“The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” (2001) A veteran insurance investigator and a newly installed company efficiency expert trade barbs while they are unwittingly involved, due to post-hypnotic suggestions, in the very jewel robberies they themselves are investigating. With its richly textured palette of deep browns and burnished golds by Zhao Fei and impeccable production design by Santo Loquasto, Woody Allen’s “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” is an aesthetic delight; the cinematographic love child of Gordon Willis and Natalie Kalmus. Unfortunately, the film is a talkie and as such the viewer cannot be sustained by a rich diet of visuals alone, but must be provided adequate textual sustenance, and to that end, the film’s scenario is an anemic affair in both wit and narrative invention. Conceptually, this is one of Allen’s most traditionally structured storylines as his comedies have a tendency to meander within a basic thematic premise while lacking the full development demanded of linear plot construction. However, in attempting a solid structural integrity of a Hawks-like farce, Allen’s fixation on perpetuating his own neurotic persona (despite the fact that it ill-suits the character he is playing) tends to stall the momentum of a plot desperate for sharp witted performances and lightning quick delivery.
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