Hot on the high-heels of "Showgirls" comes Woody Allen's latest film, "Mighty Aphrodite," named after the Greek goddess of love, another American film trying to interrogate the questionable mentality and dubious spirituality of the skin trade. A lot will probably be made of the fact that, not satisfied with merely pointing out classical references in his text, Allen decided to have a whole Greek Chorus consisting of F. Murray Abraham, Olympia Dukakis, David Ogden Stiers and Jack Warden filmed in an ancient outdoor amphitheater in Taormina, Italy wearing masks, no <more>
less, in a nod to classical authenticity and genuflect on the alter of genuine myth to underscore the tragic and comedic parts of his film. It doesn't matter how well- versed you are in the Greeks, you'll be able to enjoy what Allen has done with his approach, which is a very refreshing idea for film bringing it all back home and also a great surreal scaffold for the situation he presents. Purists be warned. Allen Now 60 years old, but trying to play his role like he's not a day over 40 and Helena Bonham- Carter 29 years old are happily married when one day Bonham-Carter's biological clock goes off and she wants to have a baby immediately. Allen hesitates so much at the thought of pregnancy that Bonham- Carter, who really can't wait, says, "fine, let's adopt, then," which of course hits the raw nerve of Allen's masculinity as he defends his genes against the idea of having someone else's child join their family.Allen's character in this film is a sportswriter, adding another "tough" layer to his never-ending quiche of a meditation/angst-ridden search for definitive masculinity. Every scene where Allen suffers some sort of gender-related torment is set in a male arena: When he's fighting on the phone with Bonham-Carter about the decision to adopt, the backdrop is a boxing club with every ring filled with sparring partners. Another scene where he contemplates his situation shows him pacing back and forth on the sidelines watching the New York Giants scrimmage in the Meadowlands.The couple finally decide to adopt a boy, and in one scene in particular I realized just how much Allen is stuck in a zeitgeist rut. In their uptown apartment Allen and Bonham-Carter bandy names back and forth for the new little tike as Allen, forever the cultural namedropper, comes up with the monikers of all of his heroes: Django, Groucho, Thelonius. Bonham-Carter is oblivious to his suggestions as she coddles the baby and suddenly you realize that Allen should have made this film years ago, because the conversation sounds like something that was written for what would have been the sequel to "Annie Hall." Now that he's twenty years removed from the carefree days of dynamic dialogue with Diane Keaton and the spark she brought as Allen's main female foil, Bonham-Carter seems unsure of herself, treating Allen as obligatorily as a father or uncle rather than her husband. Enter the plot.Bonham-Carter is being chased by Peter Weller 48 years old , a seductively sleazy art gallery owner, which sends Allen's mid-life crisis into an absolute tailspin as he begins wondering if he's really happy with his wife, and as he's looking at his newly adopted "son" he wonders aloud what the mother of his adopted child is like. Enter Cassandra and...you get the picture.One of the things I realized while watching "Mighty Aphrodite" is that Allen has spent a good portion of his career in film flagellating himself for not being the American Ingmar Bergman, when all the time he should have been luxuriating in the fact that he's the American Federico Fellini: He has an uncanny sense for seeking out ripe minor actors, ready to be picked, and then letting them find the aspect of the character they're playing that makes them Characters rather than just parts played by actors. Even though I feel as if Bonham-Carter is not given nearly enough room to fully flesh out her character which is a shame for an actress of her caliber , the film is really about Linda, the real mother of Allen and Bonham-Carter's adopted child, who turns out to be a ditzy porn star overflowing with spunk and zeal.Linda, played by Mira Sorvino Quiz Show, Barcelona , Paul Sorvino's daughter, steals the film. Allen has tempted fate and defied the Greek Chorus' warnings by seeking out Linda, but since she's in the skin trade he arranges to meet her at her apartment in the guise of being merely a "john." When Allen's reticence at wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am sex gets the better of him, he finally shows the age and mindset that he really is and turns into a grandfather before your very eyes.But, Linda is a ditz first and a hooker second in that she understands her victimization but also begins to realize that her situation is only as hopeless as her innate tenacity is boundless. In the most delicate scene in the film, and maybe the most poignant scene I've seen all year, Sorvino is in her bathtub-sized kitchen trying to defend her life to Allen, and as she keeps talking she realizes her own complicity until she finally mentions that she even had a baby once that she gave up for adoption. Allen gives her this scene by not entering the frame for what seems like a full minute. The direction in this scene alone, in Linda's chessily decorated flat complete with clocks of pigs in heat, shows just how gifted Allen is at being able to take an obscure actress, give her a two-dimensional role and have her find the heart and soul of the film on her own.Leave it to Woody Allen to deliver a film that is fascinating on many levels and is as beautifully structured as anything you're likely to see all year. I don't believe it's Best Picture material, but it does show a very strong return to form for Allen, no matter how unsure he is of reentering the war between the sexes.
