A work of glimmer and past glories. In new film, Woody Allen seems to acknowledge the world has changed.

In Luis Bunel's ''The Exterminating Angel'' one of the canonical European classics that is directly referenced in Woody Allen's ''Rifkin's Festival,'' guests at a bourgeois dinner in a lavish mansion find themselves unable to leave.

Supplies dwindle. Tempers fray. Some odd stuff happens with a bear. It's an exaggeration to suggest that, except for the bear part, the situation might be at all similar to that of the jobbing film critic, or the completist filmgoer, when it comes to Allen's late-period movies.

But then again, it is true that no matter how much, and for what precise reasons, one may long to leave this party - one that started winding down quite some time ago - a new Allen movie shows up year after year [almost without fail, 2018 being an anomaly].

So it's a relief to report that ''Rifkin's Festival''is, to the ravenous captive, like finding an unexpected stash of dessert : not substantial and not nutritious, but sweet enough to remind you in passing of the good times you once had, despite all that happened in the interim.

It's not hard to see why the San Sebastian Film Festival chose ''Rifkin's Festival'' as its opener.

As he tells his therapist in voice-over, he went to San Sebastian only to keep an eye on his publicist wife, Sue [Gina Gershon] , relishing a better role than she had in a while].

Sue is taking a bit too much care of her client, a hot-shot director played with sexy hatevility by France's most sexily hateable actor, Louis Garrel, and named Philippe, just like Louis's own director father.

Sue and Philippe's flirtations has two effects on the hypochondriac Mort. First, he imagines he's having heart problems, so he visits a cardiologist, Dr. Joe Rojas [Elena Anaya]. ''I didn't know you were a woman,'' Mort marvels, apparently the sole person in existence who has never heard the old ''The doctor is a woman!''

He's instantly infatuated, even more so when he discovers she too loves classic film, despises Philippe's movie, is conversant with New York City and is experiencing marital woes.

These are caused by her unfaithful painter husband, Paco, played by Sergi Lopez in a fantastic, bottle-smashing, self-harm threatening parody at the passionate, artistic Spaniard archetype that Allen so embraced in ''Vicky Cristina Barcelona.''

Second, each night Mort dreams vividly literal interpretations of the classic films he loves, recast with himself, Sue, Philippe and Jo playing the pivotal roles. And while it's a little strange that Mort's ostensibly obscure and snobby tastes should be represented basically by the top 10 tracks on -

''Now That's What I Call the Greats of Cinema Vol 1,'' and some of these black-and-white interludes are over-worked - the ''Citizen Kane'' Rosebud gas is particularly forced - a few are pretentiousness-posturing fun.

In moments like the ''Breathless'' ''Why are we under this sheet?'' sequence, or the ''Persona'' riff in which Sue and Jo lapse into Swedish to complain about Mort's love of subtitles, there are glimmers of the anarchic cinephelia of early Allen.

''Rifkin's Festival'' is far less objectionable, and though that is a praise so faint it needs smelling salts, with latter-day Woody Allen we must be thankful for small mercies, and this bauble is, at least, a mercy of the smallest kind.

The World Students Society thanks author Jessica Kiang. Movie Review : Donostia San Sebastian, Spain.


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