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


Fifty Shades Freed

The ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ books and films were never considered high art. E.L. James’ writing was more akin to a down market Jackie Collins novel than Shakespeare. Nonetheless, the series became hugely popular among a particular demographic who couldn’t get enough of its adult antics. ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ is the last film in the series with its climax potentially offering merciful relief to many.

Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Grey (Dakota Johnson) are newly married and look forward to the future. Unfortunately their past catches up with them in the form of Anastasia’s former boss Jack (Eric Johnson). Still infatuated with Anastasia’s charms, Jack will do anything to destroy her new union. Death and emotional destruction await with both colluding to prevent a happy ending.

‘Fifty Shades Freed’ finally ends what has been a generally mediocre series. Whilst the locations and glossy look of the films have been suitably spectacular, other facets have been left wanting. Chief among them have been the performances during which the actors wear a permanently embarrassed look throughout. ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ gives them little depth with Christian and Anastasia a terminally uninteresting couple consistently generating less sizzle and more fizzle.

James Foley deserves kudos for turning E.L. James’ crude prose into something watchable with his fair direction. The light thrills, overwrought shenanigans and romance are mechanically whipped into shape against the soft-rock soundtrack. Hopefully all involved enjoyed the money made from this series as the lack of genuine enthusiasm shown on screen highlights how ‘memorable’ the franchise has been.

Although looking expensive, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ is anchored by cheap plotting and miniscule acting. These type of movies have admirers who happily go onto the next big screen fad requiring a modicum of thought. The best thing one can say about ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ is that the appearance of its end credits draws smiles missing from its previous two hours.

Rating out of 10: 1