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In Defence of Woody Allen & His Latest Film



At the  end   of   a highly personalized   review  of Woody Allen’s latest  film A   Rainy Day In New York, the Hollywood Reporter asks  whether people will go to see Woody’s films  any more?  I don’t know  about others . But I will. 

I love Woody Allen’s cinema as much as I love blueberry  cake. When I go to  a confectionery  shop I don’t ask about the  bedroom activities  of the baker. This is  not to say  that I disbelieve  the charges  of sexual indiscretion against the  super-prolific director. For all we know, they may be true.But how does that affect Woody’s work,if at 84, he  continues  to craft compelling curios, vivid  vignettes  of life from the America suburbia shot through lenses that exude the poetry  of the humdrum.

 Woody’s  latest film A Rainy Day In New York which  I  just had  the  privilege  of seeing, is as heady and intoxicating and exhilarating as  ever. It  steals you into its  lightly-illuminated world  of glib-talking sensualists who  cerebrate  on subjects as  widespread as cinema as a tool of  change  and  wives whose laughter desexualizes husbands….Who but Woody can show two  young attractive people kissing for  an amateur  film crew in a rain-splashed car when the girl, the spunky Selena Gomez ,complains that the  guy isn’t  giving tongue to the kiss.

 The shy  guy who finds it hard to kiss a girl whom he hardly knows  is Gatsby played by the upcoming and very happening Timothy Chalamet who  plays  the archetypal  nerdy intellectualized  but confused Woody Allen hero. 20 years ago Woody would have played Gatsby himself and  with a far more pronounced emotional curve. 

Chalamet , for all his boyish charms, has become  repetitive  with his perennial  little-boy-lost looks in  no time  at  all. The  only time he comes into his own  in A Rainy Day …  is  when he  sits down at the piano(can’t separate Chalamet from  the piano for too long  after  Call Me By Your Name) to play and sing  ‘Everything Happens  To Me’

Now, that’s magic! This wispy wondrous  little  film is filled with such moments  of glorious epiphany , as  Gatsby on a day in New York, waits for his girlfriend  Ash Leigh(Elle Faning) to  finish her interview with  an eccentric  director  Ronald Polard(Roman Polanski?)  played  with stoic arrogance by Live Schrieber.

As  Gatsby kills time, he meets various   women who may or may change the  course  of his life,depending on how we perceive Woody Allen’s philosophy of loose-limbed human relationships. The writer-director captures sly slices of  humour in  how seriously people take themselves when confronted  by situations that  confer undue  importance  on them.

A  Rainy Day  In New York may  not be among Woody’s  best works. Manhattan (1979)which was  located in  the same part of world, was  a far more ambitious and  satisfying search for salvation in New York  city. And yet  A Rainy Day In New York is  a juicy deep bite into the Big Apple.It teases and seduces our senses into a state of  semi-hypnotism .

To answer  the  original question. Would people see  Woody’s films after  the MeToo  allegations?  Of course they will. Would  visitors to the  World Trade Centre have stayed away after  9/11 if it had survived the attack?

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