From the Chicago Reader (November 17, 2000). — J.R.
Nowadays the line between journalism and publicity is often blurred, and one common, systematic method of blurring it is the movie junket. Generally a studio flies journalists to a location where a movie’s being shot or to a large city where it’s being previewed, puts them up at fancy hotels, then arranges a series of closely monitored interviews with the “talent,” most often the stars and the director. The journalists are expected to go home and write puff pieces about the movies that run in newspapers and magazines as either reportage or as a form of film “criticism.” If the journalists don’t oblige — and sometimes obliging entails not only favorable coverage but articles that emphasize what publicists want emphasized and suppress what they want suppressed — then the studios won’t invite them on future junkets.
There are probably more of these articles about new or forthcoming movies in newspapers and magazines than any other kind, and many entertainment writers — including plenty who double as film reviewers — make a profession out of these junkets. The stories that result are meant to be read as news rather than as promotion, and most newspaper editors seem to have few qualms about fostering this impression.… Read more »
This is the very first long review I ever published in the Chicago Reader. It was published in their March 13, 1987 issue, about five months before I moved to Chicago from Santa Barbara and started working as their regular film critic, and writing this piece was part of my audition for the job. (They commissioned two other pieces from me, neither of which they ran, as part of the same audition; both of these reviews — on Oliver Stone’s Platoon and on Bertrand Tavernier’s ‘Round Midnight — are now available on this site.)
This article has never previously appeared online, on the Reader’s website or anywhere else. It ran originally with the same black and white still reproduced here. Readers familiar with my essay, “Notes Toward the Devaluation of Woody Allen,” written about three years later, may notice that I borrowed a few passages in it from this review. My original title for this review, “Woody’n You,” was rejected by the Reader editors, who didn’t catch or dig the jazz reference. — J.R.
Directed and written by Woody Allen
With Seth Green, Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, and Diane Keaton.
It’s hard to think of a contemporary American filmmaker who is more universally admired than Woody Allen –- a fact that may say more about us than it says about Woody. … Read more »