The comments that some critics have made about Woody Allen's latest movie sound like the business page excitement for a 5% gain in a stock that's still some 80% down for the decade. A sampling of the positive blurbs on Rotten Tomatoes shows that Anything Else looks best when compared to Allen's recent movies: "Allen's best movie in years," "a return to the Allen of old", "a very welcome sense that Allen is back on track," "throwback to Allen's heyday," "nice rebound," etc.
But David Denby writing in the New Yorker is thinking long-term: "Waiting for Woody Allen?s movies to return to form has become steady work. It doesn?t help very much to say that Anything Else is better than his last two feature films, Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Hollywood Ending, because it?s still not very interesting."
Why do so many critics seem to have such an interest in tracking the minor ups and downs of Allen's career? I suppose because many of them believe that he's capable of much more, and they can't help looking for ways to explain his mediocre output or be hopeful for signs of recovery. His regular release schedule makes it easier to check his progress. Where most filmmakers lacking ideas might disappear for a time then spring back when we least expect it, Allen has managed to tread water.
Even Denby closes his review with this: "Woody Allen appears to be terrified of not working. But most of his recent movies lack the many, and the many different kinds of, good ideas that went into Bananas and Annie Hall and Crimes and Misdemeanors and Husbands and Wives.?
I'm glad a few people are enjoying Anything Else, but it's already starting to slip from my memory. I sold a while back, you see.