It’s tempting, one must admit, to mangle the title of Woody Allen’s latest trifle and let it stand as a review. To wit: Pooper Scoop. But professionalism dictates we delve further (if only briefly) into the increasingly uninteresting and profoundly disinterested mind of a filmmaker with nothing more to say, and whose primary concern of late appears to be scheduling his movies’ release dates around the summer and winter solstices. Whether intentional or not, Allen grants his character—a contemptuous hack magician caught up in a London-set murder non-mystery with Scarlett Johannson’s budding slut-mouse journalist—the film’s most honest line: “I was born into the Hebrew persuasion, but when I grew up I converted to Narcissism.” In a film of half-jokes, he’s only quarter-kidding. Post-Husbands and Wives, Allen has been on a slow and steady decline, so much so that his self-absorbed work of recent vintage, including his much-heralded “return-to-form” Match Point, casts a diseased pall over his supposed masterpieces of years past. Allen has been making the same film from the same jaundiced kino-eye since day one, but his early comedies and dramas (even, shudder, Interiors) at least had some sense of rhythm and energy, not to mention stellar performances by actors who, more often than not, transcended the writer-director’s highly problematic worldview, a veritable witches brew of misogyny, misanthropy, and superciliousness—always coarsely exploited and crudely explored—that a well-placed punchline or intuitive line-reading could typically salve. (As Scoop‘s student-level cinematography proves, we don’t go to an Allen film for its visual pleasures.) Nowadays an Allen film is where a performer goes to bolster their resumé and while I’m happy Ian McShane had something to do while on hiatus from Deadwood, I don’t particularly wish to see a 96-minute home movie of his holiday.
- Woody Allen
- Woody Allen
- Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Romola Garai, Charles Dance, Anthony Head, Kevin McNally, Ian McShane
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