September (English) (1987): People expect Woody Allen to make funny movies. He is not supposed to make bleak, slow-moving, artsy movies about dysfunctional families, human despondency, gloom, loneliness and the sheer impossibility of finding true love (whatever that might mean). In this film, he's done just that...and more.
Woody Allen shot this movie twice. He had the movie ready when he thought he didn't like the feel of it and decided to re-cast, re-shoot and do everything all over again. The movie is about a woman recuperating after a suicide attempt in a house away from New York City surrounded by her friends and family who have decided to visit for a couple of days.
Entirely devoid of jokes with no respite from bleakness and an all-pervading, suffocating sadness, depressing and extremely brilliant in the same breath, it is another one of Woody Allen's non standard offerings which must be watched to be believed.
Sample from the movie:
"Well, what branch of physics are you involved with?"
"Something much more terrifying than blowing up the planet," Lloyd replies.
"Really? Is there anything more terrifying than the destruction of the world?"
"Yes—the knowledge that it doesn't matter one way or the other. That it's all random. That everything is resonating aimlessly out of nothing, eventually vanishing forever. I'm not talking about the world; I'm talking about the universe. All space, all time—just temporary convulsion. And I get paid to prove it!"
"Do you feel so sure of all of that when you look out on a clear night like tonight and see all those millions of stars? Do you feel that none of it matters?"
"I think it's just as beautiful as you do—and vaguely evocative of some deep truth that always just keeps slipping away. But then my professional perspective overcomes me, and I get a less wishful, more penetrating view of it all. I understand it for what it truly is—haphazard, morally neutral, and unimaginably violent."
Palindromes (English) (2004): I have raved about Todd Solondz before and consider the movie Happiness to be one of the best I've seen. Ever.
And just when you think that things couldn't get any better, he comes over and dazzles you with another absolutely brilliant film.
It is easily the bleakest of all his four movies. It is suffused with some moments of really very subtle and very, very intense dark humour - of the sort that will be really difficult to detect if you're not careful. It also employs a brilliant technique in using multiple actors to play the same character. You see films like this and suspect that one really has to find an inordinate amount of pleasure in the misery and suffering of fellow humans to detect the scope of laughter in such remarkably depressing situations.
All hail the prophet of dark humour!
Highly, highly recommended!