Totally enjoyable. Clever writing. It all could develop this way or that way. Sorvino won an Oscar as she should have. I was captivated by Helena Bonham Carter. These Brits prove they can master our accents. I hope Woody has many more years in which to write and direct. If I were an actor I would plead for a part. Woody is AMAZING. Thanks.
Mighty Aphrodite Is A Delight To Watch (by Desertman84)
Woody Allen stars in his latest picture that he also wrote and direct as Lenny, a New York sportswriter bored by his wife and attracted to a hooker that happens to be the mother-though she doesn't know it-of his adopted son in this film,Mighty Aphrodite.Together in the cast with Allen are Woody Allen,Mira Sorvino,Helena Bonham Carter,Michael Rapaport and F. Murray Abraham.Lenny is trapped in a bad marriage to high-strung art dealer Amanda, but he finds solace in his relationship with his adopted young son. Indeed, he grows so fond of the boy that he decides to track down the boy's <more>
real mother, expecting to discover a brilliant professional. Instead, he finds Linda, a ditzy prostitute and porno star who mingles casual vulgarity with disarming innocence. Despite his initial disillusionment, Lenny soon develops a fondness for Linda and decides to play matchmaker, setting her up with a handsome young boxer who is equally good-hearted and scatterbrained. While the contrast between the free-spirited Linda and the uptight Lenny provides the bulk of the laughs, hints of Allen's more literary humor are also present, particularly in the scenes involving a roaming Greek chorus commenting upon Lenny's fate.This is a surprisingly sweet and brilliant film with great performances particularly that from Mira Sorvino,who portrayed a bubble-headed hooker and porn star.It has a nice combination of smart comedy and some of wacky energy.It is a delight to watch.
How close to home do you want to get? (by MOscarbradley)
I have just watched Woody Allen's magnificent movie again for the first time in almost 10 years and am more convinced than ever that it is one of his most under-rated films but then, how do you judge an artist - by his individual works or by the overall body of his work? . And if suddenly I feel I am getting too serious here, let's just say that this is a very funny film.By now there is no escaping the fact that Woody Allen's films are largely autobiographical in that he uses what is happening in his own life to fuel his storylines. For an audience this is sometimes only apparent <more>
in hindsight as the tabloids are quick to exploit Woody's foibiles. But he beats us to it, and for that reason "Mighty Aphrodite" deals us a killer blow - it is very, very funny but in dealing with adoption, children and in marriages on the verge it is also very moving. I laughed till I cried the juxtaposition of the Greek chorus with the contemporaneous is a brilliant device and finally I just cried.As to the movie itself, it is beautifully photographed and brilliantly edited and with some inspired choreography and acted to the highest order: Helena Bonham-Carter standing in for Mia Farrow just as well as Kenneth Branagh stood in for the Woodmeister in "Celebrity" - and how incestuous can we get here . But the final word has to go to Mira Sorvino who is funny, touching and inspired. Sometimes not often the Academy gets it right and her Oscar was one of their finest hours.
Mighty Aphrodite is Woody Allen in a good mood; nice, considerate, thoughtful and completely engaging and delightful to watch. Taking major themes from Greek tragedies such as troubles of relationships and parenthood, Allen constructs here a tale that spins a story with its roots in Ancient Greek theater while maintaining his vintage Manhattan style.In true Greek form, Allen plays a writer who adopts a son with his wife and after finding out how gifted the boy is begins to track down his parents. He soon comes across the mother, a prostitute and porn star named Linda Ash who is sensitive, <more>
quick-witted, very charming and extremely attractive. It is in these scenes that we quickly realize two things: Mira Sorvino is a delightful actress and her casting was a thing of genius, and Woody Allen continues to prove his hold on the title as best comedic screenwriter in American cinema. His dialogue is so clever and quirky, the characters wildly screwball yet utterly charming; he is a one of a kind. He also shows his ability as a director, utilizing these scenes to build on more comedic opportunities as well as show his philosophy of how life often throws unbelievable curveballs.All throughout this delightful story, a Greek chorus pops up routinely to comment and enlarge the story and explain more on what Allen is trying to say. F. Murray Abraham is terrific as the sarcastic leader and the whole chorus has some great lines and the choreography is wonderful. Some will criticize this move, thinking it stops the flow of the film. In terms of Allen's career, I found it refreshing to see that at this point in his career, he found a new way to hook an audience as well as continue to tell an interesting and entertaining story. I also must comment on the final 10 minutes, which is equal parts tragedy, comedy, irony and understanding. Life is a mysterious fig, and Woody Allen knows the best way to understand it is to laugh at its mysteries.
