on January 7, 1999
Bullets Over Broadway has some of the funniest moments in recent cinema. Tracey Ullman, Diane Wiest, and Jennifer Tilly are all outstanding.The problem is Woody Allen's sanctimony and prechiness that slowly infultrates the movie with all it's talk about "the artist creates his own moral universe."Sorry Woody. You can't have it both ways. If you don't want your personal life criticized, quit trying to justify it in your movies.
on September 21, 2002
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe no poll has ever been made about which one is most deemed as Woody Allen's masterpiece by far. I once thought that we seemingly tend to pick whichever we can best relate to, but recently when I had a chance to sit down and watch five of his movies all over again -- "Annie Hall", "Manhattan", "Hannah and her sisters", "Bullets over Broadway", "Mighty Aphrodite" -- I realized that any of us could easily relate to at least something in each of those great films. That would define Allen's genius when it comes to directing (romantic or un-romantic?) comedies. When it comes to casting, though, "Bullets over Broadway" must be the best of all, featuring the finest performance of every actor. Not only the credit must go to those in lead roles (John Cusack -- who played Woody Allen's would-be character, Dianne Wiest, Jack Warden, Jennifer Tilly), but the supporting cast was superb as well (with Tracy Ullman as Eden, Chazz Palmenterri as Cheech, Rob Reiner as Flender, Mary-Louise Parker as Ellen, and Stacey Nelkin -- Allen's ex-girldfriend -- as Rita). This film was perfect in each of its scenes, but if I had to pick my favorite one, it would be the final dialogue between Cusack, Parker, Reiner and Nelkin. I don't remember having heard in any other comedy a dialogue that's so hilarious and so thought-provoking at the same time.
on February 24, 2002
I'm usually pretty hit-and-miss with Woody Allen films, and in this case, it was a definite hit. The film explores the behind the scenes goings-on of a 1930's Broadway show being put into production. John Cusack stars as the self-important young writer/director who finds his play bankrolled by a Mafia kingpin, which necessitates having the kingpin's mistress in the play. Chazz Palmenterri plays the mistress' bodyguard, a man who has a knack for re-writing scenes. The actors in the play are Dianne Wiest, Jim Broadbent, Tracy Ullman, and Jennifer Tilly. All the performers in the movie are exceptional, with special praise to Wiest and Tilly. The dialogue is typically funny for an Allen film, and the plot moves along well. The behind the scenes aspect of the film works very well, and Allen does an amazing job (along with the production team) of re-creating a 1930's atmosphere. The film speaks about the need for art to be accessible to everyone, and not simply a self-indulgent activity that strokes one's ego. This is certainly one of Allen's most accessible films.
on February 18, 2002
It's always all or nothing with Woody Alan. Either the film is brilliant, hilarious and wonderful (as this is) or tedious and flat (Celebrity or that Godawful Everyone Says I Love You). This film flat out makes me laugh hysterically. If you are a theatre buff--add even ten more enjoyment points!
It has a great sense of time and place---thirties Broadway that is just wonderful. What a thrill to see NYC circa 1933
with a great thirites soundtrack including Toot Toot Tootsie.
From Diane Wiest's over the top self absorbed Talullah Bankhead type actress ( Academy award winning performance) to Jennifer Tilly's hysterical mob girl to James Broadbent's nervous actor who just can't stop eating to Chaz Palmentiri's sensitive gangster (also an Academy Award)...this is a hoot and a half! Just can't stop laughing from this film. When I'm down, I watch it and it's a pick me up.
Lots of great surprises--Harvey Fierstein, Rob Reiner,
and other classic character actors in minor roles. This is one of Woody's best! Some of the funniest lines to ever come off an hors dourve tray. See this one. The plot is very surprising and outrageous and lovers of black comedy will
As for some of Woody's other good ones, see Radio Days or Mighty Aphrodite, Broadway Danny Rose or Hannah and Her Sisters. Avoid at all costs Deconstructing Harry and Sweet and Lowdown and the aforementioned Celebrity and Everyone Says I love you.
on May 10, 2001
These last two words were what SHOULD have been added to the last line of the film to make this excellent movie even better. John Cusack, in one of his better roles, plays an aspiring playwright during the 1920s, and considers himself to be a great one--although he later learns that he really isn't. Like his Marxist-inclined intellectual friend Flender (Rob Reiner, looking very much the part), Cusack thinks that art is of supreme importance, perhaps even more important than human life itself. Discussing art in a Greenwich Village cafe, Reiner gives the analogy of a burning building: if you could rush in and save only one of two things--a human being or the last known copy of Shakespeare's works, which would you save? His answer, of course, is Shakespeare's works. Why say such a horrible thing? Because to intellectuals, art "lives." You'd have no right to "deprive the world of this great art" just to save the life of "an anonymous human being," he says. Cusack agrees. But this belief is put to the test when in order to save a work of art, gangster Cheech (well-played by Chazz Palmentieri) actually commits murder. Cusack then realizes that no work of art is worth a human life after all. At this point, Cusack says, "I'm NOT an artist."
on July 21, 2000
Oh Woody, Woody, Woody. When he is funny, he is one of the best comic writers around, and in this movie his writing is hilarious. What other auteur in the cinema today can poke fun at those little idiosyncracies that we all see in ourselves, and get away with it?
