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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deconstructing Woody...
In my opinion, this is Allen's best film of the 1990s. It has all the wit of Bananas and Sleeper, all the magic of Manhattan and Annie Hall, but it also has something else. It stands out as one of Allen's most unique films.
Deconstructing Harry tells the story of Harry Block, a novelist, whose stories are derived from personal experience. His characters are...
Published on 18 Jan. 2005 by L. Wilkinson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Woody
Almost nothing really works in this ragged, starry, but well below-par Woody Allen film from 1997.
Actors are wasted in tiny roles - such as Tobey MaGuire, Robin Williams and Mariel Hemingway - and others seem under-directed - for example, Judy Davis in a virtually impossible role that, for once in this great actress`s otherwise flawless career, floors her...
Published 8 months ago by GlynLuke


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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deconstructing Woody..., 18 Jan. 2005
By 
L. Wilkinson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
In my opinion, this is Allen's best film of the 1990s. It has all the wit of Bananas and Sleeper, all the magic of Manhattan and Annie Hall, but it also has something else. It stands out as one of Allen's most unique films.
Deconstructing Harry tells the story of Harry Block, a novelist, whose stories are derived from personal experience. His characters are reimaginings of his friends and family. A recipe for disaster. When reality catches up with Harry, the line between his life and his fiction completely blurs (literally, in one particular case, featuring the brilliant Robin Williams.)
The way that this film is shot is particularly interesting. Allen rejects the usual film editing in favour of clipped scenes that often do not fully conclude. The jerkiness of the film itself reflects the ever changing and irratic nature of Harry Block's life.
The film also acts as a compendium of short stories. Harry Block's stories are often told throughout the film, with cameos from the likes of Demi Moore, Robin Williams and Tobey McGuire. There's also appearances by Kirstie Alley, Marial Hemingway (Manhattan) and the wonderful Elisabeth Shue.
This film is great for any kind of Woody Allen fan - whether you want Annie Hall or Sleeper. And it's also perfect for those who love comedy and well made films with a twist.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 28 July 2008
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This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
I have been a long time Woody Allen fan but had never seen this film before. I have recently been re-watching most of his films and I think this stands amongst the very best..
The structure of the film is very clever and adds interest and variety to what is a very funny story. The casting is superb and Allen is brilliant as Harry. If you have a problem with profanity(extreme), you will probably have issues with this film, but I absolutely loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Woody, 2 July 2014
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Almost nothing really works in this ragged, starry, but well below-par Woody Allen film from 1997.
Actors are wasted in tiny roles - such as Tobey MaGuire, Robin Williams and Mariel Hemingway - and others seem under-directed - for example, Judy Davis in a virtually impossible role that, for once in this great actress`s otherwise flawless career, floors her.
Allen makes little attempt at a character, letting f-words etc (to which I do not object per se) 'do the talking' and the rage towards him shown by many of the other characters do the explaining.
Why this has been singled out as one of his best films of the nineties is beyond me. (Film critic David Thomson, a man whose opinion I tend to respect, thinks it`s one of his four best films!) It`s self-indulgent, even for Woody, a director whose work I usually enjoy, and who has made two of my favourite films, The Purple Rose Of Cairo and, especially, the wonderful Radio Days.
Good to see Kirstie Alley, but she sounds like she`s about to burst a blood vessel.
Elizabeth Shue is excellent as usual, and Richard Benjamin makes a rare but welcome appearance in front of the camera for a change.
But the film, with its irritating jump cuts, is a bit of a mess. Allen doesn`t find the right way to tell the story, hopping about all over the place, allowing the other actors to do all the donkey work, so to speak, while we take it on trust that his Harry Block (ho-ho!) is a successful writer whose love life is in free fall.
He really should have only directed this one, and got someone else to play the lead,
an actor who could have gone to town with the central role, finding the nuances that are forever beyond Allen as an actor.
The cast come and go, often with a mere few lines to establish character, and when Judy Davis and Amy Irving can`t make a scene work, you know something`s wrong. What`s wrong is Woody`s lack of direction, in more senses than one.
There are of course things to enjoy, and one or two lines made me laugh out loud, such as the gag about running for offiice in France (the best line in the film?) and there are moments which hit home. Otherwise, for me it was one of this often exasperating director`s least successful films.
If you want one that really hangs together, try Radio Days, The Purple Rose Of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah And Her Sisters, Blue Jasmine, or even the fluffy Midnight in Paris. But even lesser films such as Melinda & Melinda, Mighty Aphrodite, or the overrated but nicely directed Vicky Cristina Barcelona have a flow and sense of pace that elude Woody here.
A disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stardust Memories revisited 17 years on, 19 July 2013
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This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Deconstructing Harry (1997) finds Woody Allen on top form. It may seem to be a mere rehash of Stardust Memories with a similar story of an artist being celebrated (this time a writer being honored by the university that expelled him 'for giving the Dean's wife an enema') told within a free-form fantasy structure again openly stolen from Fellini's 8 1/2. Through his alter-ego Harry, Woody once more explores his mid-life angst - his ex-wives, girlfriends and friends, all of whom he has exploited as subjects for his writing and who hate him for it. However, Woody 1997 is very different from the 1980 vintage. In 1980 his alter-ego Sandy Bates was still young, relatively innocent and at base lovable with the women in his life treated with a modicum of respect. By 1997 Sandy reincarnated as Harry had become a venal, sex-crazed, unfaithful, pill-popping, alcoholic, whore-mongering, lying, cynical, cussing, conniving, soul-less old lech. After his very public separation and custody battles with Mia Farrow in which we learned unsavorary truths about both of them, this is the film where Woody attempts to exorcise his inner demons. The result is rather like Woody nailing himself to his psychoanalyst's couch for everyone to gawk and jeer at. Initially, the film does seem masochistic and riddled with self-hate. However, as Harry drives up-state with son, best friend and hooker for company, the film evolves into a hilarious ride through his familiar neuroses, only this time with sharper cynical venom. The honesty is commendable and comes wrapped in a rich carpet of funny situations and jokes which are as sharp and as cutting about the human condition as ever.

