2 March 2003

Woody Allen is no longer funny

We went to the Indian restaurant in Porter Square. We go there a lot, and they’d sent us a gift voucher in thanks. Afterwards we went to Star Market to pick up food, as stocks at home were low on various essentials… bread, eggs, fudge brownie mix, cheesecake flavor Haägen-Dazs frozen yogurt, you know, the essentials.

I wandered the aisles in that pleasant post-curry daze of serotonin, slightly spaced out by the bright lights. I started to get this weird feeling, like I was in America and everyone around me was an American. I managed to ignore it and it subsided without leaving me too unnerved.

We got back, and I didn’t really feel like doing anything that involved being vertical, so I lay on the couch and watched Small Time Crooks. Watching the movie was one of those strange situations where I can recognize that something is funny in an abstract intellectual sense, but it doesn’t make me laugh.

Part of the problem is that Woody Allen has disappeared back into his hermetically sealed little universe of him and his circle of friends, and the movie reflects that. It had the air of something made for their own personal amusement.

The last movie of Woody Allen’s I found really funny was Deconstructing Harry; it actually had some bite, because it was a response to the way he was being torn apart in the press at the time over his relationship with Soon-Yi. It seemed to me that it was his way of saying sure, maybe I’m a lecherous bastard, maybe I use other people as raw material for my movies, but that doesn’t mean the art itself is worthless. He was forced to engage with the world, and his moviemaking was much the better for it.

Most of the problem with Small Time Crooks, though, is that I just don’t find social-class comedy funny. I don’t get any major amusement value from laughing at the nouveau-riche, no matter how vulgar their tastes. (Having lived in Buckinghamshire, I know how vulgar it can get.) Seeing someone embarrassed socially by their lack of education in fine arts just doesn’t leave me cackling with glee.

The movie is a Pygmalion story, and you could read into it the message that common people are, well, inherently common; and that they should know their place and not try to rise above their given social standing. If they try, goes the plot, they’ll just get knocked back down by crooks who are far smarter than they are. Which is a pretty obnoxious message, when you come right down to it.

On a funnier note… WWMCD? That is, What Would Margaret Cho Do? I think we should get some bracelets made. Probably leather ones with spikes. She is the ask master!

© mathew 2017