Film & TV

Open letter to… Woody Allen

Dear Woody,

I don’t know what your game is, but I don’t like it. Did you think a magnificent return from a ten-year stint of what I would kindly describe as lacklustre pictures would grab you another Oscar? Did you lose your glasses?

I admit I have something of a grudge. Picture me, age fourteen, queuing up outside the pictures to see your new movie Celebrity, expecting a similar standard to the fantastic Deconstructing Harry. It was an experience I have tried to forget. A year later, unperturbed, I waited in line and handed over my hard earned pocket money for Sweet and Lowdown. I could have cried, but not in a good way.

Your characters used to zip along the narrative in the flurry of sharp wit and incomparable one-liners that formed your own brand of Jewish New York humour. But here they were left instead to flail around in an all-too-predictable script in search of a good joke or insightful line, albeit against an admittedly beautifully shot background. Did we miss the point of Deconstructing Harry – was it actually an attempt at a poignant autobiopic, a desperate cry for help? Perhaps you were suffering as the critics hailed your genius for self-deprecation, simply hoping that someone would come and bring you out of your stupor. Well, thankfully, it seems someone’s finally got the picture.

Still, while Vicky Christina Barcelona is a fine return to form and certainly one of the best movies of the year so far, there are a few things I miss, those indefinable qualities that made your pictures unique. What happened to whimsy? The flights of fanciful lunacy that conjured up comedy films as diverse and wonderful as Zelig, Love and Death, and Play It Again Sam. A neurotic whose psyche projects as a Marlowesque Humphrey Bogart? Utter genius. I wonder what happened to the New York that rolled to the sounds of George Gershwin and Cole Porter, and made me so desperately want to go there.

So thanks for taking the first few steps on the road to recovery, but keep taking the medicine and let’s hope for a permanent cure!

With very best wishes,
Tom France

Film & TV

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