Cinema: Deconstructing Woody

The aging auteur's new film, Hollywood Ending, shows that comedy only gets harder as you get older

Is comedy a young man's game, like skateboarding or sex? Writing jokes, creating droll characters--these take ambition, ingenuity and energy, and after decades of devotion to this voracious muse, a fellow can get pooped. He still knows the rhythms (ba-da-dum or ba-da-bing) but has run out of witty variations. He's vamping, working from the Catskills version of muscle memory. His obsession is just a job; he's confecting comedy not from inspiration but from habit.

That seems the case with Woody Allen, 66, whose Hollywood Ending, his 32nd film as writer-director, is now on display. So is a documentary, Woody Allen: A...

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