Irrational man

irrational-man-wallpaper“Human reason is troubled by questions that it cannot dismiss, but also cannot answer.”- Kant

So what are we talking about here…

Morality? Choice? Randomness of life? Murder?

Taking this philosophical opinion from Kant, Woody ventures into the new tale of his latest movie plot.

Irrational Man is a story of a middle-aged philosophy (Ethical Strategies) professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), who has trouble finding “inspiration to breath” in his life and so, his only option is to drink through his days. He’s simply bored of the sufferings of meaningless day-to-day existence. He’s very radical and original. You either love him or hate him.

Jill (Emma Stone), his young, bright-eyed student who is fascinated by his sufferings, desires to know him on a much deeper level and in doing so falls in love with Abe, and out of it with her serious but naive (young) boyfriend.

One day, “randomness” strikes their lives. A serendipitous encounter causes excitement in Lucas’s life and he thinks he has finally found a reason to live. He finally decides to stop whining and to take actions in his own hands. He calculates his activities in favour of someone he doesn’t know (pure altruism with a dash of selfishness) and this brings his existential crisis to a riveting adventure.

The movie moves back and forth with the voice over narrations of Jill and Abe; one (Abe) voicing his troubles and the other (Jill) trying to figure out those troubles. This is what made the film have a gripping artistic quality about it. The audience is left to choose which side of the argument are they on or want to be at least.

The idea of randomness in life was very well portrayed in Allen’s previous work with Match Point and now this film tries to do the same with the similar idea but in a different light. Getting away with murder in a godless universe is what Allen tries to show through these films; or is it just pure chance that governs our lives?

Almost each (I might be exaggerating) Woody film starts with despair and ‘life is meaningless and there is no god’ but, ends with completely instilling the audience with a hope for a better tomorrow or a second chance.

See, there’s a difference between the theoretical world of philosophy bullshit and the real life (nasty, ugly life). There is the classic economic “Problem of choice” one is confronted with.

What world would you chose to live in? The answer to which can only be found in your “Rationale”.

Irrational Man is an American mystery drama film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring the brilliant Joaquin PhoenixEmma StoneParker Posey and Jamie Blackley; with great work (yet again) done by Darius Khondji for cinematography. Soundtrack was unlike any other Woody classics but suits the background.

The Irrational man released in 2015 has much homage to works of Alfred Hitchcock (of course, in notable Woody Allen style). It received mix reviews from the critics.

How would you rate it?

 

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Magic In The Moonlight (2014)

“It’s science, it’s philosophy, it’s religion.”

Magic in the moonlight is one such movie where the viewers are divided into two sides from the get go. One side pertains to the heart and the other to the head.  One concerns logic and the other mystic. One relates to cynicism and the other of course to optimism.  As is the main theme to many of his movies, Woody strikes yet again with another thought provoking work of genius.

Set in very Gatsby-esque scenes in the South of France, the film surrounds a wealthy family, a world famous magician and a clairvoyant. In the affluent Catledge family we have the widowed mother Grace (Jacki Weaver), romantically naive son Brice (Hamish Linklater), and daughter Caroline (Erica Leerhsen). Enjoying a great deal of appreciation for his acts as a world class Chinese conjurer going by the stage name of Wei Ling Soo, not many know that the real Wei Ling Soo is a disguise of Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) an arrogant Englishman with sky high opinions of himself and a natural dislike towards phony spiritualists and optimists. When Stanley is convinced by his friend Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) a not so well known magician, to unmask the clairvoyant, Stanley immediately agrees to do so. He presents himself as a businessman named Stanley Taplinger in order to debunk the alluring young spirit medium Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) who is staying there with her mother (Marcia Gay Harden).

Sophie arrived at the Catledge villa at the invitation of Grace, who is convinced that Sophie can help her contact her late husband, and once there, attracted the attention of Brice, who has fallen for her head over heels. What follows are series of magical events that sends the characters and audience whirling. In the climax lies the biggest trick of all. Not even the critics could’ve thought of that.

Stanley (Colin Firth) is a middle aged skeptic, a scientific and a logical man. He does not believe in paranormal activities and is very argumentative on the subjects of magic and spiritual being. Sophie (Emma Stone) on the other hand is a young, cheerful, mystical spirit medium who believes in after life and the goodness in everything. The film revolves around how Stanley tries to debunk Sophie and prove for once and for all that there is not more than meets the eye; that we are born and even after committing no sins are still sentenced to death and that there is no God. But could she be the real deal? Will she be able to spark a change in Stanly with her beautiful gift?

During Séance Session

During Séance Session

Many have argued about the casting choice of the main leads (Firth and Stone) due to the age discrepancies, but I feel that it couldn’t have been better: he must be old enough to develop his pessimistic ways, and she must be young and beautiful enough to defy them at first sight.

There is no denying that there are all kinds of people present in this planet- the mystics, pragmatic, happy, unhappy, believers and non-believers. The point that Woody wants to make is in an interrogative form, which is that: whether the unhappy nonbelievers have really made science and proofs as their defence mechanism to prevent themselves from irrationally falling in love?  The way the movie tries to entangle the web of materialism and mystery, of rationale and irrational is where the beauty of the filmmaker that is Woody Allen, cannot be unseen or critiqued.

