Directed by: Woody Allen. So this is part of a larger topic that I might tackle one day about noteworthy, talented people doing bad things, and the responsibility we the audience do or don’t have to stop consumption of artworks by those people, or to somehow compensate for the tainted provenance of a given film/novel/song, etc. I was pretty late to the game when it came to the allegations of pedo stuff against Woody Allen, but from that point to now, I haven’t been able to just watch one of his movies with a clear mind, even though I generally really like his later stuff, and he keeps churning out so many of them. For now, the softest cop-out I could settle on, after giving in and checking out a couple more films, is to do my review on the film, as a film, in isolation, but to precede it by acknowledging that there is a contentious debate in there. For starters, here’s this article.
As for the movie, it was really fun! I’m in the unpopular camp that prefers 21st century Woody to almost any other period. I liked Annie Hall and everything, and I understand why Manhattan is supposed to be a masterpiece (although, talk about pedo tendencies—give me a break!), but I’m really quite fond of small-scale, low-budget, clockwork, low-stakes displays of Allen’s storytelling and characterization, and these days, that’s about 100% of what he does from, say, Matchpoint on. And, frankly, he does it really well. I won’t rave about this particular movie—it’s fine, it’s fun, whatever. Everyone does what they have to do really well, the stories are typical Woody Allen stuff, they’re funny, they’re easy. But really, what terrific fun! The most wishy-washy story with Jesse Eisenberg falling in love with Ellen Page, besides giving the amazing Greta Gerwig nothing to do, was the most borderline meh storyline, but I did find the little bent-reality fantasy-reality fourth-wall stuff with Alec Baldwin to be kind of the saving grace. But make no mistake, that storyline is the weakest storyline, and the one most packed with A-list English-speaking Hollywood stars, the one that got the financial backing I’m sure. The real gold is the Italian stuff, the husband and wife who get separated and each have their own adventures, and the Roberto Benigni stuff, my God! Give me Roberto Benigni all day and every day. And the subplot with the opera singer who can only sing in the shower! That’s some 60’s Woody Allen humour there, some classic, old-timey American Jewish humour that never gets old for me. As long as Woody’s still doing stuff that makes me feel this good, the whole thing is going to continue being awkward. But for what it’s worth, I’m getting all these movies for free from the public library so Woody’s not seeing a dime from me. Just sayin.