pray for Woody Allen

I Will Pray for Him

30 June 2023

5.2 MINS

There is no limit as to whom we can pray for.

All Christians pray – or should pray – and that includes praying for others. The Bible speaks often about prayer, as does the Apostle Paul, including asking for prayer for himself and his ministry. And in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, he famously said this:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

He also told us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). So the Christian life is a life of prayer – for oneself and for others. Who you pray for largely depends on your circle of friends and family. But anyone can be prayed for of course.

I might be a bit odd perhaps, but I pray for all sorts of folks: it might be a musician or a film star or various politicians. Friends and family obviously are prayed for every day. But many others – many who would not know me from a bar of soap – are also prayed for on a regular basis.

People like Bob Dylan for example can be mentioned. I have followed him for decades, going way back to my hippy days in the late 60s. We know that the 82-year-old Dylan had a brief Christian phase back in the late 70s and early 80s. Where he is at today spiritually speaking, I am not too sure. But I still pray for him — usually daily.

Case in point: Woody Allen

And then there are folks like Woody Allen, who often seem to be asking the big questions about life. The 87-year-old comedian, actor and filmmaker has made millions of people laugh over the decades, but he has also made so many think as well. Allen, a secular Jew, has asked a lot of important questions and his films often demonstrate this.

Even his comedy routines reflect the fact that he thinks a lot about life and why we are here and what is our purpose. And it is clear that he thinks deeply about these things. As he quipped in one joke: “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

He thinks about big-ticket items like love and death. Thus, not surprisingly, he released a film in 1975 called Love and Death. Even if not all of his films involve philosophical ruminations, they do feature lots of questions about what life is all about, and earlier classics such as Annie Hall (1977) are still good for a laugh if not for further reflections on life.

Allen has directed some 50 films – nearly one a year. He sure keeps busy. Let me focus on just one film – partly because it has again been screened on television recently. A film like Midnight in Paris (2011) shows a lot of artistic and cinematic talent and all the rest, but it also shows a lot of thought has been put into it.

Not many movies and filmmakers can manage to bring together so many key historical, literary and artistic figures in one film — figures such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dalí, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, Henri Matisse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Alice B. Toklas and Pablo Picasso.

I do not usually depend upon Wikipedia, but a few quotes from it might be fitting here:

Midnight in Paris is a 2011 fantasy comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen. Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Bender (Owen Wilson), a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight…

Critical reception

Midnight in Paris received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 93%, based on 224 reviews, with an average rating of 7.80/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “It may not boast the depth of his classic films, but the sweetly sentimental Midnight in Paris is funny and charming enough to satisfy Woody Allen fans.” The film has received Allen’s best reviews and score on the site since 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 40 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”.

The film received some generally positive reviews after its premiere at the 64th Cannes Film Festival. Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter praised Darius Khondji’s cinematography and claimed the film “has the concision and snappy pace of Allen’s best work”.

A. O. Scott of The New York Times commented on Owen Wilson’s success at playing the Woody Allen persona. He states that the film is marvelously romantic and credibly blends “whimsy and wisdom”. He praised Khondji’s cinematography, the supporting cast and remarked that it is a memorable film and that “Mr. Allen has often said that he does not want or expect his own work to survive, but as modest and lighthearted as Midnight in Paris is, it suggests otherwise: Not an ambition toward immortality so much as a willingness to leave something behind—a bit of memorabilia, or art, if you like that word better—that catches the attention and solicits the admiration of lonely wanderers in some future time.”

Roger Ebert gave the film 3+1/2 stars out of 4. He ended his review thus:

“This is Woody Allen’s 41st film. He writes his films himself, and directs them with wit and grace. I consider him a treasure of the cinema. Some people take him for granted, although Midnight in Paris reportedly charmed even the jaded veterans of the Cannes press screenings. There is nothing to dislike about it. Either you connect with it or not. I’m wearying of movies that are for ‘everybody’ – which means, nobody in particular. Midnight in Paris is for me, in particular, and that’s just fine with moi.”

Richard Roeper, an American film critic, gave Midnight in Paris an “A”; referring to it as a “wonderful film” and “one of the best romantic comedies in recent years”. He commented that the actors are uniformly brilliant and praised the film’s use of witty one-liners.

Sorry for a long drawn-out chat about Allen and this film here, but as I say, I find him to be a rather fascinating character. And more can be said about him. For example, he is an accomplished jazz clarinettist – especially of New Orleans Jazz, something I also quite like. He is a very talented fellow.

But more importantly, I think he is worth praying for. He may be asking a lot of key questions, but he needs to settle upon some solid answers. He once offered this joke: “To you, I’m an atheist. To God, I’m the loyal opposition.” Well, one day it will not be a joking matter, so he needs to consider his eternal destiny real soon. Why not join with me in praying for him? He needs Christ just like we all do.

Concluding thoughts

As mentioned, there are all sorts of folks we can pray for, and for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you are driving down the road and see an elderly person struggling as she carries a heavy bag of groceries. Shoot up a prayer for her – or better yet, stop and ask her if she needs some help.

You might have a snooty person serving you at a fast-food restaurant. Offer a quick prayer for him. You might have a fave TV show, so why not pray for its main stars? As I have said often, when I twice daily walk the dog, I pray for all of my neighbours that I pass by.

In his 1972 book Preaching and Preachers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this:

“Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse.”

Good advice indeed.

___

Originally published at CultureWatch.

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3 Comments

  1. Ian Moncrieff 30 June 2023 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Praying is so rewarding and powerful. Thanks Bill for the encouragement. I also pray for “strays”, ie passers by, actors, polies and policemen and women etc. Does me good to, and I am sure it pleases Father as well.

    • Kaylene Emery 30 June 2023 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Me too Ian. And you are correct I believe also …..it please our Father in heaven when we pray for those we don’t know as we pass by.
      Blessings to you n yours.

  2. Bill Muehlenberg 30 June 2023 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks Ian.

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