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Mighty Aphrodite 1995
Description: When Lenny and his wife, Amanda, adopt a baby, Lenny realizes that his son is a genius and becomes obsessed with finding the boy's biological mother in hopes that she will be brilliant too. But when he learns that Max's mother is Linda Ash, a kindhearted prostitute and porn star, Lenny is determined to reform her immoral lifestyle. A Greek chorus chimes in to relate the plot to Greek mythology in this quirky comedy.
Released: 10 Nov 1995 Director: Woody Allen Writers: Woody Allen Actors: Pamela Blair, Rene Ceballos, Elie Chaib, George De La Pena Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
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Mighty Aphrodite Reviews:

I can tell that "Mighty Aphrodite" is the movie that made me really appreciate Woody Allen's films. His direction is great, and so is the screenplay in the majority of his pictures.The storyline of "Mighty Aphrodite" is magic, light, funny and beautiful. The concept of the Greek chorus is just incredible! All the cast is great, but the greatest one is really Mira Sorvino. She deserved her Oscar testing Linda Ash, a great and ingenuous prostitute.So if you like Woody Allen's films, you'll surely love this one like I did.


Spike Jones once told that his material was too corny for sophisticated folks but too sophisticated for corny people. Woody Allen's material can lend itself to related critique. Mighty Aphrodite has a magnificent balance between sophistication and corn.The Greek chorus concept is very well used, both at a sophisticated lvl - the movie is essentially a modernised Greek drama - and at a corn lvl (when the chorus morphed into a more Broadway-style chorus Janie avoided the cheese by going into the kitchen and uncorking the wine). The Greek myth theme is well done throughout - I loved the appeal to Zeus especially. Also the deus ex machina resolution was terrific fun, although I think not entirely original (I trust it was Cocteau who previously used the helicopter as a visual deus ex machina). Fine performances - Mira Sorvino is a super "tart with a heart". Even Helena Bonham Carter is more effectively used in this movie than in her standard Merchant Ivory roles, although I thought she lacked chemistry with Woody. Nice also to see F Murray Abraham as the leader of the chorus - why do we see so tiny of him these days?I'm a fanatic of Woody, but he has been patchy in the last 10 years or so. With this one, he really was in sparkling form. Well worth seeing.


Hot on the high-heels of "Showgirls" comes Woody Allen's recent film, "Mighty Aphrodite," called after the Greek goddess of love, other American movie trying to interrogate the questionable mentality and dubious spirituality of the skin trade. A lot will probably be made of the fact that, not pleased with merely pointing out classical references in his text, Allen decided to have a entire Greek Chorus (consisting of F. Murray Abraham, Olympia Dukakis, David Ogden Stiers and Jack Warden) filmed in an ancient outdoor amphitheater in Taormina, Italy (wearing masks, no less, in a nod to classical authenticity) and genuflect on the alter of genuine myth to underscore the tragic and comedic parts of his film. It doesn't matter how well- versed you are in the Greeks, you'll be able to play what Allen has done with his approach, which is a very refreshing concept for movie (bringing it all back home) and also a nice surreal scaffold for the case he presents. Purists be warned. Allen (Now 60 years old, but trying to enjoy his role like he's not a day over 40) and Helena Bonham- Carter (29 years old) are happily married when one day Bonham-Carter's biological clock goes off and she wants to have a baby immediately. Allen hesitates so much at the thought of pregnancy that Bonham- Carter, who really can't wait, says, "fine, let's adopt, then," which of course hits the raw nerve of Allen's masculinity as he defends his genes vs the concept of having someone else's kid join their family.Allen's hero in this movie is a sportswriter, adding other "tough" layer to his never-ending quiche of a meditation/angst-ridden find for definitive masculinity. Each stage where Allen suffers some sort of gender-related torment is set in a male arena: When he's fighting on the smartphone with Bonham-Carter about the decision to adopt, the backdrop is a boxing club with each ring filled with sparring partners. Other stage where he contemplates his case shows him pacing back and forth on the sidelines watching the Fresh York Giants scrimmage in the Meadowlands.The couple finally decide to adopt a boy, and in one stage in particular I realized just how much Allen is stuck in a zeitgeist rut. In their uptown apartment Allen and Bonham-Carter bandy names back and forth for the fresh tiny tike as Allen, forever the cultural namedropper, comes up with the monikers of all of his heroes: Django, Groucho, Thelonius. Bonham-Carter is oblivious to his recommendations as she coddles the baby and suddenly you realize that Allen could have made this movie years ago, because the conversation sounds like something that was written for what would have been the sequel to "Annie Hall." Actually that he's twenty years removed from the carefree days of dynamic dialogue with Diane Keaton and the spark she brought as Allen's main female foil, Bonham-Carter seems unsure of herself, treating Allen as obligatorily as a father or uncle rather than her husband. Enter the plot.Bonham-Carter is being chased by Peter Weller (48 years old), a seductively sleazy art gallery owner, which sends Allen's mid-life crisis into an absolute tailspin as he starts wondering if he's really satisfied with his wife, and as he's looking at his newly adopted "son" he wonders aloud what the mother of his adopted kid is like. Enter Cassandra and...you receive the picture.One of the things I realized while watching "Mighty Aphrodite" is that Allen has spent a nice portion of his career in movie flagellating himself for not being the American Ingmar Bergman, when all the time he could have been luxuriating in the fact that he's the American Federico Fellini: He has an uncanny sense for seeking out ripe minor actors, ready to be picked, and then letting them search the aspect of the hero they're testing that makes them Characters rather than just parts played by actors. Even though I feel as if Bonham-Carter is not given nearly enough room to totally flesh out her hero (which is a shame for an actress of her caliber), the movie is really about Linda, the true mother of Allen and Bonham-Carter's adopted child, who turns out to be a ditzy porn star overflowing with spunk and zeal.Linda, played by Mira Sorvino (Quiz Show, Barcelona), Paul Sorvino's daughter, steals the film. Allen has tempted fate and defied the Greek Chorus' warnings by seeking out Linda, but since she's in the skin trade he arranges to meet her at her apartment in the guise of being merely a "john." When Allen's reticence at wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am sex gets the better of him, he finally shows the age and mindset that he really is and turns into a grandfather before your very eyes.But, Linda is a ditz first and a hooker second in that she understands her victimization but also starts to realize that her case is only as hopeless as her innate tenacity is boundless. In the most delicate stage in the film, and maybe the most poignant stage I've seen all year, Sorvino is in her bathtub-sized kitchen trying to defend her life to Allen, and as she keeps talking she realizes her own complicity until she finally mentions that she even had a baby once that she gave up for adoption. Allen gives her this stage by not entering the frame for what seems like a full minute. The direction in this stage alone, in Linda's chessily decorated flat finished with clocks of pigs in heat, shows just how gifted Allen is at being able to take an obscure actress, give her a two-dimensional role and have her search the heart and soul of the movie on her own.Leave it to Woody Allen to deliver a movie that is fascinating on many lvls and is as beautifully structured as anything you're likely to see all year. I don't trust it's Greatest Picture material, but it does present a very powerful return to form for Allen, no matter how unsure he is of reentering the fight between the sexes.



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