The film comes with an 18 certificate which is a first for Woody. This means we get lots of new effing and blinding, sick jokes, a sex scene or two and even some discreet nudity. We also have his first significant black character. All of this is refreshing, especially as the fantasies and jokes are played out by a stellar cast including Kirstie Alley, Billy Crystal, Judy Davis, Mariel Hemingway, Tobey Maguire, Elisabeth Shue, Demi Moore and even Robin Williams who draws maybe the biggest laugh of all playing a blur. The stars don't just drop in and say 'hi!' like they do in Shadows and Fog (one of Woody's worst) - they are superbly integrated into a wonderfully pithy script as either real people in Harry's life, or as characters he has created who come back to haunt him. The camera remains hand-held as it had since Husbands and Wives with Carlo Di Palma giving a lushness to many of the scenes (especially clear where Harry imagines himself going down to Hell). The only fly in the ointment is Woody's tiresome use of showy jump-cuts which irritate to no good effect. Critics have noted the film's resemblance to Bergman's Wild Strawberries, but whereas that film was of an old man looking back over his life with a sense of satisfied accomplishment, Harry looks back in disgust, leaving himself nowhere to hide here except in his own art. Harry (Woody?) admits he's a terrible man in real life and that the only place where he can function at all is in his own writing. I swear I spotted Philip Roth in a walk-on part in Hell. This is dead on actually, as the characters Harry most remind me of are David Kapesh and Mickey Sabbath, two of Roth's most infamous libidinous protagonists who Harry (Woody/Roth?) resembles to a T.

