Zelig (Allen, 1983): BFI Southbank, NFT 3, 6.10pm
This film is screening every day at this cinema until January 19.
Continuing the season of Woody Allen comedies at the NFT (details of which you can find here) this is perhaps the director's finest work. Time Out critic David Jenkins thinks so and here's why:
'When push comes to shove, my favourite Woody is ‘Zelig’, a hilarious one-of-a-kind from 1983. It’s another thinly-veiled auto-portrait centring on a chameleon-like pariah who is able to meld his body to fit in with those surrounding him. His story is delivered by way of a bogus documentary mixing footage filmed on antique cameras, recontextualised newsreel and shrewd use of blue screen technology. Granted it’s an odd little film, often dismissed as a over-egged joke or love-it-or-loathe-it after-dinner frivolity, but the way in which it conjoins the droll comedy of self-hatred from ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Manhattan’ with the pet Allen interests of jazz, psychotherapy and, of course, old movies, makes this one of his most trenchant and enjoyable personal statements to date. My sentiments echo those of one of the film’s many crackpot interviewees: ‘Leonard Zelig is one of the finest gentlemen in the United States of America. He is the cat’s pyjamas!’ Hear, hear.'
Here is the trailer.