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Seventy-One Candles

Seventy-One Candles

Really? All that’s coming out this week are The Nativity Story, Turistas, and 10 Items or Less? Huh. Oscar season, this? In any case, there’s other good news in the world of film, something we can all celebrate: Happy Birthday, Woody Allen! Yes, that tireless workhorse, whose only seeming competition in the amount of output (in terms of American filmmakers) just passed on last week, is turning 71 years old. I’m sure for Woody, a birthday is less a celebration than a painful peek into the abyss of his own mortality (just a guess!), so we’ll do the rejoicing for him.

So everybody put aside your attacks and facile observations of the master’s diminishing returns—this is a time to be thankful Allen is still letting his undying neuroses fuel his nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, and to hope it never has to come to an end. Being one of the few critics who seemed to unreservedly enjoy the goofy inconsequence of Scoop, as well as an admirer of the finely modulated genre mechanics and transparent misanthropics of Match Point, I find it hard to believe that this could really be called a valley in his career. Not feeling the need to further regurgitate all the defenses I’ve written in the past regarding Allen’s placement as an essential American artist, his utter control over the temperaments over an entire generation of film writers and watchers, and the endlessly watchable body of work he continues to add to with stunning adeptness, I’ll just leave these birthday wishes with an image from the set of his latest film, in which he’s directing Ewan McGregor. 2006 might have been DOA, but at least there’s something to look forward to in 2007.

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