I used to hate Woody Allen

I am sure my dislike of Woody Allen stems from my mother. She can’t stand him, and I have clear childhood memories of her saying so. “Yuk, he’s so icky,” she’d say, screwing up her face. As a child that stuff gets in there and it sticks. I grew up hating Woody Allen.

In my 20s I discovered the Manhattan Murder Mystery, which I loved. Perhaps because it is Allen’s homage to the Thin Man Films of the 30s with William Powell and Myrna Loy – and as a university film student, I had chewed through those voraciously in a matter of weeks.

Bullets Over Broadway delighted me, and I fell more in love with Dianne Wiest (an ‘affair’ that started with Footloose) who was bold and sexy. “Don’t speak,” she’d cry with that throaty voice, as she seduced John Cusack. Delicious.

Mighty Aphrodite converted me completely; the Greek Drama intrusions appealed to the thespian in me, and Mira Sorvino is brilliantly vague as Linda. At the impressionable age of 26 I had to admit that, “Yes, he is a little icky, but Woody Allen is a creative genius”.

These films were guilty pleasures, and I usually watched alone. I didn’t know how to tell my mother that I had been converted to the ways of Woody. Her echoing words remain, however, and to this day I prefer his films in which he does not appear.

Sadly, I hit a Woody wall in 1996. I went with much anticipation to Everyone Says I Love You. It sucked. Enough said. I returned with hope to De-constructing Harry, which was pretty good, and Melinda and Melinda, which I enjoyed. Some years down the track we arrive at Match Point.

I know I may be alone, but I must confess I did not like Match Point. By the end I didn’t care about any of the characters, particularly the protagonist, and hoped they would all die/get caught. I thought it should have been called What’s the Point?

I left Woody for a while, skipping Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream to return to the fold with Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

I LOVE THIS FILM. I would be so bold as to say that it is in my Top Ten. VCB is passionate, hilarious, dark, heart-breaking, sexy, and poses many pertinent questions about life and love – questions that we must all ponder at some point.

When Penelope Cruz won the Oscar for her portrayal of Maria Elena, a crazed and impassioned woman, I jumped up and down in my living room, and I cried. She was outstanding in this role, and she credits Woody Allen for showing her that she could be this dark and intense.

More recently I was introduced to a quirky wonder of the Romantic Comedy canon. “Have you seen Annie Hall?” asked my film-loving man. “Um, no.” I made a scrunched up face reminiscent of my mother’s. “Oh my God, we have to watch Annie Hall!”

I cannot imagine why I was so reticent. I knew I liked – no, loved – Woody films, so why didn’t I want to see this one, his masterpiece? And then I realized it is because he is the romantic lead in Annie Hall, and he is, well, icky.

I told Ben I would give it 20 minutes, so we started watching on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Brilliant. Hilarious. Moving. Brilliant.

If you can watch the scene where he goes over to her apartment to kill the spider(s) in the bathroom – “Honey, there’s a spider the size of a Buick in your bathroom!” – and not laugh, you must be dead.

–Clumsy, non-existent segue–

As Ben and I lay in bed this morning, talking about how much we didn’t want to get up, and I spied THIS on the ceiling:

Deadly Bedroom Spider
Deadly Bedroom Spider

I then sent my man to do what men must do: kill the spider.

“Do you want to use my stool,” I offered. (I have a little step stool for the kitchen, so I can reach the flour cannister and the good wine.)

“You want me to kill the spider with your stool?” Was he crazy? Then my stool would have spider guts on it!

“No! I want you to stand on my stool and squish it with a tissue, like a real man!”

And so he did.

My hero
My hero

I realize that we’re not quite Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. But watching Ben save me from certain death with a tissue took me back to Woody doing the same for Diane (only he used a tennis racket). Just thinking about that scene makes me laugh.

Yes, I used to hate Woody Allen. Not anymore.