There was a solid 15 year stretch, when I would never miss a Woody Allen release. In fact, between the period of 1986-2000, the Woodman was the sole director of 16 different features. I visited the theater for 8 of them, and caught the other half upon their video debut. Most of them were, at least, good, and a select few were downright great(“Hannah and Her Sisters”, “Crimes and Misdemeanors”). However, by the time I bought my ticket for 2000’s “Small Time Crooks”(possibly my least favorite Allen film), Woody had lost me. I wasn’t very interested anymore, and I stopped watching. The quality had been in decline for a number of years, namely with tepid features like 1991’s “Shadows and Fog” and 1998’s “Celebrity”, but I hung in there. But “STC” began a five-year Allen hiatus for me. I finally went to a theater for 2005’s “Match Point”, and enjoyed it quite a bit. But, except for the marginally interesting “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”(which won Penelope Cruz a 2009 Best Supporting Actress Oscar)in 2008, I bypassed four of the next five Woody films. Then Allen powered back strong with 2011’s “Midnight in Paris”(a 2012 Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for Mr. Allen, and my favorite of his in decades). I skipped 2012’s “To Rome with Love”, but came back for 2013’s pretty damn wonderful “Blue Jasmine”(a 2014 Best Actress Oscar win for Cate Blanchett). So, Allen’s work has been mostly strong this decade, and it will be interesting to see how he fares with the major critics later this week for “Magic in the Moonlight”—his 43rd full length feature. Can Woody get me in a theater seat, with help from a cast that includes Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Jacki Weaver and Marcia Gay Harden? We aren’t far from finding out—“Magic in the Moonlight” arrives on U.S. screens on July 25th.
Woody’s July “Magic”?