Last night I watched Match Point, Woody Allen's most recent feature. Lauded (correctly, I believe) it was a slow moving "high class potboiler" which covered a large spanse of time without omitting realistic intracacies or overbearing the viewer with information. In short, it was very, very clean, and very suprising--absolutely one of the best thriller's I've ever seen, and doubtless one of Woody Allen's best films to date. The last 45 minutes (about 1/3 the length of the whole film) made my skin crawl, and I couldn't help moaning. Not from agony but from...well...you should just see it. I've never seen a film that was at once so difficult to watch (in the final segments) but at the same time absolutely impossible to turn away from. Match Point makes Richard Linklater's Tape look like some peanuts on the floor of the world's scuzziest dive bar getting trompled and covered in vomit.
Woody Allen's made a lot of work, but I think this was a really successful step out of the box for him, but not too far out, which seemed to be the secret. All the markings of a usual Allen classic were there: wealthy protragonists, the backdrop of a gorgeous city, jazz, big band, opera, russian lit, raquets & balls, an emphasis on sex, repeated "socializing over the dinner table" scenes, threads of afterthoughts and commentary on the narrative or nature of the characters. The big difference, however, was that the commentary in this movie didn't come from the mind of Woody Allen (or the mouth's of his characters) nearly as much as it came from the mind of the viewer without trivializing anything.
Match Point:All other Woody Allen movies::Reading a novel out loud:listening to the (most likely abridged) book-on-tape.
Another large difference to note is that Allen has never told the story of Match Point before. It was highly unpredictable and because, as per the norm in suspensefull thrillers about the upper class, the narrative unfolded slowly, with an even pace throughout. Extraordinarily, however, it unfolded with very little pretense that anything bad was going to happen until it actually did.
I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say, the end left me breathless (literally gasping) with steam coming out my ears and nose (figuratively). It's a marvelous, understated, [SEXY,] masterful work--not to be missed by the avid film viewer!!! Or the not-avid film viewer for that matter.
I'm so glad WA has made a film that put him back into the public rank of Finest Filmmakers of All Time.
imdb bits & pieces: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416320/