WOODY ALLEN'S MINI-SERIES “CRISIS IN SIX SCENES” LAUNCHED AT AMAZON. On the one hand - the uncharacteristic appearance of one of the main American directors in the TV format, on the other - 6 episodes of more than 20 minutes in total are not much longer than a typical Allen film. “Crisis in Six Scenes” is the story of the sudden appearance of the young left-wing radical Lenny Dale, played by Miley Cyrus, at the house of an elderly couple (Woody Allen and Elaine May). The end of the 60s is in the yard: feminist, wanted rebel and fighter for the rights of the oppressed, Dale, flares up at any mention of the values of the middle class. She brings confusion to the house, new order, talk about gender equality and at the same time several like-minded people on the wanted list.
“Crisis in Six Scenes” is an ironic look at the outgoing era, which is bursting at the seams under the onslaught of young punks. Lenny and her generation will be able to wipe out many vestiges of the past from the face of the earth, but retirees do not know about it yet. Woody Allen is filming about the time in which he grew up and which he remembers very well. That's just the end of the 60s, he spent in stand-up and on television, trying to shoot a debut, and not in the forefront of the demonstrators. We will tell you what the director's traditional themes, techniques and types make up his new series.
An adept in psychotherapy and the creator of memorable backstories for each central character, Allen never lets the heroes go out alone. About men and women invented by him cannot be said "without family and tribe." Most of the heroes have demanding mothers and looming fathers, troubled spouses from whom you want to escape to lovers, children and friends, chained by one chain of obligations, rituals and feelings of guilt. Allen, who has worked with his sister as a producer for many decades, understands the determining role of family influence like no one else.
In Crisis in Six Scenes, we see the dynamics of an old-fashioned relationship in a couple who have lived together for so long that the couple will most likely die on the same day. Sidney and Kay got married after World War I and measure the world in terms of the past century. At least this is one marriage for life. They already have nothing to share, like Allen's heroes of Husbands and Wives or Crimes and Misdemeanors. They look terribly out of date - and this is their charm and strength: despite their age, Sydney and Kay are extremely flexible towards each other and have learned to get along under one roof, without getting hung up on contradictions. Collaboration and the spirit of adventure, in which the spouses do not confess to each other for the time being, makes them related to the heroes of "Petty Fraudsters" or "The Mysterious Murder in Manhattan. And the parental dynamics in relation to the accidentally docked fugitive reminds of the conflict between fathers and children in Radio Days, Whatever Happens, and Social Life, where the elders continue to take care of the younger ones, despite their desire for independence.
Setting aside the director's bitter and depressing films about family troubles (the most difficult and saddening are Interiors and September, the most popular and deepest being Hannah and Her Sisters), Allen is one of the most convincing portrait painters of not too happy families in which people do not know how or do not seek to listen to each other. So, the film "You Will Meet a Mysterious Stranger" - a story of depreciation and hypocrisy - he filled with sarcastic gags, and the musical about unfulfilled dreams "Everyone says I love you" - musical numbers, funny cameos and caricatures on tragic life scenarios.
Signs of the times
The series about a young rebel visiting elderly conservatives is misleading with its intonation and author's negligence.As soon as Miley Cyrus in cargo pants, speaking only in raised tones, begins to broadcast about Marx, the director's grumbling immediately appears: all revolutions are nothing more than a consequence of the use of marijuana, bad manners and too much free time. In fact, Allen, who personally saw the changes of the 60s and in many ways became their catalyst, sends greetings to himself and his peers: together they promoted in popular culture for decades and explained in restrained intonations everything that Lenny Dale believes in. A limitless and diverse world without the dichotomy of the Cold War, a little more opportunities for those who are not so lucky, the freedom to practice the art in which you believe in, and to discuss any topic without fear of an explosion of indignation.
Crisis in Six Scenes begins with the 70-year-old protagonist's naive desire for a slightly more interesting haircut - presumably James Dean-style - and ends with revolutionaries in the living room talking about Kalash. Allen often jokes about Black Panthers and improvised bombs, but at the same time clearly demonstrates the difference between living underground and the cultural appropriation of this riot. The discomfort, persecution, lack of money and falling out of the main character's system contrasts with the meetings of the reading club of grandmothers who plunge into Fanon, or the eloquent talks about Cuba in salons performed by those for whom these events are exclusively a subject for small-current.
