Happy Third Anniversary to Cinemaniac Reviews!

We’ve traveled around the sun an entire three times since I started Cinemaniac Reviews.  If I had to take a guess, I’d say that between all the typing, writing, scratching out, erasing, backspacing, and returning the carriage of my manual typewriter after each line of text, my fingers have probably done three laps around the sun, as well.

So I’ve decided to treat my fingers to another triathlon, and to treat you guys to a short screenplay. Well, it’s just dialogue, and it’s not exactly formatted correctly. WordPress doesn’t seem to like it when I cut and paste stuff I’ve written in screenplay format onto the blog.

So without further ado, here’s some dialogue for y’all to enjoy:

Read the dialogue…

Woody Allen: A Filmography Complete – Part II

By Alexander Diminiano

Picking up from where I left off yesterday with this guy.

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This post will feature #25-#11 of the worst to best of Woody Allen.  Tomorrow at 1pm, we’ll finish up with #10-#1.  Check back at yesterday’s post if you missed #44-#25.

25. Love and Death (1975)

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24. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)

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23. Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

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22. Oedipus Wrecks (1989) [segment of New York Stories]

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21. Whatever Works (2009)

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20. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982)

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19. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

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18. September (1987)

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17. Deconstructing Harry (1997)

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16. Small Time Crooks (2000)

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15. Sleeper (1973)

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14. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

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13. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

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12. Midnight in Paris (2011)

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11. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

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Stay tuned for Part III, coming your way in 24 hours!

Woody Allen: A Filmography Complete – Part I

By Alexander Diminiano

Yep. Now that I’ve seen every movie Woody Allen has directed, my life does feel pretty empty.

Allan Stewart Konigsberg, otherwise known as Woody Allen, remains the most respected screenwriter in all of American cinema. Take one look at one of his movies and you can tell why.

Actually, be careful which of his movies you pick. He’s got a bunch of classics. But he’s got 45 movies overall, mind you. There are some real stinkers out there that I would not recommend watching.

Technically, this is not a filmography complete. His newest film, “Magic in the Moonlight” is currently in limited release and I am unable to see it as of yet. Seeing how most of the movies he has made for his current distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, expanded to wide release after four weeks, it won’t even be playing near me until almost four weeks from now. (The movie just opened two days ago, and it’s not playing in very many theaters at all.)

But I’m pretty impatient, so let’s get this over with. Here’s my ranking of Woody Allen’s movies from worst to best. Actually, this is just part one, which will be #44 through #26. Part two will be posted tomorrow at 1pm, and that will feature #25 through #11. Part three will be posted Tuesday at 1pm, and of course that will feature #10 through #1.

So, without further ado, I give you…Mr. Woody Allen.

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44. Celebrity (1998)

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43. What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1967)

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42. Cassandra’s Dream (2007)

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41. Melinda and Melinda (2004)

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40. Scoop (2006)

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39. Anything Else (2003)

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38. Shadows and Fog (1991)

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37. Hollywood Ending (2002)

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36. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)

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35. Husbands and Wives (1992)

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34. Alice (1990)

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33. To Rome with Love (2012)

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32. Another Woman (1988)

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31. Stardust Memories (1980)

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30. Radio Days (1987)

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29. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex * but Were Afraid to Ask (1972)

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28. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

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27. Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

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26. Bananas (1971)

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Stay tuned for Part II, coming your way in 24 hours!

Announcement

Hey all,

Starting August 13th, Cinemaniac Reviews will be taking a brief hiatus. I’ll be back by the 24th of August with reviews as usual.

Just thought I’d figured I’d give you all three weeks’ notice, instead of announcing the hiatus immediately. I’m guessing “the earlier, the better” would be true in this case.

Peace.

–Alexander “The Cinemaniac” Diminiano

The Cinemaniac Reviews Staff Expands

Another fanatic of both film and writing, Red Stewart, has now been knighted as the first official contributing writer for Cinemaniac Reviews. No, I’m not going anywhere; I’ll still be here as chief writer, but we’ll have one additional mind for an occasional review. As they say, the more the merrier. He’s a great writer (otherwise he wouldn’t be contributing) and I’ll be putting his review of Blue Valentine on the schedule shortly.

