Watching all of Woody Allen's films in order: Scoop (2006)

Then Scoop went unreleased theatrically in the UK as almost every subsequent review of Cassandra’s Dream and Vicky Christina Barcelona seemed to mention. There didn’t seem to be a particular reason for it other than a lack of imagination from distributors. They weren’t sure how to package a comedy thriller with supernatural overtones perhaps, despite the fact it stars Scarlett Johansson and the bloke who plays Wolverine and has a range of recognisable British actors in cameo roles, beautifully shot in our own country and it’s worth adding part financed by us through BBC Films.

The only reason I can think of is a certain nervousness still about putting out a film starring Woody himself, but even that doesn’t make sense since Anything Else at least graced the art houses. It certainly reviewed well throughout the rest of the world. The film belatedly turned up on BBC Two in 2009 at about the time Vicky Christina Barcelona was on release and a quick Twitter-check afterward suggested that people enjoyed it and a few even expressed a surprise that the film hadn’t graced the cinemas, wondering why they hadn’t heard of it before.

The upshot of all that was that after keeping an eye on the online shopping websites I managed to procure a Region Two copy through CD-WOW in 2007. On that occasion I said:
”Having obviously lived with the city for a while, Allen spends far less time here presenting a tourist view of London at least in terms of exteriors with only The Royal Albert Hall returning to create a thematic connection with the earlier film. It’s certainly an example of old fashioned film making with scenes and shots which run for far longer than contemporary audiences are used to in a comedy, with perfectly planned tracking shots and push ins -- I don’t think he uses a steady cam or hand held at all.”
That’s me. Always looking at the technical achievements.

Now One of the problems with writing again about these films for which I’ve already posted a review, is that all of the mental notes I’ve taken whilst watching again have already been addressed. My previous post on the subject has already articulated everything I might have wanted to say, other than noticing a visual callback to Manhattan Murder Mystery in Woody’s card shtick during the poker scene and how many of his character’s catchphrases are repeated from Broadway Danny Rose.

It’s a more assured piece of work than Match Point. He’s back in the familiar territory of two New Yorkers against the world. He’s not having to work with a different vernacular for much of the duration with cultural references that are within his comfort zone (“I was born into the Hebrew persuasion, but when I got older I converted to narcissism”). The film is looser, more relaxed, more watchable. It lacks depth of some of his nineties work, but as a piece of feel good comedy it works admirably. Certainly cheered me up.

The big surprise this time was to notice Romola Garai as Scarlett’s best friend. Since 2006, she’s taken a few high profile roles, most recently as Emma in a BBC tv adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and in Stephen Poliakoff’s underrated Glorious 39 and I think has the potential to be the next Kate Winslet or at least the British Johansson. She doesn’t have much to do here other than be Scarlett’s facilitator and sounding board (“I can get you into a club to meet Peter” / “Are you sure that’s what you want to do?”) but even then she’s luminous.

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