is Woody Allen's first mystery movie. The mystery: what caused this total breakdown of a unique artist? Possible solution: Allen's well-known influences became dybbuks and took possession of him, turning him into a puppet gone batty with eclecticism. Every few minutes this film upchucks another reference: Bergman, Brecht, Kafka, Fritz Lang--it's as if Allen made his movie not with a script but a library card. Allen plays a schnook named Kleinman (Kafka's K, Woodyfied) who's suspected of being a psycho strangler. On the lam, he splashes into a stewful of refugees from every German expressionist film ever made: a circus girl (Mia Farrow), a clown (John Malkovich), a mad scientist (Donald Pleasance), a metaphysical magician (Kenneth Mars), a hive of philosophical hookers (Jodie Foster, Lily Tomlin, Kathy Bates). Never has such an all-star cast seemed like a no-star cast. (Madonna is reduced to a cleavage and a double-entendre.) Shot on a fogbound set meant to be a nameless European town in the '20s, the movie really pictures Allen's mind momentarily befogged by (gulp!) ART. Allen's cherished themes--urban angst, implacable fate, the betrayals of love, anti-Semitism--all become leaden charades garnished with incongruous gags. His last two films were the witty "Alice" and the compelling "Crimes and Misdemeanors." Fortunately he's well into his next movie. Suggested title: "The Antidote."
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