Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 332: Radio Days (1987) - Rank 4/5


A nice little slice of nostalgia compliments of Woody Allen. The film is absent of both his zany rigmarole that is guides films like "Sleeper" or "Love and Death," as well as the self-deprecation or angst that works its way into many of his films, from "Annie Hall" to "Crimes and Misdemeanors." "Radio Days" plays out like a series of vignettes, changing as often as, appropriately enough, the programming on a radio station. Allen is never present in his film, but he serves as the narrator. As he reminisces about his youth, we're treated to a series of anecdotes that helped shape who he became. The central force tying all of these stories together (and quite often instigating them) is the radio. From his family playing along with "Guess that Tune" to an interrupted first date as a result of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast, the gossip, shows and songs of the radio influence all around him.

A pleasant aspect to the film is it's lack of any message, save perhaps a mild theme about how we are products of our environments. No social commentary on introversion, infidelity or inadequacy - just fun. To put it simply, of all of Woody's films, this by far feels like his most honest and heartfelt piece, and naturally so, for we're watching his childhood. It's akin to George Lucas' "American Graffiti" or Richard Linkletter's "Dazed and Confused." They're taking advantage of the medium they work in to share their youth with us. Some might view that as egocentric, but I love these films because you're absolutely immersed in a time and culture long gone. The costumes, the music, the morals...they're all there, and the screen is so saturated with the sentiment of an auteur that it's hard to not wax nostalgic about your own childhood upon leaving the cinema.

Watch the Trailer

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