Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"With all due respect..."

"Scoop," like "Match Point," involves Scarlett Johansson bounding around London, attracting dashing British men who refer to her or her body parts as "sensual." But it's a far, far better film, largely because of Woody Allen being in it, as stale and dated as many of his jokes may be. Allen's character, Waterman/"Splendini", has a non-sexual but nevertheless odd relationship to that of Scarlett Johansson's character, Sondra Pransky. Which is, he pretends, for reasons relevant to the plot, to be her father. He later decides that, in this ruse, she is his adopted daughter. Get it? Get it? The jokes about Woody Allen the man in a movie in which he as an actor has a relatively minor role for whatever reason make the whole thing work. I'm sure others would disagree, but there's something about throwing the Woody Allen Story into the mix that saves this movie from, well, romantic comedy.

While the movie is not explicity named after NYC's most unabashedly "Jappy" (I say that, of course, with all due respect) clothing chain, there are some undeniable gems for Woody's old audience, those of us whose city he abandoned. Sondra Pransky picks as her alias "Jade Julliard Spence," an obvious reference to the city's foremost music and finishing schools, respectively. And Pransky, a Brooklynite, delighted the audience at BAM whenever the character mentioned this affiliation. Not only because the sexiest woman in Hollywood was portraying one of our own, but because the ending is perhaps the greatest moment in Brooklyn power ever to hit the theaters. I will say no more, but if you have any association whatsoever with Brooklyn, you'll appreciate it.

Why did Woody make Scarlett a Brooklyn Jew? It's not an implausible identity for the actress, one who Jewlicious keeps reminding us is technically Jewish, but she could be so many things, why that? Since when are Brooklyn Jews seducing sons of men named "Lord Lyman"? It's a reverse Annie Hall, but with a twist: Johansson is, to put it mildly, not repulsive. What happened to the nebbish who grew up under the Cyclone in Coney Island? Woody Allen is the patron saint of Old Brooklyn, but why does he make his all-American girl a Brooklynite, not an Annie Hall? Sondra Pransky is to Alvy Singer what Israel is to the shtetl, or, in less political terms... can't quite think how to put it in less political terms, but this was "Annie Hall" with better politics but maybe not so much brilliance. An odd choice for Allen, who in all likelihood just thought making his bombshell a Brooklynite would be amusing. Which, for whatever reason, as lovely as my fellow Kings County residents may be, it is.

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