Jack Rollins

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Scoop Review


Weak
Maybe it was just too soon. Maybe after coming back so strongly with last year's bracing morality thriller Match Point, Woody Allen should have taken a year or so off. Caught up on his reading, taken care of the garden, whatever. But, being the manically productive filmmaker that he is, he had to follow up his best film in years almost immediately after with another one, Scoop, featuring his newest favorite leading lady Scarlett Johansson (we are many years removed from the Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton phases), and a 180-degree turn in mood. No icy tension or investigations of ethical behavior this time, just hijinks and one-liners -- though for the second time in a row, the most famously New York-centric filmmaker sets the action in London. As Allen's character in Scoop notes, the restaurants are great, and the theater's better.

Taking a page from his last truly funny frivolous comedy, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Allen puts a pair of fairly clueless but nosy characters in the middle of a murder mystery and hopes that their bickering will carry the day. It almost does. Johansson is a long way from her previous Allen role as a soulless social-climber, playing this time American journalism student Sondra Pransky, who's so awkward and out of her element that, in order to get a story, she sleeps with a famous actor, and then forgets to get the interview. Johansson's better at playing daffy than one might expect, and unlike films like The Devil Wears Prada -- where a bad sweater and bangs are supposed to make Anne Hathaway some sort of hideous ogre -- this one doesn't pretend that she's unattractive behind the big glasses and careless hair.

Continue reading: Scoop Review

Scoop Review


Weak
Maybe it was just too soon. Maybe after coming back so strongly with last year's bracing morality thriller Match Point, Woody Allen should have taken a year or so off. Caught up on his reading, taken care of the garden, whatever. But, being the manically productive filmmaker that he is, he had to follow up his best film in years almost immediately after with another one, Scoop, featuring his newest favorite leading lady Scarlett Johansson (we are many years removed from the Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton phases), and a 180-degree turn in mood. No icy tension or investigations of ethical behavior this time, just hijinks and one-liners -- though for the second time in a row, the most famously New York-centric filmmaker sets the action in London. As Allen's character in Scoop notes, the restaurants are great, and the theater's better.

Taking a page from his last truly funny frivolous comedy, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Allen puts a pair of fairly clueless but nosy characters in the middle of a murder mystery and hopes that their bickering will carry the day. It almost does. Johansson is a long way from her previous Allen role as a soulless social-climber, playing this time American journalism student Sondra Pransky, who's so awkward and out of her element that, in order to get a story, she sleeps with a famous actor, and then forgets to get the interview. Johansson's better at playing daffy than one might expect, and unlike films like The Devil Wears Prada -- where a bad sweater and bangs are supposed to make Anne Hathaway some sort of hideous ogre -- this one doesn't pretend that she's unattractive behind the big glasses and careless hair.

Continue reading: Scoop Review

Annie Hall Review


Essential
The Woodman's finest hour, in this bittersweet love story between a die-hard New Yorker and a midwestern ditz, about what it really takes to make a relationship (or two or three) work. Woody Allen is at his best as an actor, and Diane Keaton has never had a better role. What makes Annie Hall so much fun, though, is the cameos -- from Paul Simon to Jeff Goldblum's one liner (On the phone: "I forgot my mantra!"), it's a complete send-up of the 70s. Best is Christopher Walken as Annie's psychotic brother.

Continue reading: Annie Hall Review

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