Many have named Manhattan Woody Allen’s greatest film; some, the greatest film of all time. Allen himself was reportedly so disappointed with it that he attempted to convince United Artists to never allow it to see the light of day. The truth, as is often the case, can be found somewhere between these extremes.
There’s a famous scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector where our hero, searching for the mob boss who stole his elephant (don’t ask) has to fight his way from the lobby of a hotel to its top floor dispatching waves upon waves of bad guys along the way. It’s brilliant as one five-minute single-take action sequence, but can it sustain an entire movie?
An inadvertently vicious indictment of teenage empowerment, 17 Girls (17 filles) half-heartedly tries to portray its central characters – a group of high school girls who enter a so-called “pregnancy pact” – as budding feminist heroes, but undermines them with an endless stream of clichés, generalisations and one-dimensionality.
If you imagine Tintin as an elderly Jew and Snowy as a sassy, back-talking feline, and instead of going on dangerous adventures solving crimes they sit around discussing religion and philosophy at length, you’ll have something close to The Rabbi’s Cat.
By 1966, Woody Allen was already something of a star.
After a decade as a wildly successful comedy writer and performer, Allen had an Emmy nomination to his name as well as a best-selling stand-up comedy record and a reputation as one of the most influential members of New York’s burgeoning comedy club scene.
From the comfort of a house in a suburb of a major city in a Western nation, Iran can feel like a world away. Correspondents and embedded journalists and bureau chiefs and talking heads come to you in-studio and live via satellite to educate you about a country that, to them, is a character in an international political stage show. They inform you that Iran is a set of problems to be solved; an oppressive quagmire of religious fanaticism and anti-Western sentiment; a colossal desert, strategically important but otherwise uninteresting.