Scoop (2006) - Woody Allen

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Scoop (2006) - Woody Allen

Postby wpqx » Sat Jul 29, 2006 11:47 pm

It seems in anticipation of criticism Woody Allen always has some comic relief ready. Before Match Point even came out he had Scoop in the can, and another project in development. Scoop is the comic antecedent to Allen's most serious film in over a decade. Critics seem to have grown overly tired of Allen's comedies, and some are still in contempt of his run of Small Time Crooks to Anything Else. However Allen is first and foremost a comedian, and when his jokes work, few people are funnier.

Scoop is possibly the best comedy Allen has made in years, it's certainly the funniest film I've seen from him in a long time. Allen seems to be knowing his age for once. He's still Woody, but he isn't kidding himself into being a ladie's man anymore, and that could have been a little disturbing with Scarlett Johansen as his costar. Here Allen's role is similar to his turn in Anything Else, that of an aging old showbiz man with little social grace. Like Anything Else, and most of Allen's contemporary work, he does seem a little out of touch, especially with the under-40 crowd, but he gets over this quick. He plays off of his social buffoonary as a wonderfully comic sidekick that comes off as a supremely embarassing "father" to Johansen's Sandra.

The film is Allen all over, his humor, his pacing, his obsession with the upper crust, his high brow pop culture, and of course his nihlism. At times this film seems like it might be as bleak as Match Point was, but with a sense of humor that was desperately lacking in his last film. There were a few people in the theater (the senior citizens mostly) who found the film downright hilarious, which lets me know that Allen's target audience is his own age, and I just don't know if he's aware of that. The dialogue is Allen through and through, and lines are delivered quickly, and both Johansen and Allen come off as Allen archetypes. Johansen is an Allen heroine much in the vein of Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow, beautiful, but seemingly unaware of their own charm. The type is a little tired, and the greatest fault of the film is that it seems to be treading on previous ground. Allen hasn't said much new in a long time, but it seems to be wasting breath to complain about it now.

The change from New York to London is a welcome one in his last two films. It helped to set Match Point apart, which I believe Allen desperately needed last year. For Scoop though Allen gets to use London for his own comedy, much like he used LA in Annie Hall. In fact the films last great punchline comes from his inability to adapt to driving in the left lane. He does however generally feel out of place when out of New York, but like anyone else, I suppose he needs a vacation, and it offers him some new opportunities here. His next still untitled film is being shot in London as well, and will complete an unofficial trilogy and most likely conclude this late revival of sorts. The film does seem fresh, as Allen's comedies usually do coming after something serious. The murder mystery here plays on some of the amateur detective work of films like Curse of the Jade Scorpion, with a blend of Hitchcock ala Suspicion. An overall enjoyable Allen film, that ranks among his better films, but far from his best.

Grade B
wpqx
 


Re: Scoop (2006) - Woody Allen

Postby justindeimen » Fri Sep 29, 2006 5:09 pm

Review:

Courtesy of: MovieXclusive

Free from the shackles of proving his worth to a new generation of moviegoers after his noir-drama (with the barest morsel of comedy) in Match Point, hes once again piercing through the British upper crust with a knife and serving it up on his new favourite dish in Scarlett Johansson. After showing that he still had the chops to please audiences and critics alike, he now takes on a lighter and more playful farce (that can often be the most difficult genre to pull off) with the same thematic alignments of Match Point.

Adopting London as his new New York, Allen headlines his own comedic return as an anachronistic, uncouth vaudevillian magician, summing up his Sidney Waterman persona whos caught up way over his head. Hes foreign in more ways than one, when it comes to past that no one in the film really knows what to make of him. Still carrying out his old school awkwardness, hes now a self-parody thats more out of touch than misanthropic. Baffling to say the least.

But its an unwelcome transition of sorts for Allen. Its a self-aware Woody Allen practising his own shtick in front of the lenss reflection while taking himself out of the leading man equation where every plot thread used to run through his character. Now, hes just become a passing witness to his patented spiel.

Hes the Woody Allen that has lost his innocent, endearing neurosis and his refreshingly simplistic view of big city living. As his nervous tic becomes part of his character trait, he is still undoubtedly the biggest attraction in the film, even as his dire, recycled punchlines fall flat and his co-stars inattentively follow suit in an uneven throwback to 40s and 50s comedy fare.

Johansson takes on Lois Lanes intrepidity with a side of enthusiasm instead of journalistic talent. Hiding her radiant beauty and killer body behind frappy sweaters and large glasses, she relinquishes class for a touch of sniveling naivet and an almost innocent triviality for sexual relations while not being adverse to using her feminine wiles to get what she wants. Hugh Jackman plays Hugh Jackman in Kate and Leopold, as in a handsome, charismatic Brit whos able to charm the pants of anyone. But as mentioned earlier, Woody Allen steals the show from anyone of these guys and unfortunately thats not really saying plenty. They are now part of the classic Woody Allen set-ups, but without any of the crutches that he used to afford his co-stars.

Allen lingers on the comedy in scenes instead of propelling the story from point A to point B. Hes no longer interested in building on his characters and their ardent relationships as much as he is interested in feeding off the sparks from their flintlock interactions, just to find something funny out of anything. He directs through his script and more pointedly, the dialogue and actions by building on our morbid fascination with his self-destructive charm act.

Londons a full fledged character here and its even more pronounced this time as its idiosyncrasies become an obstacle for the conspicuously coarse Allen and his young, nubile protagonist in the world of constipated British high society that only a New Yorker could have possibly envisioned. Even while saying nothing worth saying in particular, Allen shares an inside joke with the audience about generational gaps and aging, possibly about his uninteresting interest in the lives of younger, affluent people and the extreme moral ambiguities they face.

2/5

(Woody Allen is a comedy stalwart that can never be successfully imitated - not even by himself)
justindeimen
 


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