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August 07, 2006

Getting the Scoop

On Friday night, David and I saw Scoop, the new Woody Allen movie (or should I say vehicle?), with our friend Angela. I'll begin by saying that it was a really fun movie. We all enjoyed watching it, even Angela, who normally doesn't like Woody Allen. It helps that Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman are both absolutely gorgeous.

But "fun" is about the most flattering adjective I have to describe the movie. It doesn't go much beyond that. The plot was absolutely preposterous. The phrase "deus ex machina" comes to mind, but unlike the traditional deus ex machina plot device, where the supernatural intervention occurs at the end, to resolve the story, Scoop begins with a supernatural intervention: Scarlett Johansson, a journalism student, is visited by the ghost of a recently-deceased star journalist who has been tipped off to the identity of the "Tarot Card Killer," a modern-day Jack the Ripper, by a fellow traveller on the boat across the River Styx. Johansson then inexplicably employs the help of Woody Allen, who plays a third-rate magician from Brooklyn, to help her get the scoop on the Tarot Card Killer and, in the process, ends up falling in love with the object of her investigation. She actually comes across somewhat tartily (I'm not sure if that is actually a word, but I feel justified in using it since the film is set in London), as we learn at the beginning that she has a history of letting her sexual desires get in the way of her journalistic pursuits. When it appears that Hugh Jackman may propose to her, she gives up her investigation of him, and Woody Allen takes over, finding the real dirt. I won't spoil the ending by saying exactly how, but Johannson's character does come through, providing a pretty satisfactory ending, but leaving many of the details of the murder mystery up to the audience to figure out.

This was the second Woddy Allen movie set among London's upper crust, but it wasn't as good as Match Point. It was definitely less dark and more fun, but ultimately less satisfying. I find it frustrating to watch movies that are set in London, because I have spent a lot of time there and I find that films always make the city seem a lot more glamorous than it actually is. The most eggregious example of this misrepresentation I can think of was Wimbledon. If you just go by what you see in the movies, you would think that the city is sparkling clean and that everyone there is wealthy. In my experience, it is a dirty, cramped, and expensive city where most people have a very low standard of living. In the U.S., it is pretty much assumed that, when you rent an apartment, it will come with a shower and a kitchen. Not so in London. My ex-boyfriend Erik spent a fortune to rent a room in a house with no kitchen -- he had the English equivalent of a bunsen burner in his room, but no refrigerator -- and no shower -- only a bathtub shared by everyone in the house! And that was in Cambridge, where rents are lower than in London.

Posted by eklanche at August 7, 2006 08:51 AM

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