I can think of few things that feel more quintessentially New York than watching a Woody Allen film among native New Yorkers in an indie theater in Soho. The politics are leftist, the literary references are instantly understood, and Woody’s anxious humor keeps the entire audience laughing throughout. Yet, with Woody’s recent string of films dedicated to various European capitals, it seems that he’s decided to impart his unique brand of New York neurosis on the rest of the world. No complaints here. Allen has an exceptional way of turning cities into exuberant, vital characters that have a subtle, yet unmistakable effect on the rest of the personalities in his stories.
Without having to leave my seat, I was transported to a city I have visited and yet had not realized I treasured so much until I saw Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love. The soft light, the warm, textured sunflower and burnt orange facades, and the hysterical cultural gestures and characteristics had me smiling and laughing the whole time. Though critics have argued that the film is not one of Allen’s greatest and that you can’t complain since he’s getting old (a point that is completely ridiculous and irrelevant since Midnight in Paris came out only last year), I still feel that the escapist ride was thoroughly enjoyable and perfect for a summer Sunday. Performances by the stellar cast were right on key, with Allen’s own being my favorite next to Benigni (hilarious!), while the surrealist Fellini-esque nuances highlighted the filmmaker’s ode to Italian cinema.
To be fair, it wasn’t exactly Midnight in Paris, which so acutely portrayed the spirit of Paris and swept the audience off its feet with its feeling of nostalgia for the past, but that doesn’t mean To Rome with Love isn’t a good film in its own right. It’s hard to come off the heels of his most commercially and critically successful film in history, but I think this one managed just fine.
So if you’re looking to get out of the insane heat this weekend, might I suggest a quick visit to Rome via the Angelika Film Center? A landmark of its own, the Angelika is one of my favorite movie spots, with a broad selection of snacks and beverages, as well as a cafe area and an always solid selection of the latest indies. Forget Friday Date Night, I’m thinking Summer Movie Sundays will have to be strictly observed in this household.