)

Jason That whole list and I've only seen Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris. WEAK!


message 21: by Sparrow (last edited Jul 17, 2012 01:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sparrow Joel wrote: "oh broadway danny rose is good too! i think i like his early-80s nostalgia period best (including radio days)."

Those two are so wonderful. I guess I would probably agree, but I don't think I could actually choose a full favorite period. Because I totally love the Bergmans, and I love the early funny ones, and I actually do love some of the new ones. I saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona like five times in our dollar theater.

OH MY GOD I FORGOT MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY! Geez.


message 22: by Sparrow (last edited Jul 17, 2012 01:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sparrow Jason wrote: "That whole list and I've only seen Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris. WEAK!"

I thought Midnight in Paris was okay. It was kind of like a diluted, less-good version of Purple Rose of Cairo.


message 23: by j (new)

j ok, i did NOT like AMNSC, but i was very young at the time.


Sparrow haha! I liked it! But, it is another Bergman, I think. Have you seen Smiles of a Summer's Night? I totally love that Bergman. I think MNSC draws a lot from that and then from just general silliness.


message 25: by j (new)

j no. and at the time i don't think i knew it was a bergman, but i found out later. but i still don't think i would necessarily like it.


message 26: by Jason (new)

Jason The only Bergman films I've seen are Fanny and Alexander and Saraband.


Sparrow Joel wrote: "no. and at the time i don't think i knew it was a bergman, but i found out later. but i still don't think i would necessarily like it."

Yeah, that's fair. It maybe has that feel of the early ones?

Jason wrote: "The only Bergman films I've seen are Fanny and Alexander and Saraband."

I haven't seen either of those.


message 28: by Miriam (new)

Miriam tommie wrote: "aw. yeah. or even sometimes, there are cases where i DID do something, but it's like... maybe we can discuss letting it go? but we wont, because we're not in touch anymore. and then that's just it."

Yeah, and I think it is important, if you care about the other person, to consider how the misunderstanding may make the other person feel. Like, a friend of mine in college let his girlfriend break up with him because she thought he was cheating. Being cheated on is a crappy feeling and I thought it was pretty selfish of him to let her feel that way.


message 29: by Jason (new)

Jason F&A is amazing...but I think you'd have to see the miniseries version. I can't imagine how that was truncated into 3 hours.


message 30: by j (new)

j fanny & alexander is good, but it isn't very bergman-y. it's a lot warmer and more nostalgic. nostalgia for his shitty childhood.


Sparrow Yeah, I had to take a break from Bergman when I started having nightmares. I'll probably watch him again, though, and fanny & alexander is def on the list.


message 32: by David (last edited Jul 17, 2012 02:08PM) (new)

David Jason wrote: "The only Bergman films I've seen are Fanny and Alexander and Saraband."

Morais! You need to see Cries and Whispers. And Persona. And The Silence. They're in my top ten of all time.


message 33: by David (new)

David Not that this will surprise you, Sparrow, but your Woody Allen list is mostly antithetical to mine. Haven't you seen Manhattan Murder Mystery?? It's my most favorite Woody Allen film!

I just saw To Rome with Love this weekend. It's one of my least favorites. It's one of only four Woody Allen films that I dislike.


message 34: by j (new)

j manhattan murder mystery is a lot of fun!

you should have used a list, meredith.


message 35: by David (last edited Jul 17, 2012 02:20PM) (new)

David She also left off Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask and Everyone Says I Love You and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.


message 36: by j (new)

j i can't believe she remembered cassandra's dream!


message 37: by David (new)

David Joel wrote: "i can't believe she remembered cassandra's dream!"

And Celebrity. I always forget about that one. Deservedly.


Sparrow I agree about Cries and Whispers and Persona. I really hated The Silence, though.

Dude, oh man, I can't believe I forgot to put so many on the list!! Manhattan Murder Mystery is a really good one. I did use a the imdb list, but in my defense, I was really drunk when I wrote this. Not that it is a defense, but it is a fact. Also, it seemed like a lot of work to go back through and double check that I had gotten all of them. And it is turning out to be easier to have you guys tell me the ones I missed, so I was not wrong about that.

Yeah, I had seen a few years ago that we were opposite on the Woody Allens. I guess I feel neutral on the issue of whether that is a surprise or not.


Sparrow I remembered cassandra's dream because ewan mcgregor is in it. So, right there it should be at the very top of my list, but I can't say it is.

I remembered celebrity because it is so terrible. So, so terrible.


message 40: by j (new)

j but it has young leeeeeeooooooo!


Sparrow I wish I had used the word lame instead of terrible. Terrible was the wrong word.

I don't really care about leo. I care about ewan mcgregor.


message 42: by David (new)

David Joel wrote: "but it has young leeeeeeooooooo!"

And Kenneth Branagh doing his best Woody Allen impression. (It's okay to be the Woody Allen surrogate in a movie, but you don't have to speak like him and use his mannerisms too, Kenny.)


message 43: by David (new)

David I'm excited for Woody Allen's next one which is supposed to have Louis C.K. in it—who is brilliant.

But then again, Woody's pairing with Larry David should have been a match made in heaven, and we know how that turned out.


Sparrow David wrote: "She also left off Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask and Everyone Says I Love You."

I actually . . . think I might not have seen these two. Weird. I remember the sperm uniforms, but nothing else. And, I feel like I have seen Ed Norton in a Woody Allen, but nothing is coming back to me from the descriptions. It's kind of good to know there are still a couple to watch.


Sparrow Yeah, I basically liked Whatever Works. I had zero expectations for it, though, because I'm not crazy about Larry David. I feel basically the same about Louis C.K.


message 46: by Sparrow (last edited Jul 17, 2012 02:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sparrow But, it was annoying last night on The Daily Show last night when Louis C.K. said that when women talk about rape, what we really want is for people to listen to our feeeeeelings. So, he's on my bad side right now.


message 47: by mark (last edited Jul 17, 2012 03:07PM) (new)

mark monday Sparrow wrote: "haha! I liked it! But, it is another Bergman, I think. Have you seen Smiles of a Summer's Night? I totally love that Bergman. I think MNSC draws a lot from that and then from just general sill..."

one of my favorite Bergman's, along with F&A. Through a Glass Darkly & Hour of the Wolf are also pretty great. and Cries & Whispers. and the Bergman with Bergman. Autumn Sonata?


Sparrow I have not nearly seen enough Bergmans, but I think for me the ones I have seen go like this:

1. Persona
2. Winter Light
3. Smiles of a Summer Night
4. Cries and Whispers
5. Through a Glass Darkly
6. Wild Strawberries
7. Seventh Seal
8. Sawdust and Tinsel
9. The Silence

And I like all of them except the Silence, which was very effective in its own way, but I hate it.


message 49: by Jason (new)

Jason David wrote: "Morais! You need to see Cries and Whispers. And Persona. And The Silence. They're in my top ten of all time."

But not The Seventh Seal? That's the one I be hearin' most about. No worries, I'll just continue piling onto my already inflated Netflix queue. Brian made me add some Kurosawa.

Ooh, The Artist arrives tomorrow. I bet you've already seen that one, Kowalski?


message 50: by David (last edited Jul 17, 2012 06:47PM) (new)

David mark wrote: "and the Bergman with Bergman. Autumn Sonata? "

Autumn Sonata is hilarious. Especially when the crippled girl crawls out of her bedroom. Comedy gold.


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