Woody Allen takes aim at the film industry in his new comedy in which writer/director Allen also stars as a once-great movie director trying to make a comeback. Alan Silverman has a look at Hollywood Ending
Hollywood Ending begins with director Val Waxman clinging desperately to the remains of his career. Once the toast of Hollywood, the only work he can get is directing TV commercials.
But Val's ex-wife, who left him for a handsome young studio executive, believes he is the right director for a big new picture; and to look out for the studio's interest, she's on hand as producer.
Then, just as shooting is about to start, Val has a setback. Suddenly struck by psychosomatic or "hysterical" blindness, Val turns to his loyal agent for help. As he does with all his movies, Woody Allen insists Hollywood Ending is n-o-t autobiographical, although he admits it does include situations with which he's very familiar.
"I just wanted it to be one of those domestic hostility movies and everything just flowed from that," he explains. "As I made him more neurotic and more hypochondriacal, the various developments just grew out of it. I'm much more stable than that character. I've never been fired or sued for not completing a picture," he adds. " I don't wait for the 'right light' or I won't shoot at all; and I'm not really a hypochondriac. I have a lot of problems, but that's not one of them. But I was able to call on a lot of things I knew because I direct films to make it sound real. "
The film gleefully skewers Hollywood stereotypes, but Allen says he is n-o-t 'biting the hand that feeds him."
"This is not a hand that has ever fed me. I've always been in New York and always been apart from that system," he notes. "Even when I worked for a big company like United Artists, I was always treated in a completely different way; and they deserve to be satirized. From my point of view, it's fairly gentle. I could see someone come along and do a scathing satire on what goes on in studio productions. You know, the waste, corruption, Phillistine attitude and the sense of every motivation is strictly for maximum profit and the trampling down of artists. I was trying to make a funny movie about a domestic situation and a guy that goes blind, but if you wanted to really make it about the studio system of making films, you could really be much more pointed than I was."
Hollywood Ending also features Tea Leoni, Debra Messing and George Hamilton; and in a Woody Allen trademark, the soundtrack is filled with vintage jazz and film music.