Breaking news: Woody movie finally hits DVD.
Never one to rest on his laurels or be derailed by scandal, Woody Allen simply keeps on keeping on. On the heels of Cate Blanchett winning a Best Actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine, he released Magic In The Moonlight to, admittedly, shrugs. These days, that’s how it tends to go with Allen movies: success, plaudits, ignored.
Indeed, after his career-reinvigorating, Oscar-nominated Match Point (the first of his to-date three films with Scarlett Johansson), came Scoop; this being the first time it’s been available in the UK (except on import) demonstrates how dimly it was viewed. Denied a theatrical release, it snuck onto TV in 2009 (it’s BBC Films-funded) then disappeared, usually a sure indicator of an absolute stinker. Happily, it turns out to be nothing of the kind.
Johansson stars as Sondra, a bespectacled newshound awaiting her big break. When she takes part in The Great Splendini’s (Allen) magic show, she’s visited by the spirit of an investigative journalist (Ian McShane) who tips her off to the true identity of the Tarot Card Killer: businessman Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman).
Sondra and Splendini team up to entrap Lyman, in a bumbling bid to stop the slaying and give her career a boost. Can this charming man really be guilty of coldblooded murder? The closer Sondra gets, the more her doubts grow...
Perhaps a kneejerk reaction to the downbeat Match Point, Scoop – while covering similar territory (ambition, attraction, upper classes) – is a romp, pure and simple. Allen and Johansson are a great double-act, Jackman’s as charismatic as ever and, most importantly, it’s full-on funny, with a tremendous punchline of an ending.
So why the nine-year exile? Maybe it seemed Allen was following King Lear with King Ralph, who knows? In any case, its belated debut leaves just one Allen unavailable in the UK: 2002’s Hollywood Ending, which really is for completists only.