• Manhattan Murder Mystery

Blue Jasmine, the latest work by Woody Allen, hit theaters this week, and Ben Sachs has a typically insightful review in the paper and online. As I’m writing this, I’ve yet to see the movie, but I share many of Sachs’s views of Allen and his current output. The success of so much of his recent work relates to the strength of his cast, and I often find myself taken with a particular performance while disliking the film as a whole. For example, I loved Owen Wilson’s turn as Allen’s surrogate in Midnight in Paris—Wilson, an expert comedic actor in his own right, channels Allen’s persona while simultaneously critiquing and reinventing it—but found the movie itself to be trite, essentially one giant game of bingo for people who can remember their 12th-grade English class.

My taste for Allen’s work is generally contingent upon whichever mood the director happened to be in while making the film. The moral superiority he exhibits in films like Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, and others leaves me cold, so I generally prefer the rare works in which he operates outside of his immediate milieu, or when he isn’t afraid to make himself the butt of the joke. (Of course, this means I generally prefer the films in which he doesn’t play a major character, which doesn’t leave me a whole lot of options!) You can catch my five favorite after the jump.