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Friday, April 15, 2016

CASSE-TÊTE CHINOIS / CHINESE PUZZLE (2013)

Writer/director Cédric Klapisch catches up on characters he’s been tracking since L’AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE/’02 and RUSSIAN DOLLS/’05 (neither seen here) in this too-cute-for-words Woody Allen wannabe. Think ANNIE HALL/’77 with a downtown vibe in for the Upper West Side. (And a multi-ethnic crowd on the sidewalk when Klapisch rips off the romantic dash thru the streets that ended MANHATTAN/’79.) It’s a sexed-up roundelay about a popular French author who follows his wife & kids to NYC after they split. And what whimsical adventures he falls into! Sperm donor to lesbian pal; bike messenger for street-cred philosophizing, with prompting from dead philosopher ghosts; a pop-up Chinese bride to finesse his tourist visa into a permanent one; a walk-up Chinatown apartment for the kids to redecorate; adorable Audrey Tautou visiting with two adorable kids to match his two adorable kids. For a while, it’s fun to see a Frenchman giving the city such an open-hearted hug, but how this sticky thing got such a warm reception is anyone’s guess. Maybe the first two entries were less cloying. (Don’t look here to find out.)

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Stagy & over-written, but something about A THOUSAND CLOWNS/65, also about an unconventional writer raising a kid in NYC, sticks with you. OR: Al Pacino out of his comfort zone as a sit-com dad in the weirdly unconvincing AUTHOR! AUTHOR!/’82.

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