Tuesday, May 20, 2014


FADING GIGOLO is the best Woody Allen movie he never made. It's like Woody Allen 2.0. The jazz that opens the flick and fills the soundtrack is more up to date, the schmaltz is maybe a little more contemporarily schmaltzy, the humor double tracked in a way Woody's often is but with lower bass notes, not all treble.

Okay, I'm getting carried away with that. And if you still feel queasy about Allen you probably won't like this flick. Because his acting in it is as Allen-y as ever, which means including making sexual innuendo, and not so innuendo, jokes. But John Torturro gets the same kind of outstanding performances from his cast that Allen usually gets. And the story, for my taste, never stopped engaging me, making me want to see what happens next, even when it made me squirm a little.

I know people who weren't crazy about it, but I'm still feeling totally satisfied, can't stop smiling or humming one of the tunes from it. Like Woody's best romantic comedies, there's a kind of fantasy version of New York City that features as one of the characters, only Torturro updates that to a degree as well. But also, rather than making me miss my youthful romantic adventures, FADING GIGOLO made me savor the memories and be oh so grateful for all of them.

Sharon Stone [full disclosure, a good friend for many decades though we haven't talked in years] deserves a best supporting actor for her performance, an incredible combination of intelligence, poignancy, irony, reality and humor. So does Vanessa Paradis. But her performance is sort of the flip side of Stone's. Though Paradis' character seems deeper on the surface, they both go way down in their portrayals of women with a more tender vulnerability than even they know.

Torturro makes up for those TRANSFORMER movies, or whatever they are, and other telegraphed performances with the best performance of his career I think. And he wrote and directed this sucker too! Total tour de force as far as I'm concerned. And worth every frame (I didn't even mention the always entertaining, funny and pleasure to watch Sofia Vergara, or Liev Shreiber in a two dimensional role that he fleshes out with flashes of depth).

And Woody himself is as funny as ever, making me wonder if he didn't write his own lines or at least improvise them. Anyway, for me, it was a delightful evening at the movies, and to my surprise there was a nice sized audience—of mostly women who looked to be in their forties, one of them saying as she left with her friend, "I need a plumber."  You'll have to see the movie to get the joke, or maybe she wasn't joking.

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