|Woody Allen and Penelope Cruz on set of To Rome With Love|
I went to see To Rome With Love earlier this week with the intention of reviewing it for Bitch Flicks. But this film is practically un-reviewable: the kind of frilly nothing of a movie that exits your brain before you've taken your last sticky step out of the theater. It's four short films set in Rome, unwisely edited together into a would-be Altmanesque ensemble piece, thwarted by temporal disjointedness (switching between a storyline that takes place over the span of a day and those that cover weeks or months) and a failure to thematically link the pieces beyond a tone of jovial silliness. If I had a dollar for every review of To Rome With Love that used the phrase "Lesser Allen", I could pay my rent this month. Because there isn't much more to say about this movie than those two words.
But one thought since seeing To Rome With Love just won't leave me alone: I want a woman to be the next Woody Allen.
I want a woman who makes at least one movie a year for thirty years, without caring that they're all practically the same movie. No one else will care either. If one of her films out of every dozen or so is exceptional in any way, the critics will proclaim that her genius is "back" and award her with another Academy Award even though they know she won't be there to accept it because, I don't know, her Breeders cover band has a standing gig on Sunday nights or something.
I want a woman who can write herself as the main character in 85% of her films, and "act" as this "character" whenever she pleases, or, in her autumn years, have the latest Up-and-Coming Actress step in, doing her best impression of our auteur. Every aspiring actress will have a passable impression of our Lady Allen in her stable of characters, just in case.
I want a woman to be able to cast whatever Hot Young Actor is her current muse as her love interest, and enjoy a real-life relationship with a significant portion of these muses. And should that relationship end by her cheating on him with one of the most scandalous available partners, she will only have to endure ten years of so of late-night jokes at her expense, and suffer zero artistic consequences for her personal indiscretions.
I want a woman who can build Dream Team ensembles for any passing notion of a movie script that might come to her. She'll have a roster of venerable Standard Players, but also be able to pull legends out of retirement or grab the latest It Girl or make the latest It Girl (Never forget: Mira Sorvino has an Oscar).
After Lady Allen writes actors and actresses their Oscar-winning role, they'll be content to be used by her however she sees fit (As in To Rome With Love, where Vicky Christina Barcelona Best Supporting Actress Penelope Cruz takes on a thankless hooker role in an embarrassing Three's Company-style storyline of mistaken identities and pointless ruses), or forgotten and shuffled out of the way for her next muse (Another reminder: Mira Sorvino has an Oscar.)
Let's be clear: I'm not being sarcastic. I am not trying to belittle the great Woody Allen's admirable body of work. I LIKE having silly little diversions of films with stellar casts coming out on the regular. I don't miss the seven bucks I paid to To Rome With Love, a movie that devotes around a quarter of its runtime to setting up a low brow opera joke, just to prove that such a thing can exist. And I LOVE getting to see that one out of every dozen or so Woody Allen movies that is true genius. And I truly believe part of what makes those movies possible is that the powerful, prolific Allen has unfettered release of all his creative notions, and leaves it to his audience to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I just want a woman to get in on this action too. I want a woman to have this level of clout in Hollywood. I want a woman who can get away with making whatever movie she feels like at any given time. I want a woman whose "lesser works" are still recommended, who is free from worrying about being "only as good as her last picture."
So to Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Zoe Kazan, Rashida Jones, Jennifer Westfeldt, Tiny Fey, and the next generation of aspiring writer/director/actresses I say: THIS COULD BE YOUR LIFE. Get cracking.