Sportswriter Lenny Weinrib Allen and his wife Bonham-Carter adopt a baby from an anonymous mother. After a few years pass, Lenny starts to wonder about the woman. Curiosity quickly gets the better of him, so he steals files from the adoption agency and sets out to find her. Lenny is dismayed, maybe even terrified, to find that Linda Sorvino, the mother, is a beautiful $200-an-hour prostitute. So that he can fashion the proper mother-son reunion and save himself from what fate seems to have in store, he determines to 'reform' Linda. Interwoven throughout the story is a Greek <more>
chorus including F. Murray Abraham and Olympia Dukakis, who add their own unique take on the proceedings.I've always preferred Woody Allen's comedies over his dramas. This one is probably one of my favorites. This film is a great example of Woody Allen showing no interest in convincing his audience into swallowing down some serious morals. It's light, fluffy, shamelessly sentimental and does not suffer a bit because of it. The plot is generally an uplifting tale of changing ones life for the better, and intertwined with this is some of Woody Allen's best humor. There are many entertaining characters, especially Mira Sorvino's prostitute and Michael Rapaport's dim-witted boxer, Kevin.The stand-out here is Mira Sorvino. She is absolutely enthralling, with her ditsy nature and confidence masking a timid vulnerability, all of which earned her a well deserved Oscar. Linda could have been an over the top, cartoonish character, Pygmalion on crack. But under the careful direction of Allen, Sorvino gives the best performance of her career so far, and one of the funniest performances ever.
Superb balance between sophistication and corn (by ian_harris)
Spike Jones once said that his material was too corny for sophisticated people but too sophisticated for corny people. Woody Allen's material can lend itself to similar critique. Mighty Aphrodite has a superb balance between sophistication and corn.The Greek chorus idea is very well used, both at a sophisticated level - the film is essentially a modernised Greek drama - and at a corn level when the chorus morphed into a more Broadway-style chorus Janie avoided the cheese by going into the kitchen and uncorking the wine . The Greek myth theme is well done throughout - I loved the appeal <more>
to Zeus especially. Also the deus ex machina resolution was terrific fun, although I think not entirely original I believe it was Cocteau who previously used the helicopter as a visual deus ex machina . Fine performances - Mira Sorvino is a super "tart with a heart". Even Helena Bonham Carter is more effectively used in this film than in her standard Merchant Ivory roles, although I thought she lacked chemistry with Woody. Good also to see F Murray Abraham as the leader of the chorus - why do we see so little of him these days?I'm a fan of Woody, but he has been patchy in the last 10 years or so. With this one, he really was in sparkling form. Well worth seeing.
'When you smile ... the world smiles with you' (by danielll_rs)
I can say that "Mighty Aphrodite" is the film that made me really appreciate Woody Allen's films. His direction is great, and so is the screenplay in the majority of his pictures.The story of "Mighty Aphrodite" is magic, light, funny and beautiful. The idea of the Greek chorus is just incredible! All the cast is great, but the best one is really Mira Sorvino. She deserved her Oscar playing Linda Ash, a nice and ingenuous prostitute.So if you like Woody Allen's films, you'll surely love this one like I did.
Very funny and touching tale about damaged people (by Pedro_H)
A childless couple adopt a baby, but the father becomes curious about the real birth mother and decides to trace her.Good to see Allen returning to something like his best, probably because he is returning to his natural home: The light comedy of domestic life and the embarrassing people that we have to deal with.The star turn is Mira Sorvino the natural mother as the tart with a heart an update of the happy hooker? who Allen gets to know by pretending to be a client. Great plot device, which shows what Allen can do when he casts his mind wider than people chatting around restaurant <more>
tables or at parties.Interesting to see how Allen has developed as regards sexual frankness and the use of four letter words. Strangely he is returning to the device of being sexually inept something he had been moving away from to gain extra laughs.For once he gives the best lines to someone else - and in Sorvino we have a great comedienne: A really touching and funny performance. Another Oscar that an actor/actress would never have otherwise got without the magic pen of Woody - no wonder the guy is so loved in the business!Away from the main comedy the thing bumbles along. Wife Helena Boham-Carter is not faithful and they argue a lot. The usual hypocrisies, double standards and manners are displayed for a WA film , but they don't stop the film as they do elsewhere. The Greek chorus asides - are actually fantastically funny and a real piece of comic invention.Thankfully we have a something to do and somewhere to go here, it isn't just people whining about their lives. Allen wants to improve the life of the hooker-come-porn-star and suggests hairdressing and teaming up with a half-wit boxer who he met through his job as a sports writer he thinks she will like. A very entertaining film and it is good to see that Allen can write funny lines for women - which I thought he was incapable of. Recommended.