There once was a time when Woody Allen films were compared to the films of other directors. At first, he outright spoofed the works of Antonioni and Eisenstein, and then, as his artistic ambitions became more serious, he emulated the works of Bergman and Fellini. But lately, the primary reference point for Woody Allen films has been, well, other Woody Allen films. And nowhere is that more evident than in Scoop, a film that plays like a pastiche of several of his other works.
Because it stars Scarlett Johansson as an American who hobnobs with the British upper class, Scoop most obviously invites comparisons with Match Point—but where that film was deadly serious, this new film is a light-spirited lark. And because Johansson plays a journalism student who tries, in her own amateurish way, to learn the identity of a mysterious serial murderer called the Tarot Card Killer, this film is similar in spirit to one of Allen's earlier trifles, Manhattan Murder Mystery.
The comparisons certainly don't end there. Like Broadway Danny Rose, the new film features Allen himself as a character, in this case named Sid Waterman, who qualifies his sometimes blunt criticisms of other people with the words "and I say this with all due respect"; and also like that earlier film, the new one begins with men sitting around a table and reminiscing about one of their colleagues—in this case, a journalist named Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) who recently passed away.
Like Shadows and Fog, the new film plays with the idea that we can cheat death, for at least a little while, through the illusory power of magic. The first time we see Joe, he is on a ferry with the Grim Reaper and several other recently deceased people, crossing that dark river into ...1
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