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Sweet and Lowdown

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Overview

Woody Allen immerses himself in the world of vintage jazz in this period mock-biography of a musician gifted in his art but a sad student in life. Emmet Ray Sean Penn is a 1930s jazz guitarist considered one of the finest musicians ever to touch a fretboard, second only to the legendary Django Reinhardt. For all the passion and sensitivity of his music, Emmet is a louse off-stage; he earned his living as a pimp before gaining fame, and he throws his money away on flashy clothes and big cars, going through women ...
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Overview

Woody Allen immerses himself in the world of vintage jazz in this period mock-biography of a musician gifted in his art but a sad student in life. Emmet Ray Sean Penn is a 1930s jazz guitarist considered one of the finest musicians ever to touch a fretboard, second only to the legendary Django Reinhardt. For all the passion and sensitivity of his music, Emmet is a louse off-stage; he earned his living as a pimp before gaining fame, and he throws his money away on flashy clothes and big cars, going through women like guitar picks. He also has another charming hobby: shooting rats at the city dump. But when Emmet meets Hattie Samantha Morton, a shy, mute woman who earns her living doing laundry, he discovers that she loves his music, and he promptly falls for her. However, his inability to be faithful, his arrogant conviction that a musician should never marry, and his belief that he can do better than Hattie eventually doom their relationship. Emmet later marries Blanche Uma Thurman, a beautiful and refined woman with a career as an author, but she is no more interested in fidelity than he is, and in time he realizes how foolish he was to give up Hattie. Jazz guitarist Howard Alden plays Emmet's solos on the soundtrack, while several authorities on jazz discuss "Emmet's" music, including Nat Hentoff, Douglas McGrath, and one Woody Allen.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The product of Woody Allen's lifelong love of jazz, Sweet and Lowdown is as much a continued exploration of the relationship between an artist's private life and his or her professional career -- foregrounded elsewhere in Deconstructing Harry and Celebrity -- as about the music itself. And it doesn't benefit all that much from the extra baggage. The period detail, Sean Penn's tragi-comic characterization, Allen's wickedly funny employment of jazz biography cliches and, of course, fine music all work in its favor. But the central dilemma -- how could such a reprehensible man make such wonderful music? -- remains overstated and overly obvious, even with an abundance of real-life corollaries. (Penn's character, animal cruelty and all, would still make for a preferable dining companion to Miles Davis.) The idealization of Samantha Morton's character, a sainted mute submissive to Penn's neglect, has its creepy undertones as well, offset by Morton's impressive performance, a superb pantomime that lends her character a depth it couldn't have had on the page. A measured success, Sweet and Lowdown's command of its corner of music history, more than its command of its story and characters, suggests that Allen would benefit from a return to the world explored here.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/16/2001
  • UPC: 043396049628
  • Original Release: 1999
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sean Penn Emmet Ray
Samantha Morton Hattie
Uma Thurman Blanche
Brian Markinson Bill Shields
Anthony LaPaglia Al Torrio
Woody Allen himself
Gretchen Mol Ellie
Vincent Guastaferro Sid Bishop
John Waters Mr. Haynes
Constance Schulman Hazel
Kellie Overbey Iris
James Urbaniak Harry
Mark Damon Johnson Omer
Darryl Alan Reed Don
Rick Monday Chester Weems
Brad Garrett Joe Bedloe
Douglas McGrath himself
Technical Credits
Woody Allen Director, Screenwriter
Letty Aronson Executive Producer
J.E. Beaucaire Executive Producer
Richard Brick Co-producer
Laura Cunningham-Bauer Costumes/Costume Designer
Jean Doumanian Producer
Zhao Fei Cinematographer
Dick Hyman Score Composer
Charles H. Joffe Executive Producer
Les Lazarowitz Sound/Sound Designer
Alisa Lepselter Editor
Santo Loquasto Production Designer
Richard Patrick Asst. Director
Jack Rollins Executive Producer
Laura Rosenthal Casting
Juliet Taylor Casting
Tom Warren Art Director
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Just plain great!

    Wow...I thought this movie in every way was well done. It has everything in it, humor, romance, and drama. Myself, being a guitarist, loved this movie and would recommend it to anyone who has a taste for jazz or music in general.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews