In the world of journalism, an unsolved murder is like catnip.
In the 2006 movie, Scoop, American journalism student Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) has a hot tip regarding the murder of fellow journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane). She follows the tip to doorway of British aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman). But things get weird when Sondra begins to fall for the man who maybe Joe’s killer and begins to question if Joe might have been wrong.
Every filmmaker has at least one film where the tried and true becomes dull and predictable. Unfortunately, this is that film for Woody Allen. While his cast is stellar, they cannot make up for the fact that screenplay needed work.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
When a writer mines for ideas, sometimes the best ideas come from their childhood.
The 1987 movie, Radio Days, is based on the childhood memories of writer/director Woody Allen. Growing up in Rockaway Beach, NY during World War II, Joe (played by Seth Green as a child and voiced over by Woody Allen as an adult) associates the various aspects of his life with the radio programs of the era. Told through the memories of the adult Joe, the film is a love letter to not just childhood, but also a time when radio was the medium that the world relied on for news and entertainment.
The best films are timeless because there is a universal quality to them. Despite the physical location and the time period that the film is set in, anyone from anywhere will find an aspect of the film that they can relate to. This movie is universal because it is about childhood, family and the memories we have long after we have become adults.
I recommend it.
There is an old saying: opposites attract.
In Annie Hall (1977), opposites did more than attract. They had a relationship, but that relationship was not meant to be. Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is a twice divorced forty something Jewish man from New York who has spent much of his adult life in therapy. His ex-girlfriend, Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), is a Christian night club singer from the Midwest who has a unique sense of style. The movie is told in flashbacks, telling the story of Alvy and Annie’s relationship, told from Alvy’s point of view.
This movie has endured for nearly 40 years for a reason. Funny and quirky, the relationship between Annie and Alvy on screen is very real and very human. This is one of Woody Allen’s signature movies and the reason why it ranks for me as one of the best films of the late 1970’s.
I recommend it.
Woody’s Allen latest film venture is Blue Jasmine, a film about a woman trying to rebuilt her life while living with her sister in San Fransisco.
Jasmine’s (Cate Blanchett) husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) appeared to be wealthy and spoiled his wife endlessly. That is until his less than legitimate business practices are revealed and Hal is arrested and put into jail, ending the life to which Jasmine was accustomed to living.
Jasmine’s only assistance comes in the form of her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), presently living in San Fransisco with her two sons. Sally is divorced from Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) and dating Chili (Bobby Cannavale), neither man has met Jasmine’s approval.
Jasmine’s potential re-emergence into her former life comes by way of Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), but she knows that her past may come back to haunt her.
While this is not my favorite Woody Allen film, its certainly an interesting one. Jasmine is a very complicated character living a very complicated life, Blanchett is the perfect actress for this part. This movie is almost feels like Streetcar Named Desire, with a main character who has a complicated past while conflicting with her present and the only family members that will take her in. Hawkins, as Ginger, with her ex husband and boyfriend makes for an interesting dichotomy between the two sisters. Sarsgaard as Dwight, comes in late into the film, but gives the audience a glimmer of hope that Jasmine will be able to return to her previous life.
It’s a little long, but its an enjoyable movie, which I think will generate nominations come award season.