Magic In The Moonlight”, another New Film from Woody Allen. Yeah…

Magic in the moonlight.

Mag­ic in the moonlight.

The lead sin­gle off the sec­ond, best and alas last album from Girls Father, Son and Holy Ghost was called “Vom­it” (reviewed ear­li­er here). The title refers to a Bible sto­ry where a thief’s need to return to the scene of his crime is com­pared to a dog’s com­pul­sion to exam­ine its own vomit.

This seems to be the only pos­si­ble expla­na­tion as to why it is that Woody Allen keeps going back to make yet anoth­er film. It would all make sense if the rea­son he were in such a hur­ry to pro­duce a new film every year was because the last few had been so disappointing.

That’s what made his last film, Blue Jas­mine (reviewed ear­li­er here) so refresh­ing. It sug­gest­ed the begin­ning of a new phase. His lat­est, Mag­ic in the Moon­light is sad­ly more of the same, and we’re back where we were.

Vicky Christine Barcelona.

Vicky Cristi­na Barcelona.

Since his last gen­uine­ly fun­ny com­e­dy, Bul­lets Over Broad­way in 1994 Allen has made 20 films. That’s one a year. And the only two that mer­it­ed watch­ing all the way through were Sweet and Low­down in 1999 and Match Point in 2005 – Vicky Cristi­na Barcelona (’08) doesn’t count. You could film Javier Bar­dem, Scar­lett Johans­son and Pene­lope Cruz pair­ing their toe­nails and it would still be electrifying.

What you think of his lat­est film will depend on whether you’re old enough to remem­ber how excit­ing the prospect of a new Woody Allen film used to be.

Annie Hall (’77), Man­hat­tan (‘79), Zelig (’83), The Pur­ple Rose Of Cairo (’85) and Crimes and Mis­de­meanors (’89) are all seri­ous, sub­stan­tial, sig­nif­i­cant films. And they’re fun­ny. The last time I laughed dur­ing a Woody Allen film was Bul­lets Over Broad­way.

It’s not as if they’ve become more seri­ous. On the con­trary, they’re ever lighter and more and more insub­stan­tial. And they’re less fun­ny. All of the themes that were once explored, painful­ly, are now breezi­ly ticked off, as if on some sort of exis­ten­tial shop­ping list.

Poor old Colin Firth and Emma Stone doing their best.

Poor old Col­in Firth and Emma Stone in “Mag­ic in the Moon­light” doing their best.

Iron­i­cal­ly, the only thing that make his films watch­able these days are the cast he still man­ages to attract. Every­body used to fall over them­selves to be in the new Woody Allen film because the scripts were so good. They still do. But the scripts are so slop­pi­ly cob­bled togeth­er these days that were it not for their stel­lar casts, they’d be unwatchable.

None of which will both­er you if all you are look­ing for is a poor man’s Down­town to watch on your new iPhone, as you keep your eye on Strict­ly leaf­ing through the Sun­day papers as you check your mes­sages. As ever the cast are all exem­plary, con­sid­er­ing. But for the rest of us, Mag­ic in the Moon­light makes for decid­ed­ly depress­ing viewing.

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