literature, cinema, fine arts

Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

Being Woody Allen

  • Produced by Müpa Budapest
  • Müpa Film Club

Ticket prices

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More people should listen to the world-class guitarist Emmet Ray - he's nearly as good as Django Reinhardt. And what a life he had! We are in the 1930s. Jazz is booming, and there is no disputing that Emmet Ray is America's best guitarist. He would be the best guitarist in the world, if it weren't for the damned talented Django strumming his stuff in Europe. But Emmet really is devilishly good - as you will hear in the film.

His personality is contradictory. He is a kleptomaniac, stares at trains, and shoots rats with his big bore pistol. His spiritual life is even more of a contradiction. He lives day to day, can't handle money, and is unreliable and egocentric. And the less said about his relationship with women the better. What can you do? As an artist, he has a God-given talent, and conveys his emotions to us through his instrument. This is a biopic. Or perhaps not, given that the precise details of the life of Emmet Ray (Sean Penn) are unknown. Even the words of his wife, the obscure writer Blanche Williams (Uma Thurman), don't provide us with a firm grip on things. His former partner, Hattie (Samantha Morton), was mute, so there are no oral memories to rely on there. Fortunately, from fragments and pieces of gossip, it was possible for jazz historians from the present-day (1999) to more or less faithfully reconstruct the career of this genius. The more you think about it, the more it seems that this is a spectacular documentary. One that, even though it in no way deals with hard facts, nevertheless offers a glimpse into the art and the internal life of an extraordinary musician.
It should also be noted that there are no recordings available of Emmet Ray, not even online. Because, in fact, Emmet Ray never existed. Which might just make him a close relative of Leonard Zelig, who Woody Allen brought to life in falsified documents. The story of the world's second greatest guitarist may not be true, but it is real enough. A joyous and melancholy tale.

In English, with Hungarian subtitles.

The discussions before and after the screening will be conducted in Hungarian.

Presented by: Müpa Budapest
  • director
    Woody Allen
  • host
    András Réz

Ticket information

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