Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

26 October 2014

Magic in the Moonlight

Well, this is three Woody Allen pictures in a row that I didn't like. I don't really know what to do about it. I'm going to keep seeing them when they come out, obviously, but I think the old Woody Allen magic is mostly gone.

It is more complicated than that. The script for Magic in the Moonlight is actually ok. It's clever and quite funny with a central puzzle that I didn't actually figure out until the film's end. Colin Firth doesn't have any chemistry with his co-star Emma Stone, but he is funny enough as the central Woody character, neurotic and depressive and misanthropic, and the rest of the film's actors are delightful, particularly Hamish Linklater as an absurd, besotted multimillionaire and Eileen Atkins as Firth's wise aunt.

But the exposition is clunky. And the filmmaking (like Blue Jasmine's) is amateurish. Awkward shot/reverse-shot cuts, strange non sequitur sequences that should've been edited out, stilted transitions, two-dimensional characters, lazy scripting.

There is a fabulous sequence with Eileen Atkins – truly great in the film's best performance – where she tricks Colin Firth near the film's end. The writing sparkles and Atkins shines. This scene comes near the movie's end, so the overall impression with which one leaves is pleasant and delightful (the geriatric audience with which I saw the movie actually applauded), but for me it was way too little too late.

This is where I am with Woody Allen, I think. His ideas are good. The jokes are still quite funny. But putting it all together just doesn't work anymore. Someone else should be filming his scripts. I'm afraid he's lost his touch.
Earlier Allen:
2013 - Blue Jasmine
2006 - Scoop