Updated: Friday, 7th August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: To Rome With Love & The Apartment

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: To Rome With Love & The Apartment

By John Paul Shammas

Woody Allen’s latest film ‘To Rome With Love’ headlines Cornerhouse’s billing this week, alongside hitman-thriller ‘Killing Them Softly’, quasi-silent movie ‘Tabu’ and a screening of the classic ‘The Apartment’.

Review: To Rome With Love

Undoubtedly Woody Allen’s love-letters to New York, ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Manhattan’ are amongst his finest work. Behind the punchlines, there was a melancholic wisdom to his writing which, with time, has seen it’s stock rise as his later output failed to communicate anything new.

Audiences could certainly be forgiven for shrugging-off Allen’s recent films. The tone of his recent work, not matter how charming and consistently distinct, is marred by the glorious shadow of his work from the late 1970’s. Allen can still make us laugh, contemplate and weep, no doubt. But ultimately this has been an achievement manufactured from the regurgitation of previous work rather than the wondrous, sparkling, stylized originality that underpins ‘Annie Hall’.

Recently Woody Allen’s career has become a European-stopover-tour. Along the way he’s got it right with last year's Oscar-winning ‘Midnight In Paris’, but he’s also got it very, very wrong in the London-based ‘Cassandra’s Dream’. His new film however, ‘To Rome With Love’, is far more difficult to define in absolute terms.

The film, starring Allen himself alongside Jessie Eisenberg, Allison Pill, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page (and many others!) splinters it’s four narrative threads across the streets of Rome as the archetypal cast of Allen-esque neurotic pseudo-intellectuals struggle through their personal anxieties and their self-inflicted, ego-driven misdemeanors.

The ensemble cast stumble through a variety of outlandish scenarios, and while initially ‘To Rome With Love’ labors in setting the pace, as the bizarre stories develop it’s difficult to not be charmed. It may have a travel-log superficiality, but it’s loaded with enough gags to get away with it and be a worthwhile experience.

Review: The Apartment

Meanwhile, the Cornerhouse’s Matinee Classics series this coming Sunday offers a real gem with a screening of Billy Wilder’s flawless, bittersweet satirical comedy ‘The Apartment’. Wilder’s ‘Double Indemnity’ or ‘Sunset Boulevard’ from the 1940’s certainly represent his most iconic work, but there is far more to Wilder than a brooding film-noir drenched in cynicism.

‘The Apartment’ sees Jack Lemmon as C. C Baxter, a low-grade go-getting office worker who just wants to get ahead in life. He manages this by loaning out his apartment to his boss who wishes to carry out an affair in secret. Word spreads of Baxter’s willingness to bend over backwards to please his superiors, and quickly the situation spirals out of control.

Wilder’s cynicism that defines his early-era filmmaking is set to one side. ‘The Apartment’ is marinaded in classical Hollywood-isms: unyielding optimism, pathos and everything in-between. Spearheaded by a masterful performance from Jack Lemmon, ‘The Apartment’ is an integral part of the furniture as far as the comedy genre is concerned.

If you’re doing something this coming Sunday, cancel it and get to Cornerhouse. ‘The Apartment’ is essential.

For film schedules and everything else Cornerhouse has to offer, visit www.cornerhouse.org

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