(US - 2014)
Written and directed by Woody Allen. Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Hardin, Hamish Linklater, Simon McBurney, Jacki Weaver, Catherine McCormack, Erica Leerhsen, Jeremy Shamos, Ute Lemper. (PG-13, 97 mins)
The annual visit from Woody Allen finds the great filmmaker firmly in "pleasant trifle" mode with MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT. A year after directing Cate Blanchett to an Oscar for the devastating BLUE JASMINE, Allen goes light and breezy in another attempt to recapture the unexpected blockbuster success of 2011's out-of-nowhere MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. MAGIC is certainly enjoyable but is yet another effort that falls squarely in the middle, along with other diverting-at-the-time-but-forgettable-after trifles like SCOOP (2006), the overrated VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (2008), WHATEVER WORKS (2009), and YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER (2010). Aside from the occasional MATCH POINT (2005) or BLUE JASMINE, Allen's work at this point more or less functions as comfort food, a reminder than even with the ever-shifting and unpredictable ways of cinematic finance and distribution, those Windsor font opening credits with the alphabetically-listed cast, accompanied by a scratchy old jazz or big band standard (in this case, Leo Reisman & His Orchestra's 1929 version of Cole Porter's "You Do Something to Me") are always there to remind us that some things haven't changed if Woody's still cranking them out year after year (incredibly, 1981 was the last year without a new Allen film). Even when he's coasting and repeating himself, a new Woody Allen movie is--almost, other than, say, 2012's TO ROME WITH LOVE, one of his worst films--always welcome.