Friday, August 24, 2012

Who is Woody Allen's Heir Apparent?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 12:10 PM

I dont want to become immortal through my work, I want to become immortal by not dying.
  • I don't want to become immortal through my work, I want to become immortal by not dying."

In her review of Julie Delpy's new film 2 Days In New York Vulture writer Bilge Ebiri makes the following case: "Trading Woody to Team Europe might not turn out to be such a bad deal for us if Team New York gets to keep Julie Delpy. The French actress’s follow-up to 2007’s 2 Days in Paris — turns out to be an assured, sensitive, and occasionally very funny relationship comedy that, much like Allen at his best, takes sharply drawn and recognizable characters and stretches them until something fascinating emerges."

The assertion got us thinking—even as Woody Allen himself continues to defy expectations by not only maintain his prolific output of a film per year, but by also generating some of the best box office returns of his career—who is the heir apparent to Woody Allen?

In addition to Delpy (who is apparently keen to cast Woody Allen in Virgo, her next film), we've spotted a few contenders emerging, a few from the ranks of comedy, others whose writing is influenced by Allen and elsewhere.

Most notably, stand-up comic turned auteur Louis CK, whose FX program "Louie" showcases the comic's idiosyncratic obsessions, against an increasingly surreal New York backdrop. (The show's action is as apt to drift into Fellini-esque cul de sac, as it is to play a scene out to its logical comclusion.) It turns out that not only is Allen himself a fan of CK's program (a fan letter from the auteur hangs on CK's office wall), but he cast CK in his latest film. CK's fascination with Allen has also manifested itself in crew choices. Just as Allen, who worshipped Bergman, hired Bergman's DP Sven Nykvist to shoot Another Woman and Crimes and Misdemeanors, CK has hired Allen's sometime editor Susan E. Morse who edited every Allen film between 1977 and 1998. It will be especially interesting to see how his time on Allen's set impacts CK's future projects.

Sleepwalk With Me, a cinematic adaptation of comic and spoken-word performer Mike Birbiglia's one-man-show, which had segments featured on Ira Glass' PRI program "This American Life." (Glass also produced the film.)

This short, to promote the film, featuring Birbilia and Glass is reminiscent of something Allen's early, funny films. Watching two intellectuals in old timey usher outfits is like something out of Love and Death or Sleeper.

The film itself deals with the life of a comic in a deeply personal, and highly accomplished fashion. The project announces the arrival of a major new talent. Whereas CK's show itself is enamored of ideas and style, Birbiglia (perhaps thanks to the influence of Ira Glass) focuses on story.

Woody and Zoe

The dark horse here is Zoe Kazan, whose screenplay for Ruby Sparks, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris the team behind Little Miss Sunshine. The granddaughter of director Elia Kazan, Zoe is heretofore best known as an actress in such films as The Savages, Me & Orson Welles, and Meek's Cutoff. She stars as the eponymous Sparks, a fictional character brought to life at the whim of an author. It's the type of Pirandellian concept that appears throughtout Allen's work, from Play It Again, Sam and Purple Rose of Cairo to Deconstructing Harry and To Rome With Love.

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