In big news that wouldn't have been news eight years ago, Woody Allen’s next movie will be shot in America, mostly San Francisco and New York. Many people say Woody Allen is one of the most American of great filmmakers, and that his comedies say a lot about the state of contemporary life in the United States, but all those people are French, and would likely name Jerry Lewis as first runner-up. Allen is intensely associated with New York, but of the eight movies he's directed since 2005, four of them were made in London, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona and last year's Midnight In Paris were set right where the titles said they’d be. (His latest is To Rome With Love, which opens in Italian theaters next week, and in the U.S. in June.) Allen’s late-life cinematic overseas tour wasn’t entirely his idea. But his much-publicized deal with DreamWorks resulted in a straight four-film string of turkeys, after which he found it increasingly hard to get domestic funding. In Europe, meanwhile, he’s still a revered, exotic cultural object, and it’s an honor to have him shooting his latest tax write-off in a given nation’s tourist centers.
This worked out really well for Allen: Some of his recent films, especially Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, earned him his best reviews in ages, and Midnight In Paris snagged him matching Academy Awards and Golden Globes for Best Original Screenplay, plus his strongest box-office take since the days when he could play love scenes with his own leading ladies without making it look as if grandpa had gone off his meds and lunged for the nurse. (The one New York film he made in this period, Whatever Works, mostly just stirred up the usual cavils that Allen has lost touch with his home town. For all we know, he’s not all that in touch with modern London, Paris, or Barcelona, either, but who’s going to hold that against him?) In turn, the $155 million worldwide gross on Midnight In Paris has made him bankable in the States again, thus making his homecoming possible. If that homecoming bombs, he still has standing offers from plenty of other foreign capitals.