If you too miss Woody Allen and the traditional end-of-year appointment with his films, waiting for Rifkin’s Festival you should recover Crisis in six scenes, the miniseries created by the director for Amazon Prime Video.
It already happened in 2018, when A rainy day in New York (masterpiece, and don’t believe anyone who says otherwise) was not distributed by Amazon because of the attacks on its author that came from clan Farrow, and to see it we had to wait until November 2019, when it came out in Italy thanks to Lucky Red.
And this year we are there again. This time the fault lies with the pandemic, but the result is the same: we will skip the traditional annual appointment with a Woody Allen. Rifkin’s Festival was to be released on November 5 with Vision, then the cinemas were closed again (while it is not known why a lot of other places remain open), and therefore we were again without the seasonal dose of Allen’s drug.
For heaven’s sake, it gets worse, in the current times.
But for us Woody fans it is yet another little, big bad luck in these already rather difficult months. Also because, in the current times, the risk is that really Allen, as stated in the past, may he stop making films and delight us with his genius.
What to do then, besides arming ourselves with patience and waiting for it Rifkin’s Festival can come out in theaters?
Review the many movies that Allen he shot over the course of a forty-year career, sure. Read or reread his recent autobiography, entitled “About nothing”.
Or, a more unusual choice, if you like, go and recover Crisis in six scenes, the miniseries written, directed and performed by Allen per Amazon, in the auroral phase of the agreement between the director and the production division of Jeff Besoz’s company, which you find available in streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and perhaps it didn’t get the attention it deserved.
Crisis in six scenes: the plot
In Crisis in six scenes (consisting of six episodes of about twenty minutes each, for a total viewing of about two hours: really almost like a film divided into episodes) Woody Allen plays the role of Sidney Munsinger, copywriter of commercials, author of sitcoms and novelist with the pen name of S.J. Munsinger. In 1960s America, crisscrossed by protest and counterculture, and shaken by the Vietnam War, Allen’s Sidney lives a placidly bourgeois life in the beautiful house just outside New York where he lives with his wife Kay (a legend of Amerian comedy such as Elaine May) and where the son of a close friend, Allen (John Magaro), who is about to marry the beautiful Ellie (Rachel Brosnahan, pre-Mrs. Maisel).
His few concerns are related to the haircut, the series he wants to place in a network, and his hypochondria, the perfect coaching character he is. And all this is destined to change radically when the Munsinger house breaks into – literally – the young Lennie Dale (Miley Cyrus, just her, not a homonymous one), a young revolutionary bomber escaped from prison and in search of safe refuge before attempting to leave for Cuba.
It goes without saying that Sidney is not at all happy with the arrival of Lennie, who chose the Munsinger house because Kay was a friend of her mother and has known her since she was a child: first because someone like him does not want to have problems with the law, second because Lennie has an insatiable appetite and eats all his favorite food. And then Lennie, also neurotic, in her own way, but charismatic, seems to push the whole family to radicalism: from his wife Kay, who begins to offer the ladies of his book club books on Marx, urban warfare and the red book of Mao, to young Allen, who is infatuated with Lennie and his political passion and seems to want to throw away his marriage plans with Ellie.
A return to the origins
Many of you may have done so, but there is little to be surprised that even Woody Allen has given himself to TV series. TV was a huge part of Allen’s career before he became a film director. And, look, Allen’s work as an author of sketches and television series took place in the same years in which it is set Crisis in six scenes. The same, too, in which Elaine May he worked in tandem with Mike Nichols, and the three dated and esteemed each other.
Per Allen the miniseries is therefore a return to the past, to the origins of his work, but with all the awareness of the present and the many years of experience gained. The structure is that of a sit-com, the humor also: there is practically nothing more dramatic and philosophical than Allen, but all the comic Allen, of a comedy that is not only that of jokes and dialogues ( which would still be the envy of many younger and more rampant screenwriters) but which, episode after episode, also becomes physical, and linked to spaces, situations, misunderstandings.
Senile? Maybe, but knowingly
Of course, it must be admitted that in the face of Crisis in six scenes, a certain senility is perceived. Also because, both on his part and on May’s part, and other characters, the seniority of the characters – physical and mental – is clearly displayed, and serves as a contrast to Lennie’s youthful and political neuroses.
But it is, in fact, a conscious senility, managed and controlled by Allen, which seems to want to reflect it also in the autumn setting of the story, which also infects the colors and rhythms of the staging. Even in his staging as an actor, which is what here Allen he did for the last time, it seems evident the desire to represent his old age, his feeling more and more out of sync with the times in which he lives: in which Sidney lives in the series, and in which he lives in our present. And, at the same time, his ability to keep up thanks to his intelligence and his wit.
It’s never too late
Crisis in six scenes it is not Manhattan, it is not Crimes and misdeeds and it is not A rainy day in New York. It is not Mrs. Maisel neither Fleabag, just to stay in the context of television series comedy. With its démodé trend, which more than purely theatrical is precisely that of the series of the past, it is clearly the entertainment of an inexhaustible author who, between Café Society e The wheel of wonders, he wanted to try his hand at a narrative format that he hadn’t frequented for years, managing to infuse it with all his comic talent on the one hand (because at times it makes a lot of laugh, and the tone is always delightfully funny) and his intelligence. Intelligence that manifests itself discreetly in tones and nuances, and which performs more brazenly in the finish. Only Allen, in fact, could close such an autumnal tale by making sure that, with hope towards the future and self-irony together, his Sidney is convinced that it is never too late, and that he still has the time and the desire to try. to approach S.J. Munsinger to its myth J.D. Salinger, letting go of that nonsense of the television series.