Allen, who personally saw the changes of the 60s and in many ways became their catalyst, says hello to himself and his peers
Historical drama - a statement about time that limits, but never defines personality - is Allen's constant trick, which the director resorts to almost more often than he arranges filming in new and beautiful cities. In the comedy Love and Death, he sneered at the Russian classics of the 19th century and ridiculed the cliches of mass culture, according to which foreigners still comprehend the mysterious Russian soul. In Zeliga, he rhymed the idea of conformism with the merciless history of the first half of the 20th century, where for safety and survival it was necessary to abandon identity and mimic the environment. In The Purple Rose of Cairo, a heartfelt film about the magic of cinema, he explained the phenomenon of the golden age of Hollywood: the industry was fed from the pockets of people who lost hope and fell in love with movie stars when their own life did not bode well.
In Bullets Over Broadway, Allen recalled the mess of the gangster decade, when mobsters not only turned around, but offered ideas for plays, bought the location of actresses, and hired a large retinue for every whim. In Midnight in Paris, the director focused on the disease of the golden age - the exaltation of the mythical past against the predictable present: Paris of the 1920s and 1930s comes to life as an illustration of the time where you want to be. Woody Allen's latest film, High Life, captured the hero at the origins of the entertainment industry, but his choices are a gangster scenario of a businessman, a trophy beauty wife and hypocritical betrayal. Not wanting to be a handyman in a dream factory, Jesse Eisenberg's character threw himself into an opportunity that didn't require his courage.
All elders want a better life for their children - most often the one that they have missed or have not lived to their full potential. “If youth knew, if old age could” - Allen often repeats from this well-known proverb. In Crisis in Six Scenes, Lenny Dale moves, behaves, and speaks differently from the elderly acquaintance who hosted the heroine and her husband. At the same time, the second important character of the series - family friend Alan Brockman, who also visits Syd and Kay and seems to be part of the generation of the 60s - organically and psychologically has much more in common with his parents than with his peer antipode.The greyhound habits, categoricalness and unusual determination of Lenny Dale contrast so much with Alan's willing bride that a quick and burning love does not take long. Lenny herself quickly establishes an intellectual exchange with Kay and her peers from the reading club. Firstly, because of their feminist views on Kay as a victim of patriarchy, and secondly, because of the curiosity and openness of the older generation. Old women, of course, out of habit, stand their ground, but willingly get involved in adventures that are not peculiar to them, they know how to listen, sympathize and believe in all the best that is stored under the husk of maximalist gestures and statements.
Woody Allen used paternalism, patronage and symbiosis in several of his films at once. In the disliked but worthwhile "Something Else", Allen's character spends long hours talking with Jason Biggs - a guy at a crossroads suits his sons and in his 20s is tormented by the same eternal questions that Allen's hero suffered in his youth … Taking on the responsibilities of a mentor, Allen tries to lead him along an unpleasant road of disappointments and painful relationships, he sees in the guy an inexperienced and a little different himself. Best Novel, A Roman Adventure, starring Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg, follows a 40-year-old architect who meets a young student so much like him 20 years ago and becomes his ghost-counselor about life choices and temptations. Observant, experienced and impervious to manipulation, he confidently comments on events in the student's life, but he will have to make his own mistakes and learn to separate the wheat from the chaff exclusively on his own. The great hopes of early youth push aside the skepticism of maturity - it cannot be otherwise.
The decision to cast Miley Cyrus in the lead role in Crisis in Six Scenes is a controversial choice. At least the first couple of episodes, the singer flexes her acting muscles and does not give a convincing performance. Who Allen's camera really focuses on is the show's second heroine, Kay, played by legendary comedian, actress and director Elaine May. It is known that it is more difficult for actresses to get roles in years and even the status of a living legend does not guarantee attention from casting directors and directors. Elaine May is 83 years old, and she plays colossal, funny and breaks stereotypes about women of age.
