Movie Review: Alice (1990)

Entertaining film of troubles with the gilded cage, by Woody Allen
Reviewed by Brian R. Wright  ________________ Rating 9/10

Set in the posh East Side/Fifth Avenue world of wealth and youth, Alice (Mia Farrow) has been married to Doug (William Hurt), a millionaire businessman, for 15 years. They have two kids, with a nanny, and live in what looks like a $5,000 to $10,000 per month apartment. After having the chauffeur drop off her kids at the elite private school, Alice basically spends her weekdays in an epicurean montage: manicures, pedicures, hair styling, massage, acupuncture, shopping, gossiping with her similarly situated girlfriends.

What instigates her initial discomfort is a back ache that won’t go away. One of her friends recommends a Chinese ‘herbalist,’ a Dr. Yang (Keye Luke) , who serves more as a psycho-therapist and deliverer of tough love… in conjunction with ‘natural substances’ to cure the various dramas that are Alice’s unfulfilled life. She starts with something that opens her up emotionally and sensually toward an apparently single man, Joe (Joe Montegna), she finds attractive who brings his child to the same school that Alice’s kids attend. Good writing, and very good acting—I consider Alice to be a major tour de force of Mia Farrow’s career. She’s simply magnificent, and hilarious, as the dominating presence in her initial conver-sation with Joe, which moves the relationship to the next step.

So much more, as Alice starts to break out of her shell and leaves behind her insecurities, seen in her various relationships…with Joe, of course, but also with her first love Ed (Alec Baldwin—quite the handsome stud in 1990), her sister Dorothy (Blythe Danner), a woman friend Nancy Brill (Cybill Shepherd) who has ‘made it’ as a TV executive and to whom Alice goes to to propose a writing project, and so forth. All these relationships are drawn finely and fittingly into the general plot of Alice trying to find fulfillment away from the superficial life that she knows she’s leading but is afraid to let go of. Continue reading

Movie Review: Another Woman (1988)

One of Woody Allen’s most poignant efforts, speaks to aging and regrets
Reviewed by Brian R. Wright

Before I launch into a review of this marvelous creative effort I want to preface things by repro-ducing an email sent in response to one of my co-workers who dismisses Allen’s films with one word: pedophile. Forget that the usage of that word includes many meanings: some innocent platonic affection for the young, some inappropriate attention, some literally forced sex. Then consider we live in a world that to be accused of something is to be guilty of it. What my coworker is really saying is that he doesn’t care how good or creative an individual is, and doesn’t care to know the truth in any event. To him it’s depravity by hearsay.

Here’s the note:

“Sifting thru the alleged sexual abuse information in Wikipedia, I’m not finding anything solid that Woody Allen is guilty of anything but (perhaps grossly) inappropriate behavior toward a minor. In the big custody case re: adopted girl Dylan the Connecticut team found “no evidence of sexual assault.” Although the judge ruled “grossly inappropriate,” Connecticut (btw this is all timeframe early 1990s) did not pursue molestation charges. Also, New York social services closed its own 14-month investigation stating “no credible evidence” to support allegation of abuse. Continue reading