(Ed. Note: This is my yearly “seeing the new Woody Allen movie today” post. As long as Woody keeps making movies every year, I’ll keep posting this.)

Today, I will be seeing To Rome With Love, the 44th film directed by Woody Allen. Forty-third if you don’t count TV-movie Don’t Drink The Water, an odd dip into the small screen in 1994, starring Woody, Julie Kavner, Dom DeLuise, Mayim Bialik and Michael J. Fox.

Because Woody is so intrepid about making a movie a year, sometimes for better or sometimes for worse, watching whatever his new movie is has become my most anticipated holiday. I’m generally skilled at avoiding pre-release press on the majority of the movies I see, but I’m particularly vigilant about Woody Allen movies: All I know about the movie is that it has Roberto Benigni and Alec Baldwin and Juno and Mark Zuckerberg, and that Woody actually acts in this one, for the first time since Scoop. I like to come in clean.

I’ve seen every film Woody has ever directed or starred in — even Picking Up The Pieces, in which he wears a cowboy hat — and every single one in a theater either on Opening Day or at a screening since Husbands and Wives in 1992. (At the Savoy 14, just outside Champaign, Ill, with Tim Grierson and Jeff Brown, 20 minutes after we’d seen Singles.) The best of that stretch is either H&W or Deconstructing Harry — I change my mind between those two every week — and the worst is probably The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion. I saw Manhattan Murder Mystery at the Co-ed Theater in Champaign — which led to my first ever published piece of writing, which is framed in, of all places, my parents’ basement — Mighty Aphrodite with Roger Ebert at The Art in Champaign, Sweet and Lowdown at the Galleria in St. Louis and Small Time Crooks at the Angelika in New York. Seeing his movies on the day they open has been the single constant in my life for the last 20 years.

So, yeah, good day.

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