Woody Allen vs. The City of New York

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Woody Allen vs. The City of New York

By Nikolos Gonzales

Artist Statement:

Being a fan of Woody Allen has always made me think of New York in a picturesque, romantic sort of way, just as he thinks of it in nearly every movie he's made-most notably Manhattan. Of course, New York in the 1970s-the decade of Woody Allen's most famous movies-had its bad side, too, as seen in some of the most controversial movies released in that decade: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and The French Connection--all taking place within New York (for at least the majority of the movie). When you see a Woody Allen picture, it's almost impossible to think of him tackling the gritty underground violence, especially after seeing his screwball sex comedies.

What I've done is combine footage and audio from these polar opposite views of New York City. My focus is not necessarily to contrast them but to create a work that analyzes what the reality of that grittiness does to a mind that-like Allen's-is hopelessly in love with the Big Apple of the '70s. In Allen's corner, Annie Hall, Bananas, and Manhattan. In The City of New York's, those mentioned above_: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver,_ andThe French Connection.

The first part is Woody Allen's personality, exposed, then his view of the city, triumphantly striking against the images of New York that adorn the introduction ofManhattan, "Rhapsody in Blue" and all. Then, the fast-paced jagged edge of the gritty underground--images of Travis Bickle shooting at the camera, drive-bys at night. Everything, it seems, as he faces the people that love him and the people that despise him.

The middle sees the true violence come out, through the lens of a projector--as if Allen is going to the movies and finally seeing the films that could have taught him something about the other side of New York. More violence. Lessons learned.

Finally, a resolution-a change back to optimism for the director, but the final shot sees him still having the bloody images in the back of his headjust to remind him, but not necessarily to change him completely. This optimism is painted by the use of New York, I Love You, a modern movie filled with romantic vignettes taking place around the city. A final warning shot closes the piece after the credits: the new Woody Allen's signature.

My argument is not necessarily that Woody Allen is missing the real New York City, nor do I have really any argument at all. The films I've chosen to represent the real New York only use the setting of the '70s and are highly stylized in terms of blood and violence. Someone could just as easily make a movie that makes Martin Scorcese look at things the way Woody Allen did-some sort of neurotic look at relationships that bridges drama and screwball comedy.

As for the process, nearly all of it in Final Cut Pro. Some photoshop work.

Direct Links:

Vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/10227921

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg3nsolB4h4

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