Thursday, June 21, 2012

In Theaters: "To Rome with Love"

Woody Allen’s world tour continues in his new comedy To Rome With Love, which tells four intermingling stories, all set in the title city. Although they’re told concurrently, rather than one at a time, it is a film reminiscent of omnibus movies like Twilight Zone and Four Rooms—not in terms of subject matter, but of quality. In those films (and many other collaborative efforts), it seems almost inevitable that two of the directors will nail it and two will miss wildly, resulting in two great stories and two poor ones. That’s what happens here—but they’re all from the same director. Over the past decade or so, Allen has made several very good films, and some that were placeholders, marking time on his prolific once-a-year schedule until the next great one. Oddly, in To Rome, both Allens show up.

In Theaters: "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"

Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is being promoted as a human comedy about the apocalypse, which is probably a wise move, and there is plenty of that flavor in it. However, that makes it sound like a one-joke premise, a goof, some kind of light comic riff on Melancholia or 4:44 Last Day on Earth. But this is a movie that takes its premise as seriously as those dour pictures did, and works outward from there. It’s a funny movie, yet it keeps the darkness right under the surface, for easy access.