This article appeared in the Sunday edition of Die Welt on November 28. Woody Allen lies on an anylyst's couch complaining about his girlfriend, played by Diane Keaton--from the movie Annie Hall. This scene is actually filmed split-screen, with Keaton complaining to her psychiatrist about Allen. In Germany, Annie Hall was released under the title Der Stadtneurotiker, or "The Urban Neurotic." The way the film plays out, the neurotic could be either of them, if not both.

The remarkable article talks about how much psychiatric intervention has appeared in feature films. I can think of several right away: Spellbound, starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman, directed by Alfred Hitchcock; The Seventh Veil starring Ann Todd and James Mason, directed by Compton Bennett, and the ultimate psychological classic Persona, starring Liv Ullmann and directed by her lover, Ingmar Bergman.

I include a two-minute YouTube video of Annie Hall to show my readers its humor and inventiveness. Allen inserts himself into a fantasy about his own childhood. His classmates make predictions about their own lives that are sort of unsettling, but also visually stunning.

But I don't recommend sitting through all 93 minutes of it. The main characters say their lines with no particular involvement. You can be neurotic and still have passion. The characters appear to talk at each other, rather than to each other. Most of all, their interactions lack urgency and an intimate level of involvement.

I once had a girlfriend (live-in) who became disoriented in the dark. In the middle of the night, she would switch on the light beside the bed, looking startled. If I climbed out of bed, she would grasp my arm with an unsettling whimper, still sound asleep. I don't see that kind of insecurity in Annie Hall. I can't see an intimate aura to the characters' relations.



September 30, 2022

Rolexes and Wealth

I remember the day my eighth-grade teacher arrived at school wearing his new wrist-watch. We saw this guy for the 180 days of the school-year and knew him pretty well--as well as anyone did. We noticed that, among his other mannerisms, he tended to look often at the watch during class. We thought he was keen to know the time on a regular basis. Now, I believe he was just admiring his new watch.

September 28, 2022

Family-life is not a Democracy

I ran into a problem yesterday when I returned to Germany. On my first evening, I wanted to slake my thirst for German beer, big-time! So I ordered a liter-serving right off the bat; but I knew I also wanted some wine and ordered a carafe of it, as well. Shamefully, I have to admit to not finishing either. I slaked my thirst, but had to leave some of it undrunk. I hate wasting anything, but I had work to do and wanted to operate on all my cylinders.

September 24, 2022

Violence in the Real

This article appeared last July in the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, by the newspaper's expert on hip-hop music, Florentin Schuhmacher. He regards gangsta-rap, and its sub-genre Drill, as a legitimate art-form. He can understand the reservations that law enforcement, parents, and teachers have toward music that glorifies gang-life, describes the rush of killing one's enemies, the pleasure of drugs—as a source of wealth—and demeaning women; but Schumacher also says the police cannot simply censor it. They must distinguish between art and criminal acts, shooings, and robberies.

Lloyd Bowers


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