I finally watched Woody Allen’s last masterpiece. Yes, I’ll call it a masterpiece. He’s a genius of epic proportions. Regardless of his level of innocence or guilt in life he’s an important artist. There’s a line you don’t cross in art and once you cross that line it’s almost always lesser art anyway in my opinion but I don’t think Woody Allen ever crosses it. If he’s a pervert personally his art rarely if ever edges truly close to disclosing that, in my opinion, despite what some might claim otherwise. There are lots of May-December romances, for example, in his work but none of them feel or look that perverted if they even are at all. Sometimes older men do find themselves in love with young women who love them back. Not children or teens. Not “dirty old men”. Not etc. Instead, just two actual adults who are separated by a decade or more and are actually in love…
I loved “A Rainy Day In New York”. Woody Allen’s later work is my favorite in general though… It didn’t feel trite or boring or blah to me at all. Actually, I thought it was more eerie and sad. More or less a goodbye and a very demure but sincerely curious search of the afterlife… A search to find the frayed edges of art, life and society in hopes that they might point to the existence of a real God or a real afterlife for that matter… It was subversive and complex. Subtle, self-aware and ultimately self-deprecating. *smile*. Brilliant and meant to be cherished either way.
The scene by the Metropolitan Museum of Art was wonderful and particularly caught my attention. In the exact same spot captured toward the middle/end of the film where you walk up and down the steps into and out of the museum I got the most eerie feeling years ago when I visited the city. It was actually very unpleasant. It felt like death. Like someone else’s death. So powerful and with so much evil it felt like it threatened to swallow me up in that moment out of the physical, possibly killing me too. It really was not nice. But I kept walking and never said a word about it until right now actually. And once I was inside the museum I felt fine, of course. I felt better than fine the deeper into the museum I walked. Museums have always felt like that for me though. Like safe havens.
Anyway….in the film that spot felt eerie too. By the steps. The first view in that spot (going up the stairs) was the same view as the one I experienced that day in the spring in the early 2000’s – slightly to the right of the entrance. And, it was at that moment in the film that I sat in awe at the amazingly intricate genius that is “A Rainy Day In New York”. Really. It’s all so subtle.
Of course the fact that I’ve had the oddest memories come back to me this year about that one time I visited New York City helps me appreciate the film. New York is Woody Allen’s favorite muse and star (who hasn’t said that?). …And the fact that I ended that visit by feeling extremely physically uneasy (I almost felt like I was losing my mind and I also felt a weirdly faint sinking feeling combined with what felt like irregular heartbeats) and had odd flashes in what I thought was my imagination of a young man who almost felt like he was actually there walking along with us students right next to me, aggressively following me, trying to talk to me (almost yelling), also helps me appreciate the mood of what is probably Woody Allen’s last film. ? Or maybe not. But I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s retired now.
They say Las Vegas keeps its secrets, but so does New York. It’s just that New York is nurturing. It tries to explain itself to you slowly if you listen. It wants you to understand or if it doesn’t maybe you don’t need or want to know the truth. There’s a lot to tell I’m sure and it’s far from trite or cliché.
They say the city has been ruined by the 1%. Someday when Covid 19 is controlled I’ll try to visit again very carefully. After that visit I’ll rewatch “A Rainy Day In New York” and if I like it as much then as I do now it’s underrated.