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Thanksgiving – Woody Allen

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

If the saying is “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” then we better get around to being thankful for Woody Allen’s time here on earth before it is too late.

As a director and screenwriter he has produced some of the funniest and most memorable films of the last 50 years, and yet he remains largely shunned by the studio system and more loved in foreign markets than his home country of America. As Jesus said “a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”

The maturing of Woody Allen took some time. He started out as a young prodigy and gag-writer for comedians in the 1950s, and by the time he’d lucked into writing and directing his first film scripts for the screen a decade later the projects suffered slightly from being overly full of jokes.

Admittedly he is an acquired taste and his nasal voice can strike some people as the equivalent of nails on a blackboard. Yet if the viewer perseveres, ignores his overpowering nerdiness and instead tune into his wavelength, rather like listening to an unseen radio announcer, the material is crackerjack and still laugh out loud funny.

Woody Allen in Broadway Danny Rose

Take Annie Hall, his first fully mature and complete film, as opposed to one that felt like sketch comedy. We’ve also got to be thankful for him introducing us to Christopher Walken in that movie.

Later on there was the experimental piece Zelig, which pre-dated its protagonist bumbling through history Forrest Gump-like, and the use of CGI to insert its lead character into archival footage, by a decade.

A personal favourite, and in equal parts a bittersweet film, is Broadway Danny Rose which shows him being funny even when he is philosophical.

Finally, from his golden era peak of the mid 1970s to 80s, there are the beautiful vignettes of Stardust Memories, which showcased a perfectly creative way for him to unleash his many neuroses in a comic way.

It doesn’t end there though for the true cinema lover because for more serious fare Allen has also produced a number of films which canvas moral and ethical dilemmas, as in Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point.

It was always going to be a hard task going through a series of Lenten reflections and not striking a polarising subject. Please note today’s reflection is based upon the artistic body of work of the artist and not upon his personal life. Regardless of what you think of the person, and judgement alone is the Lord’s, for the quality of his artistic output and the way he has challenged us but also made us laugh simultaneously, we should be thankful for Woody Allen.

This is the last of the Lenten Reflections. A Happy and Holy Easter to all. Thank you for coming with us on the journey, whether for part of it or for all.

Previous thanksgiving article: Loyalty

The season of Lent asks of us for sacrifice and the foregoing of many things, but an attitude of joy and gratitude should not be amongst them.

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

At the outset it should be made clear the viewpoints expressed here are a matter of individual opinion. If any one item doesn’t coincide with your own personal tastes then why not seek to better it with some thanksgiving of your own rather than a critique? You are always welcome to do so at the Archdiocesan website feedback mechanism.

So we invite you to come, walk with us awhile, and be thankful as we journey together to Calvary and beyond to Easter.

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