Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1998. Sweetland Films, Magnolia Productions. Screenplay by Woody Allen. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. Produced by Jean Doumanian. Production Design by Santo Loquasto. Costume Design by Suzy Benzinger. Film Editing by Susan E. Morse.
Woody Allen has made a shallow film about shallow people, but hopefully the parade of famous faces who traverse the screen will keep you interested. Shot in gorgeous black and white by Academy Award-winner Sven Nykvist, it stars Kenneth Branagh as an entertainment columnist who wanders the streets of New York City from one celebrity party to another, experiencing the raging personalities and scintillating experiences that this particular society has to offer. On the other side of town, his ex-wife Judy Davis is making the transition from bookish high school teacher to snazzy television host (“I’ve become the kind of person I’ve always hated…but I’m happier”). Obviously intended to be a retread of La Dolce Vita, it doesn’t quite measure up because Fellini’s classic odyssey through Rome was bittersweet and magical, while Allen’s journey is only bitter. Famke Janssen stands out as Branagh’s too-trusting girlfriend, and Charlize Theron is striking as a paranoid supermodel. I can’t promise you’ll think much of it (the blow job jokes will wear thin on anybody), but you’ll enjoy the cast.