Woody Allen's least perfunctory film in years is also the first since BULLETS OVER BROADWAY to escape contemporary New York and Allen's usual neurotic, Upper-East-Side navel gazers. Affectionate, melancholy and anchored by a well thought-out performance from
Sean Penn, it purports to look at the life and legend of an obscure jazz musician named Emmet Ray (Penn). Allen, jazz historian Nat Hentoff and other experts appear periodically, speaking to an unseen interviewer about the fictitious Ray, a prodigiously talented guitarist second only to authentic
jazz idol Django Reinhardt. But Allen doesn't force the mockumentary issue; the talking heads mostly serve as a kind...