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Volume 34
Issue 05
 
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Woody Allen re-re-invents himself as a straight man in Match Point
Woody Allen re-re-invents himself as a straight man in Match Point
by Derich Mantonela - SGN A&E Writer

It's conventional wisdom to say, of "Match Point," that if we didn't see Woody Allen's name in the credits as writer and director, we never "woody-a thunkit."

Witness the relatively straightforward narrative, devoid of Jews, devoid of silly, snappy one-liners, devoid of Allen (or a surrogate) himself, imposing upon us his "professional neurotic" schtick, devoid, even, of Manhattan, with cool, upperclass London in its stead.

"Match Point" harkens back decades ago to his ultra-serious marital breakup homage to Ingmar Bergman, "Interiors," but thankfully isn't quite as ponderously serious as that.

Obviously taken with upper-crust Londoners and their breezily privileged and moneyed lifestyle, Allen must have been spending a lot of his time over there lately, and, while being wined and dined, evidently ended up finally figuring out that he's not one of them nor will he ever be accepted as one of them. Snobbery will out.

His revenge is "Match Point," in which he gets to revel in all that glitzy, old-money/new-money splendor of deflowered Empire while at the same time decrying its superficiality, self-aggrandizing machinations, snootiness, and downright cruelty.

Furthermore, "Match Point" has one of the most shocking, depressing endings you'll see this side of Michael Haneke.

Mr. Allen's body of work is clearly subject to change of direction, and that was, many of us believe, way overdue.

As a postscript, this is to wonder out loud why Richard Roeper, the Chicago Sun-Times film reviewer, in one of his "Ebert & Roeper" TV shows, recently singled out one of "Match Point's" actresses, Scarlett Johansson, for special criticism, categorizing her work as shallow and amateurish in comparison to the film's other actresses, and suggesting that her body of work is vastly overrated.

This was quite apart from his analysis of the film itself, and seemed designed to personally belittle and devalue Ms. Johansson's talent and career.

One wonders if the actress refused him an interview (or whatever) and this is his way of getting back at her? Or that he perceived her to "dis" him in some capacity?

For the record, I consider Johansson to be one of the best young actresses to come along in decades, and I've compared her youthful career to that of Lauren Bacall's. She's also chosen her roles well, with only one unmitigated stinker in her repertoire so far (the mercifully already forgotten "The Island"). As for her performance in "Match Point," it's one of the very best aspects of one of this year's true "sleepers."

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