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?
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.