The Woody Allen Movie I'd Like to See

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I sometimes feel as if Woody Allen's become impossible to write about. There have been so many phases of his career, and so much strange behavior in his personal life, and people feel so intensely about all of it, that it often feels difficult to establish a critical consensus about any of his new work. Either it'll hit you in a sore spot or a sweet one, and you'll like it very much, or you won't like it at all, and it doesn't matter if anyone tells you different. Allen's become critic-proof, not in the way that crappy action movies like The Last Airbender are critic-proof, but in a much more fragmented way.


All of which is an extremely extended way of saying that I don't think his new movie—You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, which will be released in September—looks very good, but you, of course, may have a very different opinion:

For the record, my Woody Allen sweet spot rests in his written short fiction. I really do wish someone would do a movie or television show based on Kaiser Lupowitz, a private eye who does everything from solve God's murder to bust a ring of intellectual prostitutes and has been the subject of a play)—though I suppose there's an extent to which the HBO series Bored to Death is the gentler, less brainy inheritor of that particular concept. 

But I did like both Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona quite a bit. I tend to think that Allen's compass for drama got stronger as the magnetic poles on his sense of humor got crazed. I don't think there's a lot that looks terribly funny in You Will Meet's mockery of Gemma Jones (I cannot wait to get to her arc in the BBC show Spooks, by the way) or Naomi Watts here, and I don't remotely sympathize with Anthony Hopkins' or Josh Brolin's philanderers. There's something that smacks of moral unseriousness or moral irresponsibility in portraying women as fools for believing in love and fidelity and in portraying men as wise or authentic for believing in their rights to indulge themselves. In Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona there were consequences to those kind of indulgences.
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Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture writer with The Washington Post.

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