This is a film by Woody Allen. I don’t like films by Woody Allen. I just wanted to make that clear before I went on to discuss “Scoop,” one of his more recent pictures playing at the Busan Cinematheque this weekend. I saw “Scoop” on the airplane, and in that context I suppose I appreciated it, if for no other reason than it helped pass the time on an excruciatingly uncomfortable long haul flight. But much like Allen’s other recent work, it’s trite and forgettable, and according to many of his own fans, a gross misrepresentation of the beloved writer-director.
While on a trip to London, aspiring journalist Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) is handed the scoop of a lifetime when the apparition of recently deceased investigative reporter Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) reveals to her the identity of the Tarot Card Killer, a menace currently threatening the streets of the city. Seeing this as a golden opportunity to advance her career, she is determined to blow the story wide open. However, when the target of her investigation, the aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman), turns out to be an exceedingly good-looking and wealthy gentleman, she can’t help but fall in love with him.
One of the things I don’t like about Woody Allen is how he invariably inserts himself front and center into his movies. He’s recently refrained from doing so, probably because in his old age he’s looking more and more like an albino skeleton; either that or he’s finally realized how hackneyed it is to have a neurotic Jew from New York appear in his films with no apparent purpose other than to make wisecracks. And if there was ever a superfluous role, it would be the one he wrote for himself in “Scoop.” (Even though he has a significant amount of screen time, note how I didn’t even bother to mention his character in the plot summary above).
Showing Sunday June 19 at 13:00
A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.
Also showing this weekend at the Busan Cinematheque is the Irish indie-musical “Once,” which dazzled critics back in 2007 and ended up taking home the Oscar for Best Original song.
When a Dublin street musician (Glen Hansard) is approached by a piano-playing flower girl (Marketa Irglova), the two quickly hit it off and teeter on the edge of falling in love as they set out to compose songs together. Constructed as a collection of music videos with bits of narrative thrown in between, “Once” isn’t captivating for its plot, but rather its unique rhythm and performances (musical, not acting, though both professional musicians Hansard and Irglova do a fine job). It’s a good film to bring your girlfriend on a date to, cute and charming in its own little way, but not one I’ve ever felt inclined to watch more than its title suggests.
Showing Sunday June 19 at 17:30
You can read more of Jacob's take on film on his blog, You'll Never Be Hungry Again
For more info on Busan Cinematheque, go here.