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Sweet and Lowdown (Fullscreen)

4.2 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In the 1930's, Emmet Ray ruled as the second greatest jazz guitarist in the world. But offstage, and particularly in regards to his relationships with women, he was the undisputed king. Academy Award(r)-nominee Sean Penn stars in this richly textured comedic portrait. Emmet's reputation as a renownedmusician is eclipsed by his eccentric career moves, hilarious clashes with gangsters and stormy love affairs with two very different women: Hattie (a breakout performance By Academy Award(r) and GoldenGlobe-nominee Samantha Morton), a mute laundress who loves Emmet unconditionally, and Blanche (Uma Thurman), an eccentric heiress he impulsively marries. SWEET AND LOWDOWN has been acclaimed as "a loving and comic tribute to a musical era! A standout performance by Sean Penn! Samantha Morton's Hattie is a very sweet virtuoso performance!" (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Penn, Samantha Morton, Woody Allen, Uma Thurman, Anthony Lapaglia
  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H. Joffe, J.E. Beaucaire, Jack Rollins, Jean Doumanian, Letty Aronson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2000
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004STRD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,891 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sweet and Lowdown (Fullscreen)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Throughout history, especially when the world was a much bigger place, before the time that whenever a "celebrity" sneezed it was front page tabloid news, how many truly great artists-- those of genius, even-- went unknown, unheralded and unrecognized to the end? Perhaps there was another Monet in our midst who, for whatever reason, was never noticed; who can say with any certainty there was not, or is not? It's a consideration writer/director Woody Allen examines in his often humorous, and more often poignant, "Sweet and Lowdown," starring Sean Penn and Samantha Morton. In it, Allen chronicles the life of the fictitious Emmet Ray (Penn), who just may have been the second greatest guitar player in the world during the `30s.
Allen employs the effective (in his hands) storytelling device of "interviews" with those who knew Ray in one capacity or another, to fill in the gaps as he attempts to draw a picture of this talented genius, about whom very little is really known. Only a handful of recordings-- made during the final years-- remain of who and what Ray is, or was. The portrait that comes into focus is that of a man, who though gifted as a musician, had a bit more trouble when it came to living his day to day life. Self-centered, irresponsible and taken to drink, he was something of a lowdown character. Then, one day in Atlantic City, Ray meets a sweet, young girl, Hattie (Morton), and they begin a relationship of sorts. The problem is, Ray is a self professed free spirit, an artist, who goes where he wants and does what he wants. Not exactly conducive to a sold relationship. But inbetween, there's the music; and, as Ray himself will tell anyone who will listen, he's the best guitar player in the world, with the possible exception of this "gypsy in France, "-- Django Reinhardt.
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Format: DVD
All the rumors you hear about Penn's being such the best actor of his generation must be true. In performance after performance, he becomes whomever he needs to become, whether Death Row convict ("Dead Man Walking") or eccentric lover veering into mental illness ("She's So Lovely") or, in this film, Emmet Ray, a jazz guitarist in the early part of the 20th century. I could swear Penn really knows how to play a guitar like Django R, he's so convincing as Emmet Ray! Ray excuses any atrocious behavior he engages in by his standard line to everyone, "But I'm an artist," reminding us of John Cusack's similar role in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway."

Samantha Morton shines as Ray's girlfriend, a mute laundress. Uma Thurman plays the vamp while wearing a stunning wardrobe from the 1920s. Oscar nominations for Penn and Morton were well deserved and, regardless of how you feel about Woody Allen these days, the film stands on its own, especially with the bravura acting ability of Penn and the luminosity of Morton. Allen makes a brief appearance as a narrator in the film but is not a character in it. Penn does NOT play Woody Allen in the film, which is what Allen has been accused of making his leading men do in his most recent films. I have no doubt that Penn COULD play Woody Allen if he wanted to do so but in this film he is Emmet Ray, right down to his toes.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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Format: VHS Tape
A Woody Allen masterpiece and although I love Woody Allen, I don't say that about all his movies. I was especially impressed with the acting and the complex characters presented in the film. Sean Penn plays Emmet Ray, an incredibly talented Jazz guitarist who is every bit aware of it (annoyingly so) and uses every opportunity to boast about how he is one of the best guitarists in the world, second only to the great Django Reinhart. Yet, this fact seems to be one that haunts him constantly and keeps him insecure and vulnerable despite all the fronts he puts up. His love life is also one to ponder. Ray is a brutish, uncaring, and unfaithful lover to every woman he has ever known. He does not change his ways much, even after he meets the right woman, Hattie, played by Samantha Morton. Hattie is a mute girl which seems to be right up Ray's alley, since she never questions or challenges him as his other girlfriend's had. Hattie's sweetness and unwavering devotion to Ray ironically are not really perceived as signs of weakness but rather almost elevate Hattie to somewhat of a modern-day heroine who, through her love, is able to transform the ways of Ray to make him want to be a better man.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am not going to rehash the plot. This review will focus on aspects of the film that I especially loved and a few observations. This is typical Allen - quirky humor, great music and beautiful women. Unlike most of Allen's films the punchlines are not as predictable (which is a punchline in itself), and the both main characters are extremely well developed.

What I love is this is done almost as a Ken Burns documentary, and certainly a spoof. The commentary is provided by jazz critic Nat Hentoff, Douglas McGrath, Allen and others. I would have loved to have had the controversial Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch as additional cast in that role because of their association with Ken Burns Jazz-The Story Of America's Music. It would have added an interesting dimension. However, as is, this aspect of the film is ingenious in my opinion.

The story is actually a lot like La Strada, but the acting is truly what earned the five stars I give. Penn is so convincing I had to tell myself that he is not really the jerk he portrayed. Also, I was impressed that he was actually playing (or at least miming) guitar in a credible manner. No shots of just hands.

To me, though, the real star is Samantha Morton. Zero dialog - everything is expression and she was masterful.

Overall, this was an enjoyable film that I have re-watched a few times. Many folks do not like Allen's approach to film making, and if you are in that camp you probably won't like this one either. However, if you are a fan, this is one of his better works in my opinion.
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