Our hero, in a rare departure is not played by Woody Allen but rather, John Cusack, who gives a subtle performance, rather than the over-the-top pisstake by Kenneth Branagh in "Celebrity". He is trying to get his latest play staged, and can only do so by accepting money from the Mob and having a mobster's girlfriend, with no talent, take one of his lead roles. The humour that ensues centres around each of the plays characters, from the fading diva played by Dianne Wiest to the compulsive eater played by the magnificent Jim Broadbent, as they prepare for the play's debut on Broadway. All the performances are spot on and the only criticism comes in the ham-fisted fashion that the film concludes with a mobsters shootout and its all too happy ending.
Nevertheless this is well worth watching to hear great comic lines and the splendid cast who deliver them.
on June 12, 2000
When Woody Allen writes a screenplay about Broadway, it is necessarily explosive. He sees and shows every single little funny aspect of artists, males and females, actors, playwrights and all the others. The women are hysterical, selling themselves not by the pound but by the line, or even the cue. Men are slobs that eat, drink and take adavantage of those cheap but transient women. Woody Allen even adds some Italian maffia in the whole business, including on the stage before the premiere or even during and after. The bodyguard becomes the real playwright and he kills the girlfriend of his boss because she is not a good enought actress. And he then gets executed by the gunmen of his boss directly in the wings of the New York premiere. It is not the film where you will laugh out like a noisy bunch of firecrackers. But It is funny all along, humorous, witty, and the situations are so silly and ridiculous that those puppets that the actresses and actors are become like a bunch of crazy termites turning psychotic by the second and schizophrenic by the minute. The film attacks you in your common sense and simple-mindedness. You used to think that the theater, be it Broadway in New York or Covent Garden in London, was a world of glamour, passion, beauty and style. You discover it is a mean mean mean world of pettiness and petticoats, and you do not know any more if you prefer the pettiness of these midgets or the petticoats of those dwarves. Everyone is so small in that world that you feel like a giant when reclining in your armchair and listening to their rowdy bull. If you had any intention of entering the career, you will definitely turn your coat around and trace your steps back to your armchair and your night-cap. And yet, there is some charm in this crazy folly, and that charm is just undescribable and Woody Allen makes us feel it in the last sad and anticlimactic scene that goes back to the gutter running in front of the beautidul and luminous marquees. Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, Universities of Paris IX and II.
on May 4, 2000
How could you possibly be wrong with a Woody Allen movie ! You can be sure to enjoy solid actors, great jazz music and the always recognizable Allen touch. His movies are at the least of above-average quality and often at the level of pure masterpieces. Let's be honest ! Not so many directors can pretend to such a filmography.
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY develops typical Allen themes such as the thin margin existing between cinema, in this movie more precisely theatre, and the real world, the secret of artistic inspiration or the delicate critique of the so-called intellectual circles. It's also a dark comedy with moments of deep emotion such as the complete rewrite of John Cusack's play by the inspired mafioso Chazz Palminteri.
As always, actors are wonderful with a special mention to John Cusack who portraits a young Woody Allen clone forced to admit that he hasn't any talent at all. That's not given to everybody !
No special features except a scene access (is it really a so special feature after all ?) and english subtitles that can be very annoying at times because Woody Allen's characters spend a lot of time talking and talking and talking...
A DVD that is going to be better and better with years passing by.
on September 16, 1999
As a die hard Woody Allen fan, I can honestly state that this is one of his best efforts. The characters are so incredibly good (dare I say delicious?) and the actors who bring them to life are equally exquisite. From Dianne Wiest ("Don't speak...Don't speak") to Jennifer Tilly ("Hey, Venus, where's that hooch?") to Chaz Palmentieri("You don't write the way people talk")to John Cusack ("I think I'll go now and get the psychiatric help I need"). The rest of the cast is equally marvelous, especially Tracey Ullman. She really is nothing short of brilliant in everything she does. This movie is just a delight throughout. It is truly droll and clever, never once loosing it's intelligence. The attention to detail is admirable, so much so that the film seemingly leaps out at you from the screen. I've seen this film more times than I care to mention and each time I find myself enjoying it more. Only Woody Allen could have devised such an ironic plot twist. He is, without question, the O. Henry of the cinema. One final note: No one, and I mean no one, can make New York seem more fabulous and intoxicating than Mr. Allen. All his films are love letters to this the greatest of American cities. This is to the person who accused Woody Allen of preaching through the Rob Reiner character: Give me a major break. He was spoofing the tendency of some over-indulgent artists to dramatize and take himself too seriously. Sometimes a cigar, my friend, is just a cigar. Don't read so much into things. It can sometimes get you into trouble.
on July 2, 2001
I'll keep this short and non-pretentious.
I find this film very enjoyable. Although Woody Allen isn't in this film, blatent aspects of his own neurotic behavior leak through John Cusak, and very well. The acting is superb. Jennifer Tilly's Olive must, must, must be an homage to Jeane Hagen's Lina Lamont in "Singin' in the Rain." In general, the characters are all hysterical, although the plot is very predictable, especially anything mob-related.
As far as the DVD goes, where're all the features that DVDs are loved for most? I looked at the back of the damn thing, at the bright blue "Special Features" box, and sighed as I read "Widescreen." Wow. Isn't that expected anyway? It might as well have read, "In Color."
Ah, I'm too harsh. I did enjoy this movie on DVD, but I was definitely let down by the lack of features. Oh, and the sound is really ..., too. 2-Channel! This must be the future!
I'm outta here.