Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman

"The perfect man. The perfect story. The perfect murder".

Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex


Now that I've had my share of Japanese films which I absorbed like a sponge, it was time to revert to the usual Hollywood fare. What better way to break the cycle than with a Woody Allen movie? I've been a big fan of his films for the longest time. His past movies on relationships have always been a good showcase of the human psyche. I also like his sarcasm in delivering sharp witty dialogue mixed with some paranoid neurotic tones.

"Scoop" is the second movie that Woody Allen shot in England. His first venture was "Match Point" which alas I haven't watched yet. Briefly the plot is - an American journalism student is in London, staying with her British friend. Through some fluke, while the 'victim' of a trick being performed by a magician, she encounters the ghost of a dead reporter. He has a scoop for her regarding a serial killer case. Soon enough, she with the magician in tow start stalking their prime suspect, who just happens to be an aristocrat. The rest is pretty predictable. Girl falls in love with aristocrat, magician is skeptical as usual, clues point to aristocrat as the guilty party. Blah blah blah till the film ends in a quirky fashion just the way it started with some ghost story scene.

Scarlett Johansson tries her best to essay a role worthy of a Woody Allen film. She delivers her dialogue in a fast pace pattern most of his characters are famous for. Sad to say, she fails miserably. I don't know maybe she is still too young or she isn't as talented as most people tend to think. It just didn't seem right to me. There were some scenes where she was trying too hard so she came across as awkward. I heard she performed quite well in "Match Point" so I was surprised at her mediocre acting in this film.

Hugh Jackman aside from looking very aristocratic delivered his lines quite eloquently. Tall and quite a sight for sore eyes, this guy really knows his stuff. Well trained in both the theater and in films, he is a delight to watch. I believe that these leading men roles in romantic comedies (such as "Kate and Leopold") fits him like a hand in a glove. But I didn't see much chemistry between him and Scarlett Johansson. Maybe it is because she looks quite young for him so the pairing wasn't too convincing.

Woody Allen has visibly aged, it seems he has toned down quite a bit as far as being the neurotic guy who questions everything goes. His comedic timing though is still top notch. In this film he doesn't delve into his long spiels about life, love or some existential stuff that always clouds his character's mind. Here he is just a magician helping a girl find the truth behind a story so she can score a good scoop. Fair enough, sometimes it is good to just watch a Woody Allen film without being bombarded with witty unanswerable questions regarding life.

Nice shots of the English countryside, Hugh Jackman's effortless acting, a whimsical "Swan Lake" music during some scenes as well as a few scenes which deserve a chuckle or two are some of the 'good' points of this film. The story line though is quite lame. I did expect a lot more. But then I haven't really liked any of Woody Allen's films since 2000 expect for "Anything Else". But I will still remain one of his biggest fans and suffice it to say, I will keep watching his movies as long as he makes them.
Enough said!

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