This is a review of the region 2 version released for the UK market which seems (like the Robin Williams character) to be a bit blurry around the edges. Watching it after MGM's release of Stardust Memories I was struck at how much more care has been taken over the transfer of the earlier film. Never mind, it's not bad enough to stop you buying. Go ahead - it's a bracing experience.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ' Very funny ', 16 Oct. 2011
By 
D. S. Sample (Turnipshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
I can understand what people who like Woody Allen don't like about this film, its' probably the swearing, something not usually used in his films, don't know if he was trying to be a bit more up to date. Apart from that I found it very funny, leave it a couple of years and I'll probably watch it again, Woody plays the part he's best at, a neurotic, a writer who writes novels loosely based on his life experiences, which has a tendency to upset close family and friends I don't like to give the story away so I won't, a very entertaining and funny film.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One last hurrah before the slump, 27 Oct. 2010
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
It has been fascinating, seeing this film again for the first time since it was at the NFT back in the late nineties. I remembered a lot of swearing and a lot of laughter in the auditorium. And again the film made me laugh out loud several times.

I see this as another film, like Stardust Memories, where Allen appears to be taking stock of his life and work; the difference is that with Deconstructing Harry he lets fly at his critics, his enemies, at everybody, with a film that is unique in Allen's career for its profanity, its gleeful hostility, its zest for lasciviousness.

The stories are very witty, the ensemble cast superb, even if some scenes don't quite ring true (I didn't much care for Judy Davis' gun-toting hysteria at the beginning); the co-mingling of fantasy and reality as Harry's characters visit him and provide insights into the lives of the people he has known and disappointed. This is another film that nods at Bergman's Wild Strawberries, where the old professor makes a road trip to accept an honour and dreams and memories are stirred as he revisits the scenes of his life. Allen's film is more zany, more cartoonish, but it is also funnier and more of a party. Vignettes of other films, allusions to his prose fiction, reflections upon his personal and professional shortcomings, combined with an almight F*** YOU! to everyone.

People who react with horror have been soaking up the trad jazz and ignoring the work of the artist. It's not likely to be your favourite Woody film, but it's very entertaining and in no other Allen film are the cast - especially the women - pushed to express such fury. A film of very strong emotions, very adult. Just don't expect to know what 'deconstruction' means by the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly, 19 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
His most likeable film since Hannah and his Sisters and similar in style to his earlier 70's efforts,Annie Hall,Play it again,Sam with liberal use of flashbacks and fantasy sequences.Some LOL moments,rare in his 90's movies and large doses of dry New York jewish wit.

Non-stop stream of guest stars in cameo roles,but some of the supporting cast turn in amateurish performances.Best bits are the blind grandma,the corpse in the car and Billy Crystal as Satan.

Central character,though,suffers from too much navel gazing,film is over talky in parts, and unusually for Allen,profanities abound.

Choppy editing from fantasy to flashback and to the present and Pythonesque scenes which abruptly stop mean it is not an easy watch.

Still very good.
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1.0 out of 5 stars For die hard fans only, 4 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Deconstructing Harry (DVD)
Managed to watch about 30 minutes of this before switching off.

It seemed to me a re-hash of Woody mumbling and going over the same mannerisms as in previous films (some of which are classics of their type), laced with bad language, mock sex scenes and star dropping to invigorate each scene - some worked some didn't.

Sorry, not a patch on Annie Hall or Manhattan, seemed to lack sensitivity and real character content - maybe it improved and gained a story line / meaning in the latter stages but by then I'd had enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dog medication, 27 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Very happy with purchases made for Max - I've seen an improvement to his walking as a result of Max taking Vetzyme for his painful joints
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allen at his best, 6 Jan. 2002
This review is from: Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Looking at the cast for this movie, one cant help but wander who else could gather so many big actors for the same film. Allen plays a writer whos latest book depicts the lives of those close to him. As usual there are a lot of romantic mixups lots of weird situations and those comic moments that are woodys trademark. Higly recomended for any Woody Allen fan.
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Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998]
Deconstructing Harry [DVD] [1998] by Woody Allen (DVD - 2002)
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