From 1969's Take the Money and Run through 2001's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, I'd seen every single Woody Allen directed film except for one - Shadows and Fog. Starting with 2002's Hollywood Ending through last year's Cassandra's Dream, I'd only bothered to see one of his films - Match Point.
So I was excited to hear such positive reviews from my friends as well as reading many good reviews. Still, I was a bit apprehensive to get too caught up in the hype. 2005's Match Point was way overhyped. The movie is good enough but nothing spectacular.
Needless to say, I was shocked to enjoy this film as much as I did. Where the hell did this come from? Wow! I guess Allen has used his last few films of movies with Scarlett Johanssen in Europe to hone his craft because this movie is downright great. Ok, maybe not great great but very very good. Granted, I haven't seen many of his movies the past few years but I'd say that this is my favorite Woody Allen film since 1992's Husbands and Wives. Although Mitch is partial to 1993's Manhattan Murder Mystery but I don't remember that one too well.
The film is unmistakably Woody Allen but it doesn't feel like one like almost all of his other ones do. Sure, Vicky is a bit neurotic and Cristina is a bit crazy but I've never seen characters like Javier Bardem or Penelope Cruz in an Allen movie. Maybe I just can't remember all of his movies so maybe I'm overstating the originality of this film compared to his entire filmography. Even his last decent movie, Match Point, was built upon his ideas from a previous Allen movie, 1989's Crimes and Misdemeanors. This almost felt a bit like a Rohmer film to me but maybe I'm just thinking that because of the beautiful European locale? Either way, I was completely taken with the movie - with the characters, the situations, the settings. Everything.
If Allen used to make good movie after good movie, he might now be to the point that he only makes a good one every four or five tries. But I'm excited. This one was so good that I hope he's finally entering a brilliant late phase of his career after misfiring for so long.
Directed by Woody Allen
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