The Woody Allen Collection

The Woody Allen Collection
The latest Woody box is a very mixed bag of films chronicling the Soon Yi years, from 1993’s Bullets Over Broadway to 2006’s Scoop. There’s no consistency of vision or quality here, as found in previous sets. Of the seven films, only Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite succeed entirely. The former features John Cusack as an insecure playwright who gets into bed with the mafia to launch his new play. Chazz Palminteri towers above the ensemble cast as a hit man-cum-story editor. The latter launched Mira Sorvino, who smartly portrays a ditzy hooker who’s also the blood mother of a boy adopted by Allen and Helena Bonham Carter. As Woody plays matchmaker for Sorvino, a Greek chorus does song-and-dance numbers to mirror the romantic comedy. In contrast, Celebrity falls flat, with Kenneth Branagh (of all people) playing a Woody-esque reporter chasing hot, famous women (Charlize Theron, Winona Ryder, Melanie Griffith) around Manhattan. Deconstructing Harry works in places, namely the hilarious "out of focus” Robin Williams bit, but is too bitter to be convincing as a romantic comedy. Similarly, Everyone Says I Love You succeeds until Edward Norton breaks into song every other scene. Inexplicably, the only non-’90s film, Scoop, is included here instead of the superior Sweet and Lowdown from 1999. Being Woody, there are no extra features on any disc, though the 1997 documentary of Allen’s European tour with his New Orleans Jazz Band is billed as a bonus. Despite being filmed by the respected documentarian Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA), "Wild Man Blues” amounts to a P.R. piece to counter all the negative press following the Soon Yi-Mia Farrow battle of the early ’90s. That said, Woodyheads will pick up this box out of loyalty. Everyone else will do fine selecting just a few titles. (Alliance)