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By Jordan Hiller




 


Match Point (2005)

Interview with Scarlett Johansson

Last February, the father of a longtime friend bought and delivered Annie Hall to myself as a gift. That was my first taste of authentic Woody Allen, having missed the boat maturing in the late 1990s, Allen's weakest period. I don't know, however, what is more disgraceful: not being proficient in Woody Allen as a film critic or as a Jew. Either way, I don't believe after seeing the frigid Match Point, a tale of deceit, lust, and murder, that I am any closer to fully appreciating his celebrated genius. Woody Allen is known primarily for three things: casting himself, neurotic Jewish humor, and New York stories. Match Point, a deadly serious film, revolves around a blue blood English Family in London, the tennis pro (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) that marries their daughter, and his affair with an American aspiring Actress (Scarlett Johansson). The only thing Jewish about the movie is that the prominently featured opera music sounds like chazanus. Some critics may try to decipher where Allen's fingerprints are found in the movie. Yes, there is an insightful exploration of the relationship and often subversive desires causing friction between husbands and wives, but so what? Plenty of movies do that and were not made by the opining Jewish maestro who talks with his hands. The truth is - and it is more than okay - Woody Allen has pulled a Houdini (another Jew). He directed the movie and chose to disappear inside of it. Maybe Allen was even sick of making Woody Allen movies (he has stayed out of a more of his recent work including Sweet and Lowdown and Melinda and Melinda). If there ever was a filmmaker who could fairly claim "been there done that" it's Woody Allen in reference to a Woody Allen movie. So forget that Match Point comes from the mind of Zelig and Take the Money and Run- it was his choice to be outshined by his work and allow him to do so.
 
Match Point is a clever diabolical yarn that builds tension and creates suspense as well as even the best of Hitchcock. Much like a Hitchcockian thriller, the story centers on a buxom blonde and the tangled web into which she is delivered. Meyers, a rather boring, stone faced actor ( a combination of Jude Law and Elijah Wood), slips into the role of a boring stone faced opportunist who is presented somewhat believably as the type of morally bankrupt person we may deal with everyday but on the surface seem perfectly acceptable. Johansson, who I am starting to realize has one acting style, does well as usual providing the second best reason not to have an affair right after Glen Close in Fatal Attraction.
 
What did stretch credulity a bit was the climatic murders. While everything leading up to them and everything flowing from them were in harmony with the realistic depiction of characters and emotions, murder doesn't seem to fit the pathological profile.
In the tradition of great writing, Woody Allen has an inspired running theme regarding the concept of luck and how luck, rather than skill, shifts the balance of our lives. The theme is not only articulated in the opening narration but in a stunning visual trick culminating in a chilling finale, where we are shown exactly how this plays out.
Has a new era begun for Woody Allen? One where he settles down and is comfortable enough to craft quiet European masterpieces like Match Point? Only if we're lucky.

 

 
Match Point Interview with Scarlett Johansson:
 
Q: How was the interview process with Woody Allen?
 
A: I didn't have time to meet him. I was cast a week before shooting. I think I first met him while I was getting make up.
 
Q: What is he like? Is he as eccentric as his reputation?
 
A: You can't listen to reputation. I've encountered directors who I thought would be compassionate who weren't and some who I thought wouldn't be, were...and it goes for actors too. You find many times that the reputation is not the case. Everyone says Woody Allen is arrogant or self-absorbed or whatever, but you couldn't find a warmer, more available person. He was always there. Always on set either doing rewrites in the script or, like, taking a nap. What he is...is he's shy.
 
Q: As an up and coming actress, what's your feeling about women in your business?
 
A: Women just get older and men age like fine cheese.or wine, whatever. It is much harder for actresses.  Just look at that movie Something' s Gotta Give - Jack Nicholson still has women falling over him and Diane Keaton takes off her shirt and everyone goes crazy. Men get better with age and women shrivel up..its tough.
 
Q: I read that your mother is Jewish and your father is Danish?
 
A: Yes.
 
Q: With the holiday season coming up, how do you plan on celebrating?
 
A: I'm just going to be with my family.
 
Q: But what do you celebrate, more Christmas or more Chanukah?
 
A: A little of both.
 
She is really not enjoying this line of questioning.I need to shut it down before I ruin the shidduch.
 
Q: Okay. Happy holidays.
 
A: You too.


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Please send all comments to Jordan Hiller at jtrick1@aol.com

 

Reviews by Jordan Hiller

Best of 2005 1995

Proof

Brokeback Mountain

Walk the Line

Match Point

Broken Flowers

The Constant Gardener

Crash

Protocols of Zion


Good Night and Good Luck

Everything is Illuminated

Wall

Red Eye

The Goebbels Experiment

The Island

Hustle & Flow

Cronicas

Batman Begins

House of "D"

Le Grand Role

The Ballad of Jack and Rose

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Million Dollar Baby

Assault on Precinct 13 (AP13)

A love song for Bobby Long

BEST FILMS of 1994

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Beyond the Sea

Hotel Rwanda

Spanglish

Sideways

Surviving Christmas

The Grudge

Vanity Fair

Door in the Floor

Before Sunset

Spider-Man 2

White Chicks


The Day After Tomorrow

Super Size Me

Godsend

Never Die Alone

Eternal Sunshine 

The Passion  

ALILA

Hiding and Seeking:  Faith and Tolerance after the 
Holocaust

Decryptage

The Ten Best Films of 1993 

The Statement

Big Fish

Hebrew Hammer

Forget Baghdad

The Missing

Master and Commander

Kill Bill

Trembling Before G-d

Girlhood

Veronica Guerin

Pieces of April

Wonderland

Bubba Ho-tep

Casa De Los Babys

Dummy

American Splendor

Gigli

The Holy Land

Return from India

The Shape of Things

City of Ghosts

Anger Management

Levity

The Guys

Assassination Tango

Gaudi Afternoon

Spun

Nowhere in Africa

Foreign Sister

Spider

L’chayim, Comrade Stalin
part 11

part 2

Chicago

Divine Intervention

The Pianist

Best films of 2002 1992

8 mile


Punch Drunk Love


Signs


Gaza Strip

The Kid Stays in the Picture

MIB II

Minority Report

Insomnia

Spider-Man

Spring Movie Preview 2002

Panic Room

The Oscar Preview 2002

Royal Tenenbaums

Harry Potter

The Man who Wasn't There

From Hell

Training Day

Hearts in Atlantis

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

the others

Planet of the apes

Jurassic Park III

A.I.

Shrek & Atlantis

The Mummy Returns

Enemy At the Gates

Heartbreakers

Exit Wounds

15 Minutes

You Can Count on Me

The Mexican

Down to Earth

Meet the Parents

EXTRA! THEATER THAT BANGS:
Golda's Balcony HERE

SPECIAL EDITION:
Tribeca FIlm Festival 2005

Opening Night Premiere of The Interpreter
 

Opening Day Press Conference
 

Hooligans

Little Peace of Mine

 Ushpizin
Looking for the Lost Voice
Slingshot

SPECIAL EDITION:
Tribeca FIlm Festival 2004

Photo Gallery HERE

Film Reviews:

Coffee and Cigarettes

Super Size Me


Cavedweller


The United States of Leland


Baadasssss!

SPECIAL EDITION:
Tribeca FIlm Festival 2003

Daily Coverage: HERE

Photo Gallery HERE


Film Reviews:

A Breach in the Wall

Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas

Paper Chasers


Resisting Paradise


MC5: A True Testimonial


Sweet Sixteen


The Shape of Things


Yossi and Jagger


Persona Non Grata



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