SHADOWS AND FOG (WOODY ALLEN)


While SHADOWS AND FOG is a pretty good movie, and uses the titular elements that channel old British mystery novels, German Expressionism and American Film Noir, it's the second Woody Allen comedy after RADIO DAYS where the characters and dialogue, while fast-paced and clever as usual, are just a second... or perhaps a mere moment... off. And in that, since Woody only narrated DAYS, it's the first where the man himself seems a few years too old to play the same "nebbish" character... It's like he's doing an imitation of himself, and kind of peters out in the process (after all it takes a lot of youthful energy to be so doomed and neurotic)...

His films usually have no empty spaces wherein one forgots what they're watching. Even his best work, from ANNIE HALL to CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, leave the viewer exhausted, if only from laughing or smiling (or thinking) too much.... FOG however sporadically loses touch within its own story and at times the actors seem directionless. And as strong and infectious Woody is a writer, sometimes his "guest stars" here seem to be desperately improvising (especially Johns Cusack and Malkovich... although they're also doing Woody impressions); on the other hand, the fact it's not as downright hilarious as his 1970's films also means it's that much more laid-back and subtle. Not a bad thing. Despite being about a killer on the loose, it's one of his most relaxing features. And Mia Farrow steals the show by not seeming like she's acting at all.

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