I’m not the biggest Woody Allen, fan but I don’t think I’ve missed a single one of his films in his long career…
For example, I enjoyed his earlier movies more than what came later. Movie like ANNIE HALL, BANANAS, EVERYTHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, MANHATTAN and BULLETS OVER BROADWAY.
After those, I kinda lost interest but I still watched them.
The turnaround came with Allen’s later films like VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA in 2008 and again with last year’s wistful MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, in which Allen did not appear. Instead he concentrated his talents strictly behind the camera.
Allen’s latest is called TO ROME WITH LOVE and it opens in Kansas City today.
Think of it as an all-star travelogue of the fabled Italian city.
With TO ROME WITH LOVE Woody offers a series of intercut but not interconnecting vignettes. In one he co-stars as a retired husband who, with his wife Judy Davis, is flying to Rome to meet the family of the Italian man their daughter is planning to marry.
And here we get the typical angst-ridden Woody we’ve come to love through the years—which, of course, some people just can’t seem to stomach.
There’s a segment with architect Alec Baldwin revisiting the ancient city with his friends, meeting up with admirer Jesse Eisenberg. Roberto Benigni is mistaken for a movie star and becomes an instant Paparazzi sensation. And we meet a funeral home owner with a magnificent operatic voice who can only express it while in the shower.
And of course, the newlyweds who get lost in the city.
It’s old-school Woody filmmaking all the way. Or in his own words (on film): "Life can be cruel and very unsatisfying."
Not to suggest that this film is unsatisfying, but it’s just not great. It’s average.
Again referring back to Woody’s words: "I was a little fast for mass appeal."
Rounding out his latest offering are Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Carol Alt and Greta Gerwig.
So get ready to delve into Woody’s latest foray of existential angst complete with greed, adultery, romance—and a grand tour of the eternal city.
My favorite Woodyism in the movie?
"I was never a Communist. I couldn’t even share a bathroom."
TO ROME WITH LOVE raises 2-1/2 out of 5 touristy fingers.
Catch JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES Friday mornings at 6:40 a.m. on KMBZ Am & Fm / Also anytime on Time-Warner Cable’s K.C. ON DEMAND, Channel 411 / And throughout Nebraska on NEBRASKA ON DEMAND, Channel 411.