There is a scenario theory that the main character is the person who changes more than others throughout the story, and Kay, of course, is a fiery motor of the heart. It is she who accepts a young guest without prejudice, gets involved in incomprehensible adventures, becomes a catalyst for women's movement among peers and begins to analyze herself. From a wife in the backyard, she grows to the main character, whose youth, unfortunately, did not have big changes.
Strong female characters are constant heroes of Allen's films: that is why many Hollywood actresses dream of playing for him. The director works with a large number of women in production and gives them more than half of the screen time. Allen's accusations of misogyny are also shattered by the fact that any female characters, even in the case of cameos, always steal the attention of the male audience. Allen's woman is not a submissive partner, but the axis around which the entire system of social relations revolves. Starting with the memorable Annie Hall, who changed the canons of heroines in American cinema, to the later films of the director, his girlfriends are lumps that are always more imposed by stereotypes.
Strong female characters are constant heroes of Allen's films: this is why many Hollywood actresses dream of playing with him
In Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Memories of Stardust, the protagonist is surrounded by three adorable women at once and is unable to make a decisive choice.In "Midnight in Paris" and "The Magic of a Moonlit Night", the camera captures Emma Stone and Marion Cotillard - they are exactly worth to be in Berlin of the 30s or Paris of the 20s, no matter how tempting life at a resort or dinner with Salvador Dali … Little known fact, but it was Allen who directed one of the most powerful and glorious films of women - "Alice" - without any high-profile manifestos in the media. Despite comedian Larry David in Whatever It May, it is Evan Rachel-Wood who is trying to break through in Manhattan - the intersection of all plot threads.
As compelling as Jesse Eisenberg is in his growing up story in High Life or A Roman Adventure, Allen's rom-coms are always focused on the best actresses, whom he casts greedily and in batches as soon as they light up. Kristen Stewart vs. Blake Lively or Ellen Page vs. Greta Gerwig. Did you also know that Allen filmed Madonna, Julia Roberts and Mira Sorvino? Urgently hurry up to review his filmography.
The negative reviews of Allen's series are filled with accusations of clichés, self-parody and repetitions - which is easy to blame on all directors with a recognizable manner. Perhaps the key point to consider before watching Crisis in Six Scenes is not so much a sitcom as it is grotesque in a historical context. Like "8 Women" by François Ozon, the characteristic kitsch of Pedro Almodovar, films by Terry Gilliam or a movie about the spy Austin Powers. In Crisis, Woody Allen easily returns 40 years ago - to a time when he did not have an Oscar and the status of an important director and dabbled in silly comedies on the topic of the day.
Bananas Film - a mockery of revolutionary movements in Latin America - Allen filmed amid the political aggravation of the 70s in an effort to defuse the situation and reduce the degree of seriousness. The main character, who enters the army of the influential commander, is from the same generation as the maximalist Lenny Dale. "Grab the Money and Run" was one of the first mocumentari films: Allen turned a petty crook into the main character, and the media ways of presenting the story - shock! video! sensation! - into a convincing satirical tool. In Petty Fraudsters, the director takes the idea of a bank robbery to the point of absurdity: in the first half of the film, the characters commit a crime, and in the second they try to come to terms with their new status and burdensome state. It turns out that choosing a zebra carpet and collecting works of art is no easier than digging under a bank.
In The Sleeper, the director sneers at the phenomenon of “a man who fell to Earth” and all ethereal dreams of conquering the Universe and winning the space race. Half a century after the silent films, Allen has the courage to admit that slipping on a giant banana peel is still a working comedy trick. In "Love and Death" he brings the heroes of Russian classics to the point of absurdity. And in mokumentari "Zelig" - simply one of the smartest comedies of the twentieth century - unleashes a flurry of black humor and jokes about social status, skin color, the fragility of the "norm" and the strength of social movement on the audience. After the Holocaust, laughter is needed no less than poetry - just to get oxygen into the lungs.
In Crisis of Six Scenes, Allen returned to his old self and in some ways was certainly repeated. However, mainly in his first series, the director says that abstract ideas of revolution, change and world justice are much easier to cope with when they materialize in your kitchen, smoke too much and strive to eat a portion of your favorite Chinese chicken.
Photos: Amazon Studios