Movies of every shape and size. UGH.

Movies change over time. In some ways it’s neat to go back and look at how that’s happened.

As far as aspect ratios, it’s not. Not for me. The different shapes and sizes of movies change so much so often. It brings out my OCD and makes me nuts.

Aspect ratios are expressed length:height of the picture you see on the screen. Modernly, we have either 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 at the movie theaters. Everything’s widescreen today, but the latter is known as “anamorphic.” The picture is more than twice as long as it is tall. In the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, this was known as CinemaScope. Example: Ben-Hur. Before and during that time, most movies were 1.33:1, which is a squarish, full screen TV size of the past. Oh but it gets more radical. There’s 2.75:1. Panavision.

Is all this confusing? Simply put, it looks terrible on a TV today if it’s not 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. If those black bars on the sides or too and bottom distract you, you can stretch the picture to fit the screen, which means the characters look too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, and blah blah blah. Given how many movies I’ve watched in god knows how many formats, I’m sick of the black bars and stretching. Why do we have to watch movies with black bars? Movies like Napoléon bear as much as a 4:1 aspect ratio. Four times as long as it is tall. How the hell do you watch that on a modern TV and expect to be able to see the characters, when the black bars are bigger than the actual picture, or the characters look squeezed anorexically to fit your screen?

And in Europe, the standard aspect ratio is 1:67. That differs not much from the American standard 1:85, but it’s still a considerable difference.

Am I just nuts? Or does someone else on this planet see a problem with how movies have changed? Should all movies just be projected onto walls or projection screens, rather than viewed on TVs, so to avoid the need for black bars and stretching? Should I give myself a more theatrical viewing by covering the black bars with red velvet curtains?

What’s your take on this madness (and yes I am talking about the vastly different aspect ratios throughout movie history, not my own OCD)? Leave me a comment.

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Into the Woods, Beside the Woods…Maybe Under the Woods?

When I say the name “Underwood,” what comes to mind? Country singer Carrie Underwood? Frank Underwood from House of Cards?

Perhaps an old-fashioned Underwood typewriter?

I know it’s going to be a completely different experience, but that’s what I’m seeking out of the one I just bought. Yes, I was just the highest bidder for an Underwood manual typewriter on eBay. Vintage. Antique. Whatever you want to call it. Anyway, I was the only bidder (how, I can’t exactly say) and god am I glad I wasn’t sniped at the last second.

If you’re one of those people who wants to read an entire post about a typewriter and make a snarky comment like, “Blah blah why would you buy a typewriter MacBooks are the new thing,” well guess what I’ll still be using this MacBook to write reviews. I’ll just be drafting reviews (and screenplays) on this manual typewriter. And if you seriously have the nerve to hate on typewriters for something as slow as a computer, seriously, just get the hell off my blog.

For those who appreciate this nostalgic treasure as much as I myself do, it looks sort of like this:

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That’s an online image, and it’s not the one they showed on eBay, but it looked most like the one I bought looked on eBay, if that makes sense.

Hopefully I’ll be posting more pictures of my baby boy on this here blog when he comes in the mail. Yes I’m anthropomorphizing him. Is there something wrong with that? I’ve already named him. His name’s Pedro. Pedro the Processor.

R.I.P. Maya Angelou

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Earlier today, Maya Angelou passed away at age 86 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This woman is to be remembered for her pivotal role in the literary civil rights movement, particularly her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She is pictured above reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton in January of 1993. Angelou remained active as a poet and essayist from 1969 (the publication of her memoir) until her recent death. For her powerful way with words, she will be long remembered.

R.I.P. Gordon Willis

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Yesterday, the great Gordon Willis died at the age of 82. As the news rolled in earlier today, no doubt that the world of film–and the world in general–began to face the tragedy that it had lost such a revolutionary and outstanding cinematographer. The Academy noted rather accurately, upon presenting his Honorary Award in 2009, that the man bears a strong “willingness to fly in the face of convention.” Known as “The Prince of Darkness” by many, Willis’s remarkable techniques were a major and often under appreciated part of what rectified movies like The Godfather and Annie Hall as masterpieces. I don’t know what else to say, other than I’m shocked, and he is certainly missed. May he rest in peace.