Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Wonder Wheel


This will probably be Woody Allen’s last or next-to-last movie (A Rainy Day in New York is in the can, but there is some question as to whether it will ever be released) since most of the people in Hollywood have belatedly decided to believe his daughter who claims he groped her, once, and so will never work with him again. They even donated his tainted money to charities. I guess any review must face that, and the reviewer must declare a side. I believe Woody. There are many reasons why, but the chief one is that pedophiles don’t do it just once. I mean, I don’t think anyone has ever decided “Hey, I think I’ll just grope a seven-year-old to see what it’s like.” You may disagree. It’s your right.

Back to the film. By my count Woody has made no less than ten and maybe as many as fifteen cinematic masterpieces. I mean, the kind of film where they just don’t get any better. That is out of a total of around 50 films, basically one every year since 1969. This is an amazing percentage. A great many more of his films are just very, very good. A few are ordinary, and one or two or three are not very good. I’m sad to say this one falls into that last category. The writing is verbose and not convincing, the acting by Jim Belushi and, yes, even Kate Winslet, is shrill and irritating. The story isn’t much.

There is one element that is so good that it almost makes it worthwhile to see this one: the production design. Santo Loquasto has created Coney Island in the early 1950s to the point where you can almost smell the cotton candy and pretzels and pizza. The color scheme by cinematographer Vittorio Storraro is perfect. I kept noticing the fanatical attention to detail. Just one example: If you are my age you will remember Dixie Cups. What you might not remember is the flat wooden spoons we used to eat the ice cream. It would have been so easy to use the plastic spoons we use these days, but not here. They found or made two wooden spoons. That is merely one small detail of thousands. It’s a shame that it all couldn’t have been used in a better movie.