In the view of N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott, Woody Allen has slipped into a mode (or mood) that is beyond autopilot. For him making films has become a kind of rote errand — a calling he needs to pursue because without that calling there is only the void. But doesn’t this express what all movie lovers feel? That they need to see and absorb and consider the next film — proverbially, repeatedly, eternally — because the absence of these encounters would constitute an intolerable nothingness?

“The metaphysical pessimism that constitutes Woody Allen‘s annual greeting-card message to the human race — just in case we needed reminding that our existence is meaningless — is served up in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger with a wry shrug and an amusing flurry of coincidences, reversals and semi-surprises.

“There are hints of farce, droplets of melodrama, a few dangling loose ends and an overall mood of sloppy, tolerant cynicism.

“At this point in his career — 40 features in about as many years — Mr. Allen has both mastered his craft and grown indifferent to it. Does he take any pleasure in making these movies? Does he expect the audience to take any?

“It’s hard to say, since he seems to make films, and we seem to watch them (at least those of us who still do), more through force of habit than because of any great inspiration or conviction. Given the nonexistence of any controlling moral order in the universe, what else can we do? And what else would we want him to do?”