I love Twitter hashtags. This title comes from one a couple of days ago:  CakeFilms. I was like a kid in a candy (well, cupcake more aptly) store and had to make myself stop.

My favorite I came up with was “You Will Eat a Tall Dark Stranger’s Cake”. As a byproduct of my tangenty way of thinking, it reminded me that I hadn’t watched “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”, though I’ve had the DVD for some time. So during a morning spot of insomnia, I rectified that.

After a long ago Woody Allen phase, during which I devoured a bunch
of his greats (“Radio Days”,”Manhattan”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, and my favorite of course “The Purple Rose of Cairo”) and loved them, I hadn’t watched any in years.

“Stranger” was actually for my shelves busting Anthony Hopkins collection. Though I always love his work, I couldn’t really like his Alfie in this. Not while I was itching to thwack him upside the head for being such an idiot! Of course I enjoyed watching a masterful actor work his chameleonlike magic. That was the trouble with Alfie, though. He was so well-written and acted that he was simply exasperating.

The movie in general was like an irony tolerance experiment to the point that keeping up made my brain hurt. So much misplaced longing and heartbreak raced along at surprisingly breakneck speed that watching was a kaleidoscopic experience, with the little pieces of colored glass replaced by little pieces of broken hearts.

I do not like occult heavy stories,even when there are moments of real humor and it’s by Woody Allen. Ditto on sometimes crass, often over the top sexual themes…ditto on the moments of real humor and the Woody Allen factor. So this is probably seeming to wind its way toward a negative reaction. In fact I pretty much thought it was right after watching.

But it’s not. The more I’ve thought about it the more the way it positively reeks of massive overdoses of irony appeals to me. I’m a big fan of making characters suffer, then springing a huge payoff of some kind after the audience has been lulled into a state of unsuspecting near stupor.

So almost all the characters get what they deserve in one way or another. An Armageddonlike storm of just desserts, poetic justice, and downright you reap what you sew…in spades. Except. Except for Alfie’s daffy ex, Helena. She grabs the brass ring, in the form of an  elusive Woody Allen happy ending.

So. In spite of there being multiple things about “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” that should have held it firmly in don’t really like it land…I kind of do. And even though I couldn’t wrap my head around a way to like poor old Alfie, it was a joy to watch my favorite actor play so far afield from Hannibal Lecter. Seeing the face of said Hannibal Lecter as such a believable milquetoast…priceless.

It’s actually the first Woody Allen movie I’ve watched since I started writing screenplays, and I realize I need to go back and rewatch my old favorites, with an eye toward learning from them. The man is a genius, and I am a spongey brain, ready to soak up the irony, the misery, and the sometimes happy goodness.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Trailer