Monday, August 31, 2015

Song of the Day: 'Gymnopedie No. 1' by Erik Satie

One of the perks of dating someone who'd only seen one Woody Allen movie before you'd met is getting to introduce him to the complete works of Woody Allen, without question my favorite filmmaker. After working our way through an early slapstick gem ("Bananas"), some of the classics ("Manhattan," "Annie Hall," "Play It Again, Sam," "Hannah and Her Sisters") and some of his best work from the '80s ("Broadway Danny Rose," "The Purple Rose of Cairo," "Crimes and Misdemeanors" -- some of which might also qualify as classics, depending on the day), I decided to show him one I'd only seen on home video when it came out in 1988. My recollection of "Another Woman" was somewhat faint -- what I remember more than anything is that I'd rented it from Tower Video in Tempe, Ariz., while attending Arizona State University and accidentally kept it for weeks, racking up something like $90 in late fees, back when owning a VHS movie really did cost in the hundreds. So what a treat it was to watch it again as a fully formed (I'd like to think!) adult, especially one at a similar crossroad in life as the film's principal, Marion Post, exquisitely played by the great Gena Rowlands. Not only did I come to appreciate the restrained touch Allen brought to this dramatic and thought-provoking film -- as opposed to "Interiors," a much more heavy-handed attempt at the genre -- everything about the picture connected with me this time around, from Betty Buckley and Sandy Dennis' small-but-pivotal scenes to the surprise of seeing Frances Conroy (the mom on "Six Feet Under") and Martha Plimpton (as Marion's stepdaughter) to the film's profound dialogue and haunting soundtrack, none more so than Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1," dba Marion's theme. When it ended, we discovered that it was recently announced that Rowlands, now 85, would be receiving an honorary Oscar this fall at the Governors Awards, a distinction her performance in "Another Woman" undoubtedly played a part in.


Blobby said...

While I love many an Allen film (and a few I do not), I think "Another Woman" ranks in my top 3. Easily.

Henry Holland said...

I watched The Purple Rose of Cairo on cable yesterday, I liked it a lot. Jeff Daniels, woof!

Frank said...

I love this movie and just watched it again for the umpteenth time. Gena Rowlands was snubbed by the Oscars. She hasn't had a part this good since. It's unbelievable to think the movie is less than 90 minutes because so much happens and through it all is that haunting Gymnopédie No. 1 which is played throughout the film. A must see!