Wagner and Allen Should share a Drink and Retire

Recently, I’ve watched both Warchild and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I wasn’t a tremendous fan of either film, which is interesting as they are completely different films from one another with Christian Wagner directing the first and Woody Allen directing the second. The first is about a Bosnian woman searching for her child that was lost in the war. The second is about two over-privileged girls going to Barcelona for a summer. Obviously, they’re nothing alike, yet at the same time, they are.
These two films are made by two directors who are so pompous as to think that they can make a film about anything in any place because they are simply such amazing talents. Woody Allen, at his core, repulses me. I really don’t like his films and I like him even less with his being in the Top Ten of my, To Punch List. This is not an uncommon view in the US, but it is ironic in how he is always insecure and needs to have a narrator in his films doing some form of voice over lest the audience not understand something, (which in this case nearly made me walk out of the theater in the first five minutes as it’s so pedantic) but yet he figures that he can portray Spaniards without any problem despite being from New York and Jewish. It’s true that he manages to depict the American expats well. But really, they’re not hard to portray if one is an American. When it comes to the Spaniards though, they’re moody, excitable, passionate, guitar-playing, flamenco-dancing, wine drinkers that they are in any film where the Spaniards are stereotyped. The only saving grace is, minus a few out of focus shots, Barcelona is shown as a lovely town, although this is not hard to do.
The script is your typical Allen shtick, but out of the morass of blathering lines that make up this film, my favorite is when Rebecca Hall’s character says that she is in Barcelona to study, “Catalan Identity”. It has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve heard someone on the screen say lately and it’s so bad that I almost wonder if it was meant as an intentional joke, in which case it was too subtle as I was only one of two people laughing at that.
But where Allen shows that he is a fish out of water, Wagner shows that he is a blatantly repulsive, stereotypical, ignorant German with his film. For some god-forsaken reason, the man has decided to create a trilogy of films about the Balkans and by Balkans, I mean, former-Yugoslavia, not all of the Balkan Peninsula, although people use the term wrong often. After watching Warchild at the Roxie, I wish the man would be stopped before finishing his trilogy. He has no clue about his subject matter. There are no American expats to cover up his ignorance like Allen had. I mean, for starters, he casts a Macedonian to play a Bosnian women and it shows. Her accent is wrong as she couldn’t speak Bosnian before the filming. He was present for the screening and afterward I asked him why he cast a non-Bosnian woman (the actress’s name is not Bosnian as well) to which he replied, “Well, it’s a small country. It’s hard to find qualified actors there.” Huh, interesting. So, I guess none of the actresses: here, here, or here are working? I mean, he could have even cast a Serb or a Croat and it would have been less offensive. Then he goes on to wonder why this film about Bosnia with a Macedonian lead got a cold reception when it screened in Belgrade? It was also annoying to listen to him talk about how “hot tempered” the Bosnian crew were. For anyone who actually understands the region, it’s a welcome change to the repression of the Germans and again. But it makes me wonder as to how someone working on a set of films about the former Yugoslavia be so out of touch in understanding how people interact?
I was meaning to write about Wagner and Warchild for some time, but Allen and Vicky Cristina Barcelona reminded me how bothered I am by this type of director. Not everyone is the Cohen Brothers who can jump from genre to genre with delicate genius, although if you look at everything those two have done, you will see that it’s all based in the US (with the exception of the short film in, Paris, je t’aime). They work with what they know and they succeed. Wagner and Allen are stretching themselves too thin and are far too arrogant to do the work necessary to make their films believable, which is what ultimately leads to their failures as cinematic works in my opinion.
Wagner and Allen Should share a Drink and Retire

3 Replies to “Wagner and Allen Should share a Drink and Retire”

  1. Yeah, our non-theatrical release Dying in Your Sleep is way, way better Mike. lol ;-))

    1. Allen managed to make a very good movie set in London, outside of his usual NY habitat. And I don’t think you have seen any other Wagner films.
      I think that what really bothers you is not so much their style or pompousness, but the stereotyping which I agree is annoying. Unfortunately that’s not unusual of filmmakers filming in a country that is not theirs…

    2. Well, in the case of Allen, it is his style as well as arrogance mixed in with the stereotypes that is annoying. As far as Wagner, it is true that I haven’t seen his other films, but given the fact he’s using the Labina Mitevska again, in the third film in the series, it appears that he really just doesn’t get it.

      John, it’s true that I’ve never properly released a film, but once one does, it is open for criticism. And for the last time, my name isn’t Mike.

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