Cinema: He's Sour; She's Sweet

The past few Woody Allen films have flirted, in a provocatively meanspirited way, with the public aspects of his personality. Deconstructing Harry focused on Woody the selfish lover, Celebrity on Woody the capricious star. The new one has reverbs of Woody's Monday-night gigs in a classical jazz ensemble. Sweet and Lowdown is about one sour fellow, but it's another character who gives this minor movie a surprising lilt and afterglow.

Emmet Ray (Sean Penn) is the premier American jazz guitarist. His fingers sculpt gorgeous sounds from the six strings; I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles was never so poignant or supple as in...

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