The Third Leader: Late blooming

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The Independent Online

Bad notice time again, I'm afraid. The knives, plus the odd rocket launcher, are out for Woody Allen's latest, Scoop, a homage to murder, mystery, London, journalism, and as has been increasingly the case, himself. One of the kinder headlines: "The dead guy is film's best actor".

Ah, well. As we know, criticism has a purpose, or even more of us would have gone to The Da Vinci Code. Still, it's a pity the inky trade couldn't have given late Allen a fillip, although you may think stealing Waugh's title is pushing it a bit. A trick missed, too, I should say, in not hanging around here in the Leader Department, soaking up the energy and vibes.

Much of the unenthusiasm concentrates on Woody's age, and its effect on his performance: "The incessant whining that was funny when he was in his thirties and trying to get laid, now sounds like the unmodulated hiss of air escaping from a tyre ... being a loser in your seventies - even a lovable one - isn't funny. It's just kind of pathetic," represents a refrain that moves on to the familiar theme of the trickling of inspiration and the comfort of repetition that affects the artist in autumn. But it needn't be that way: Goethe, for example, didn't finish Faust until he was 81 (but he was a slow writer). Cervantes and Colonel Sanders were also getting on. And now, I see, Cher is auctioning off 700 items from her Malibu home, so, at the age of 60, she can start redecorating all over again. In Tibetan-Moroccan style. An example to Woody, and to us all.