Archive for 1980s

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Posted in Film, Woody Allen with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30 September, 2008 by Ally

Woody Allen, 1985

They always say you ought to write what you know, which is why so many films chronicle the creative process. From Sunset Boulevard to Adaptation, Hollywood’s favourite subject is itself. But great as they are, most of these films seem determined to make the audience understand the pain of the artist, the stress of putting together a production, how hard it is to make something look effortless. It’s rare to find a film that appreciates the finished product above all, and understands the spell it casts over the ordinary person sat there in the dark.

Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo is one of those films. Set in Depression-era New Jersey, it stars Mia Farrow as Cecilia. She’s a timid woman with an abusive husband (Danny Aiello), and a stressful waitressing job which she constantly jeopardizes with her clumsiness and daydreaming. Her only comfort is the cinema, where she can lose herself in shimmering Hollywood gloss for an hour and a half.

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Withnail and I

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 12 September, 2008 by Ally

Written and directed by Bruce Robinson, 1986

Withnail and I is the tragicomic story of two unemployed actors struggling to survive in the London of 1969. Their dilapidated surroundings and constant drug abuse sees them “drifting into the arena of the unwell.” Desperate for a change of scenery, they holiday in a Cumbrian cottage owned by Withnail’s uncle Monty, which turns out to be a site with fresher air but equal squalor. And unbeknown to Marwood, he has been promised to Monty in exchange for the cottage.

It is the very definition of a cult film. Its fans are not as numerous as those of the Stars (Wars and Trek) but they are just as dedicated, and able to recite screeds of the endlessly-quotable script. They are known to make pilgrimages to Penrith to find the grotty little cottage; to find potatoes in the mud, and see the front door now bearing a plaque reading “Here Hare Here”. Many have even died playing the drinking game in which viewers match either of the title characters drink-for-drink. Well perhaps not died, but wished they had. Either way it is not recommended to drink as Withnail, who at one point resorts to downing a canister of lighter fluid. Continue reading