His image has not been without controversy, especially for his eccentric behavior. The author snubbed Hollywood when he won his first Oscar for Annie Hall in 1977 and did not attend the awards ceremony— alleging that he had forgotten the event because he was absorbed in one of his clarinet sessions.
In his personal life, he was also involved in scandalous controversies that threatened to destroy his reputation, but the lack of evidence to incriminate him for improper conduct—added to his unique creative genius—managed to keep his career intact.
The 84-year-old Allen has won four statuettes at the Academy, has been nominated for the Oscar more than 20 times, has been awarded two Golden Globes, and has reaped triumphs at film festivals in different latitudes. In 2002, he received the Prince of Asturias Prize and a statue in his honor was erected in Oviedo, Spain. In June 2007, he was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa by the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.
His full film production leaves no room for indifference, even in his less successful movies. Most of his work is characterized by a scathing and subtly corrosive humor, and although Allen has delved in genres like drama and thriller, his forte is the comedy, which he can use as a road on which to run other dramaturgical formats —always towards reflective destinations.
Among his best films, we find Annie Hall, a classic of American piece of cinema and undoubtedly his most accomplished story; Manhattan (1979), a movie that is full of romance and a beautiful elegy to New York; the captivating Match Point (2005), an elegant proposal nuanced by ethical insights; the acclaimed Hanna and Her Sisters (1986), a labyrinthine film, splendid in its aesthetics; Husbands and Wives (1992), a brilliant combination of drama and comedy; or the latest Blue Jasmine (2013), which captivated audiences and critics. The list of excellent films from this prolific filmmaker could be extended even more.
As he ages, his creative rhythm does not decrease. The goal of making a film a year has be-come a kind of personal ritual that involves many challenges for a filmmaker who will not allow box office concessions. His anti-establishment art is a one-way trip during which he doesn’t care if he is exposed to failure. In his journey, Allen fascinates or deflates us when addressing human conflict, but his genius does not go well with the facile solutions of commercial cinema.
That is why the public, knowing his famous obsession to transfer to the screen one work every year, looks forward to the methodical implementation of the cycle.
One of his most recent films, called Café Society, opened at the 69th Festival de Cannes. The film—a romantic comedy starring Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell and Blake Lively—did not compete for the Palme d’Or, but broke various records. It narrates the story of a young man who arrives in Hollywood in the 1930s with the hope of working in the film industry. There, he falls in love and suddenly is plunged into the turmoil of the Café Society that marked the times.
For this film, Allen has relied on the outstanding cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, winner of three Oscars.
This will be the third time that a Woody Allen film opened at the prestigious event, a feat that no one else has been able to achieve. It is also the 14th time that his works are shown in Cannes. Hopefully, for the joy of moviegoers, the ritual will continue.
In addition to Café Society, Allen, recently released his latest movie, “A Rainy Day in New York,” a romantic comedy starring Timothée Chalamet and Elle Fanning, which dropped by Amazon last year. However, there is no sign it will be released in the United States. As of right now it has been released in Europe. ■