This weeks film is one I have been looking forward to as I have previously read articles stating that ‘Match Point’ is one of Allen’s greatest films of recent years. However I have to say that I was ultimately disappointed as the film although not terrible does not match the greatness achieved in say Blue Jasmine.
Chris Wilton (Johnathan Rhys Myers) is an ex-tennis pro who appears to have made it when he marries into a rich family. However an affair with a wannabe actress (Scarlett Johansson) who is engaged to his brother-in-law threatens to ruin everything with drastic consequences.
As I said before the film is not brilliant; however there are several moments that shine. The consistent metaphors relating to tennis work wonderfully throughout and tie together the narrative in unexpected ways; however the film really doesn’t get going until the final half hour.
I presume that Allen was influenced by the ‘Hitchcock’ narrative once more in that most of the film is characterisation leading to dramatic consequences and I have to say this is done well. The characters may be a little lackustre (more on that in a minute) and despite not an awful lot happening for the opening hour and a half; the final thirty minutes is a tension filled thrilled that is truly astounding.
The characters in the film lack depth and are simply annoying. Rhys Meyers character and all those with whom he speaks come across as upper-class ponces who seem a little pedantic; personally I found it odd that Allen would focus his narrative around such characters when these are the ones whom he normally uses for satire. This added to the slow narrative makes the film a drag. Scarlett Johansson performance does brighten things but ultimately even she lacks depth.
The film scores reasonably low on the Allen scale and is very untypical of what is to be expected from one of his films.
Match Point is a disaapointing film with a fantastic ending that loses impertous because of a slow and tedious build up.
I therefore award it 2 Allens giving it a total of 5/10.
Scoop is another Woody Allen trip to the city of London; this time following the story an American journalist/student and a magician (played by Allen himself). The film is a great example of the bizarreness of Woody Allen films.
After being given a tip by a dead man, Sondra (Scarlett Johansson), a young journalism student, discovers the Scoop of the century and alongside the help of narcistic magician Sidney (Woody Allen) sets about investigating Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) the son of a lord.
The film is a typical Woody Allen film on so many levels and brightened by the performance of Allen himself; in a typically Allen role. For me what makes the film so enjoyable is its bizarreness; much as he does in Midnight in Paris and Purple Rose of Cairo; Allen creates a perfectly realistic universe and then adds a totally unexplained & surreal element that is unexplained, unexpected and yet somehow makes total sense. Although the supernatural element does not occur as often as in other films it is this moment that captures interest in the audience and also drives the narrative forwards.
This film balances a line between film-noir and comedy in a perfect manner; it never sinks as low as being a farcical parody yet it does not take itself too seriously. Whereas last weeks Cassandra’s Dream didn’t seem to no its tone this film does and sticks to its line near perfectly. The best thing of the film is however Woody Allen’s performance. Allen simply does what he always does when he acts; he stammers and rambles on about death and Judaism; when you add in that his character is a magician and is constantly doing magic tricks the entire character is perfect.
Sadly, I think the film is let down by Scarlett Johansson’s performance; in this film she is playing a much more toned-down role than from what we are accustomed to from her. She is a student who rambles in an Allen-esque manner but there is just something unbelievable about her; especially when she has a romance with Hugh Jackman.
The film is a typical Woody Allen film and scores highly on the Allen scale gaining 7.75/10 with the only aspect missing being a lack of real nostalgic references; although the plot focuses around aristocrats there are very few art and literature references (by Allen standards).
Scoop is a thoroughly entertaining film and therefore I award it four Woody which when added to the Allen scale give it a total of 8/10.
This weeks film is a Woody Allen’s tribute to the master of suspense Hitchcock and is a film with an entirely different tone to any other film I have thus far seen.
Ian (Ewan McGregor) and Terry (Colin Farrell) are a couple of brothers stuck in dead-end lives who dream of better things. With Terry finding himself in large gambling debt and Ian offered a great investment opportunity they are forced to turn to their rich Uncle (Tom Wilkinson) who offers them they money they desire if they complete a deadly task for him.
Watching the film it felt very un-Woody. Many of the attributes and characters which I have come to relate to an Allen where missing – the film is not reliant on character and dialogue as so many are and is instead driven by an actual narrative. This although not brilliant was a little refreshing as the film plays out, however I am unsure if it is a good thing.
When watching the film whilst I was not bored I did not feel fully involved and am still unsure if I enjoyed it or not. It is definitely a film that I will never go out of my way to watch.
The film does have several points that are not good. Firstly I found that the Hitchcockian imitation which Allen attempts in terms of style felt extremely dated (with the story set in the current day) and made the characters difficult to like. The moments in which tension should have been created – and would have in a Hitchcock film – did not hit their marks thus making the film stretch out a little.
The other bad thing in this film was the performances (particularly that of Ewan McGregor). Whilst I usually like McGregor in general; in this film he pushed the line of being obviously ‘acting’ too far that his character felt fake; as if he was reading lines and carrying out rehearsed actions. This was very distracting especially in some of the longer takes where his presence was needed. The team up of McGregor and Allen was one of the things that excited me for the film and was ultimately my biggest disappointment.
As I said this film was particularly un-Woody and therefore scores just 3.75 on the Allen Scale.
Cassandra’s dream is a film which is difficult to judge I therefore award it 3 Woody’s; giving it a total of five.
This weeks film showcases Woody Allen’s love affair with Spain and Spanish cinema as he visits the city of Barcelona in a film adopting the style of typical Spanish films.
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two friends visiting Barcelona for the summer. Vicky is uptight, organised and soon to be married, whereas Cristina is much more of a free spirit. When they both fall for the charming artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) a complex series of love affairs begin.
The film begins in a style that is typical of a Spanish film; with the two main characters sitting in the car whilst an extremely detailed voiceover explains intimate details about who they are. This voiceover continues throughout and is a nice comic touch whilst also helping explain exactly what the characters are thinking.
The story is also extremely interesting and unpredictable with several twists and turns; just as it appears to be reaching a point of predictability their will be a dramatic twist that will change everything. This makes the film seem fresh and interesting. The plot also allows Allen a lot of freedom to explore Spanish society; with Vicky studying Catalan history and Cristina being a budding photographer there are countless opportunities for Barcelona’s museums and culture to be referenced.
The most interesting part of the film by far though is the contrast between the two lead females. Both characters are written and performed excellently and seem to be the antithesis of each other; yet somehow remain friends. It is their differences that drive the film forward and make it what could be described as a ‘masterpeice’ (although I throw that word out lightly as Allen has done better work).
There is very little wrong with this film as it is well paced, full of interesting characters and carries just enough wit to make the drama more impactive.
The film contains most Woody Allen traits and therefore scores 7/10 on the Allen Scale.
Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona is a wonderful film which delights and pleases throughout; I therefore award it 5 stars giving it a total score of 9 when added to that of the Allen scale.