Monday, July 16, 2012
Which brings me to FROM ROME WITH LOVE. I’ve lost track. I think it’s Allen’s 284th film.
First the good news: It’s amusing in spots. It looks pretty. Penelope Cruz’s dress. Judy Davis. Alec Baldwin. Woody Allen is in it but doesn’t play Allison Pill’s love interest.
Now for the bad news: It’s a slapdash series of vignettes. Most are one-joke premises that get replayed over and over. The payoffs all fizzle. And several are confusing.
At this point I should say SPOILER ALERT. But truthfully, what follows is a SPOILER HELPFUL BRIEFING. This may save you some time trying to figure out things when no attempt has been made to explain them.
These vignettes all seemingly start at the same time. But some unfold over the course of one day and others stretch over a week and I guess months. Yet Woody keeps cutting back and forth between them. Huh? There’s no continuity whatsoever. But that’s only a problem if you’re a filmmaker that cares whether your audience is tracking your story. I guess after you’ve made 43 movies you no longer have to concern yourself with that.
Alec Baldwin essentially has the role Bogart had in PLAY IT AGAIN SAM. I think once you’ve made 26 movies you are allowed to rehash old ideas instead of trying to conceive new ones. In the same way that the ghost of Bogart advised Woody Allen, Alec advises Jesse Eisenberg (who, by the way, plays the same smug character in every movie). Except Alec’s not always a ghost. Sometimes he’s real. And sometimes only Jesse can hear him while other times Ellen Page can hear him as well. Huh? Don’t bother trying to figure that out. After 37 movies the filmmaker doesn’t have to establish and follow any rules.
Roberto Benigni plays an average schmoe who walks out of his house one morning and is mobbed by the paparazzi. He can’t understand why. Neither can the audience. You keep waiting for it to be explained. Is he being mistaken for someone else? Every time they cut to another scene of him being mobbed (and there are like seven or eight of them – all the exact same) you’re trying to decipher just why. Don’t bother. It seems that once you make 41 movies you no longer have to justify any behavior or explain anything to the audience.
People aren’t laughing because they’re confused. Not important.
At what point do Academy members and WGA members stop rewarding Woody Allen for sloppy filmmaking? How many movies until he reaches that number?
I’m sure Woody Allen is laughing at all the voters. He obviously knows better. He knows when he’s cutting corners.
So if I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this picture despite some good moments, it’s because I’m the one who’s supposed to be laughing at Woody Allen comedies, not him.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM