A Rainy Day in New York

This 2018 Woody Allen film was just released in Europe, but it may never have a theatrical release in the US (although maybe you can catch it on an airplane).  That’s too bad, because this is a sweet little film that deserves to find an audience.

Our hero, with the ridiculous name of Gatsby, decides to treat his girlfriend, Ashley, to a fabulous weekend in New York, where he grew up and where she has never been.  Ashley is enthusiastic, but first she needs to interview Famous Director for the college newspaper.  Then she will be ready to go on the town with Gatsby.

Well, that never happens.  Ashley is immediately swept away by a succession of rich and famous men, all of whom want to get into her pants.  Ashley, who may be an airhead but who is not stupid, figures out pretty quickly what is going on.  Each of these men is emotionally damaged in some way, and she figures that out pretty quickly too.  By the end of the movie, she’s still an airhead, but a slightly more street-savvy one.

Once Gatsby figures out that his girlfriend has dumped him, he spends time revisiting old haunts and trying to avoid people he doesn’t want to see.  He spends so much time complaining about phonies you begin to think Allen has chosen the wrong literary name for this character.  Fortunately, our hero finds his way out of Holden’s depressive spiral and reaches a modestly hopeful conclusion.  Catcher in the Rye – done right?

As is often the case with Woody Allen movies, there are a lot of enjoyable performances by excellent actors in smaller roles.  I particularly liked Diego Luna as a kind of Hispanic Errol Flynn.

And after watching 3 1/2 hours of bloated Martin Scorsese, I appreciated the fact that this movie came in at just over 90 minutes.  Allen figures out what story he wants to tell, then tells it.  Like him or not, he’s a pro.

This movie was not only set in New York, but filmed there too.  Who else but Allen would think to shoot scenes inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art?  And he’s right that the city, for all its size, is really a series of small neighborhoods.  All the same, I liked it better when the neighborhoods were places where people lived underneath roller coasters rather than the rarefied precincts of the Upper East Side.

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