A post-length digression in response to a stray exchange in that Harris Savides interview I posted about earlier today has the expert cinematographer observing that “the thing that I notice Woody Allen does a lot is he likes to start on a wide shot and have that somehow turn into a two-shot [without cutting].”
To which interviewer David Schwartz asks, “Woody Allen now, or from the [cinematographer] Gordon Willis period?”
Savides: The earlier Woody Allen. But I worked with him recently on Whatever Works, and he would’ve liked to have been able to do that. But there were circumstances beyond our control. I know he wanted to try to do that. Like have them come in, we see the room and we understand where we are, and then they end up talking, two-shot. Which Bergman does, too.
Schwartz: But he was not able to do it as much as he wanted or—?
Savides: Sometimes there are performance issues that you must cut around.
Juicy! A blind, item, almost: “WHOSE shitty performance did Woody Allen have to cut around in Whatever Works?” Except…
Mostly I’m just incredulous. Because, see, I can’t remember a recent movie that has seemed to be more exclusively comprised of one-and-done long takes. Woody and Savides did some nicely mobile work, and it is often a very good idea to have the actors in the same frame as one another, but the long takes in Whatever Works, as I sorta said at the time, mostly felt indifferent, like the long takes were just the quickest way to get all the coverage in the can. Based upon what performances did make it onscreen, like Evan Rachel Wood’s bizarre accent and too-skimpy pajamas (just appallingly casual; come on Woody, put her together for a close-up!), Whatever Works felt pretty indifferent to performance.
But I concede I may have missed some cutting. Perhaps Larry David just wasn’t comfortable up there (he didn’t seem comfortable up there), with all the overformal kvetching the script fed him? Woody is notoriously finicky about performances—reshoots of September turned into a recasting, rewriting, and basically an entirely new movie—which maybe is just a function of how hard it must be to find someone who can seem natural while reciting the dialogue Woody’s been writing lately.
Anyway. Thought that was interesting.