A Rainy Day in New York

The name Woody Allen means many things to people. The writer and director of classic comedies including ‘Annie Hall’, ‘Manhattan’ has gained him admirers. His controversial private life saw him become a Hollywood pariah. Long delayed due to the latter, ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ is an enjoyable addition to his cinematic catalogue. A breezy romantic comedy in his own unique style showing his story-telling skills are still strong after captivating fans for decades.

When learning his girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) is travelling to Manhattan to interview film director Roland Pollard (Live Schreiber), Gatsby (Timothee Chalamet) plans a romantic weekend. Whilst having the opportunity to visit his New York based parents, Gatsby’s plans soon unravel. Ashleigh is invited to a special movie screening where Gatsby finds himself entangled with actress Chan (Selena Gomez) who bewitches him with her charms. The romantic weekend away turns into one of discovery for the lovebirds in ways they couldn’t have imagined.

While it isn’t top-drawer Allen, ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ is still engaging. Yet another love-letter to New York, the cinematography adds to his character’s emotions. Without realising it, Ashleigh and Gatsby are on two different paths with the weekend forcing them to reflect on their lives. Gatsby’s dislike for the trappings of extreme wealth in particular unearths long buried secrets giving him a new life perspective.

As with any Allen movie, ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ explores how coincidence and unexpected circumstances can change others. Well conveyed by a solid cast who manage to handle Allen’s waspish dialogue with ease. It isn’t a total laugh-fest as some of his earlier work, but Allen manages to bring a light touch making for consistently amusing viewing.

Whatever scandals plague him in his personal life, Woody Allen’s ability to craft a watchable tale is still seen. ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ sits somewhere in the mid-range of his output. For someone who has made dozens of films over decades, that’s a decent effort. His films are always interesting viewing with his style of film-making as enticing as New York’s towering buildings.

Rating out of 10: 6


Annabelle Comes Home

Third time is usually the charm with sequels, although in ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ it isn’t. Another in the strangely popular ‘Annabelle’ series and part of the ‘Conjuring universe’ of films, this entry adds up to very little. Made on a miniscule budget while pursuing maximum box office dollars, its’ cheapness is evident. Akin to a tired mechanical carnival ride that’s seen better days, ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ creaks along with mundane predictability until its foregone conclusion.

When respected Demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren go away on a case, they hire babysitter Mary (Madison Iseman) to look after their young daughter Judy (McKenna Grace). Before Mary invites her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) over, the Warrens warn her to never enter their artefacts room containing a plethora of supernatural items such as possessed doll Annabelle’. A potential night of peace is swiftly shattered when Annabelle escapes, unleashing the evil spirits the room holds. Mary, Judy and Daniela face a night of unholy terror as demons wreak havoc from the grave.

‘Annabelle Comes Home’ is pure lazy film-making. Having a bunch of ghosts that could potentially spin-off into their own films, this entry plays like an extended commercial. There’s little sense of ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ being its own entity, just a highlights package of what may come. What’s left is an endless series of jump-scares, loud music and bad acting. When the performances are scarier than the spectral spirits, you know something is amiss.

Directed by Gary Dauberman, ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ frequently ups the boredom factor. Barely any genuine tension is generated as one contrived situation is placed upon the other. Dauberman fails to reveal any directorial skills, clumsily handling the already threadbare and predictable material like an amateur. The CGI isn’t anything seen before with the ‘Conjuring Universe’ apparently filled with ghosts with similar looks and doing the same things.

When a film’s conclusion comes a merciful relief more than the trauma its characters face, you know it’s in trouble. ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ arthritically draws on the horror well with barely any enthusiasm. Imagining another entry in the ‘Annabelle’ franchise conures its own brand of horror with this third outing evident that Annabelle’s wicked dolly ways are finally on the wane.

Rating out of 10: 1