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Woody Allen Signs ‘Slumdog’ Star

by Danielle Berrin

February 24, 2009 | 5:00 pm

Penelope Cruz and Woody Allen photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

Woody Allen famously loves women. But as the historic record would show, his relationship to them in life is a bit more complicated. Likewise, his depiction of them on screen—whether neurotic or smoldering—is also fraught.

It could be argued that Allen’s female characters are women you love in spite of who they are (not because of who they are) and yet, the most interesting, beautiful actresses want to work with him. For who else could write the astonishing line, “Talent? I’m not talking about talent. Geeeenius. I said geeenius!” which, when uttered by an emotionally explosive Penelope Cruz, wins an Oscar. And this morning, Hollywood’s newest gem, India model/actress Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”) signed on to Allen’s next film alongside Naomi Watts.

Does this mean Scarlett Johansson is getting dumped? With Woody Allen, it never ends well, says Vanity Fair:

The archetypal Woody woman might be the over-educated, over-therapized yammerer—exemplified by Diane Keaton’s characters in Annie Hall and Manhattan—but another type of woman has also recurred in his work: the smoldering, emotionally volatile knockout. Think of Charlotte Rampling in Stardust Memories, Scarlett Johansson in Match Point, or, from Allen’s masterful short story “Retribution,” the Wasp goddess Connie Chasen, possessed of a “lewd, humid eroticism” and a body “the envy of a Vogue model.” In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Cruz takes on this assignment and then some—throwing in bits of Béatrice Dalle in Betty Blue and Emmanuelle Seigner in Bitter Moon for good measure. As María Elena, the tousled, pouty, impossibly sexy ex-wife of Javier Bardem’s painter character, Cruz is a whirlwind of carnality and psychosis. “You are de meesing ingredient,” she tells her ex’s new lover, an American naïf played by Johansson. “I get thees warm feeling when I hear you both locked in passion every night.” With Allen pulling the strings, you just know it’s not going to end well.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile dubbed her...

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