Woody reveals his favourite Russian authors.
- Love and Death review by Steve
Love and Death was a slight backward step after Sleeper, being episodic and a little erratic. But it's still funny and terrifically entertaining, and benefitted from the photography of Ghislain Cloquet (who would win an Oscar for Tess) and music from Prokofiev.
It is a satire inspired by the giants of Russian literature, particularly Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov but visually this is very much a comic tribute to Ingmar Bergman (which he makes explicit at the end when he melts a face and a profile into one image like in Persona.
Woody and Diane Keaton suffer famine and existential trauma, fight a duel and plan to assassinate Napoleon. It's a series of sketches, and some hit and some don't, but the two leads make it fun. They were the great comedy stars of the seventies.
This film lies at the extreme of Woody's habit of parodying East Coast intellectualism and then puncturing its pretentiousness with a low joke. There is a lot of this in Love and Death and periodic discussions of philosophy and the absurdity of Being in an indifferent cosmos: 'All men go eventually, but I go six o'clock tomorrow morning. I was supposed to go at five o'clock but I have a smart lawyer.' So Woody gets to look clever and funny. And to be fair, there are a lot of great jokes in there.
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