Our world has reached a point where it holds Science as the ultimate power. We live in a materialistic world with conservative views- views which believe that modern science has completely eliminated the slightest of possibility of spirit, the hereafter and God Almighty. This is what this movie tries to showcase and also examines to discover the psychological relationship between accepting that world-view, and being pessimistic and unhappy.

Dealing with such heavy subjects like religion, philosophy, love and the universe and then presenting them with such ease that it looks good and enjoyable but still manages to engross the audience with the questions that he himself is searching for through his art; this is what true magic is like on a big screen and Woody is not new to that. Many are not able to see that and I feel sorry for them.

Actors casted for the movie did their job so well that you cannot imagine anyone else doing these roles.  The part of Aunt Vanessa played by the very talented Eileen Atkins is sheer perfection. Movie’s soundtrack is what anyone would expect form an Allen classic. The cinematography, capturing the beautiful landscapes of French Riviera on reel is done splendidly by Darius Khondji who was nominated for Lumiere Awards, France 2015.

The movie scores a decent rating on major reviews but who is to say what’s right, right?

A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982)

Movie Poster

“The saddest thing in life is a missed opportunity.”

If dirty is on your mind, then you are far-off the subject than you could be. If funny is on your mind, then you are a little to the left from where you’re ought to be. And so help you God if you think that it has anything to do with Shakespeare. If all this was on your mind after reading the title, then my friend Woody has got you hooked. Like him or not, he sure knows how to demand the attention from his audience and critics like wise.

When the production on Zelig (1983) was stalled, Woody had a chance to pen this confusion down in no less than two weeks. Filming it in as many months. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy is one of Allen’s most confusing theme for a movie. It’s got nothing to do with any genre that is typically found out there on any movie database that I could agree with (even though some sites termed it as a romantic comedy). This film is inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night — not the plot per se but the tone. AT least that’s what the media says.

The story is based on three elements- three couples’ romantic complications, mid-summer weekend vacation and supernatural happenings. Couples in the story are: Andrew (Woody Allen), accountant and inventor; his sexually repressed wife Adrian (Mary Steenburgen); Leopold (Jose Ferrer), Adrian’s uncle and University professor; Leopold’s sexually adventuresome fiancé Ariel (Mia Farrow), who Andrew once dated; Maxwell (Tony Roberts), an incessantly horny doctor, who is also Andrew’s best friend; and Dulcy (Julie Hagerty), Maxwell’s nurse and FWB (friend with benefits). But you won’t be made to pay too much attention on the characters. This move is not about the characters but about what and how they survive this vacation.

It possesses a little slapstick funny moments and much more confusion, both within the plot and the characters. Woody himself didn’t crack any jokes. This movie was however significant in one way; it was the first time that Woody shared the screen with Mia Furrow.

The film progresses in a rhythm wherein one is unable to grasp fully what is the message that it is trying to send across. Although on observing again, I figured that this message is discussed in the very first scene of the film. Points like: “Nothing is real but experience- that which can be touched, tasted, felt or, in some scientific fashion, proved.” “We must never substitute qualitative events that are marked by similar properties and recurrences for fixed substances.”  “Metaphysical philosophers are men who are too weak to accept the world as it is.” “Apart from this world there are no realities.” The whole argument in this first scene is how the theme is set for the movie.

The Spirit Ball

The Spirit Ball

The element of supernatural is brought in by Allen’s character Andrew who has invented a “Spirit ball” which can communicate with the spirit world. Andrew believes that there is more to life than what we perceive with our five senses. When Leopold dies (the night before his wedding to Ariel) due to a heart attack caused by having amazing sex with nurse Dulcy (as he discovers through the Spirit Ball that Ariel is cheating on him with Andrew), just then a light emerges from the Spirit Ball and it’s Leopold’s voice that they all hear. He tells them that he is amongst the spirits in the enchanting woods who died at the hight of love making and that Andrew was right about his theory of ‘there is more than meets the eye’. This light then goes out and vanishes in the dark and the rest of the gang just watched it in awe and amazement. The End!

This is not a terrible movie at all. It’s a good one time watch or even two (who’s counting) if that’s how long it takes for you to understand the moral of this story. It taught me that opportunities should be grabbed as it comes. You only live once and you should not live it in fear or disappointment of ‘what if’s’ and ‘could haves’.  We should not take others for granted and that time is of the essence when it comes to love. Others might dis it and regard it as a waste of time but try and see the good in everything and you might learn a thing or two.

Mia Furrow was apparently nominated at the Razzie Award for Worst Actress. That’s the first and the last time that any Woody Allen movie actress got to have such kind of ‘honour’. Woody Allen has said of Mia Farrow’s performance anxieties on this movie: “I calmed her but I was not completely sympathetic, because I didn’t realize the dimensions, the gravity. I knew she’d be wonderful in it. It never occurred to me she’d disappoint me”. Every other character however played their parts to the T and were captivating. Gordon Willis was the cinematographer on this and the movie was filmed almost entirely outdoors. The role of Ariel was initially made for Diane Keaton but she was busy with promotions of her movie Reds and so, Mia took over. This was Woody Allen’s first movie for the fledgling Orion Pictures, whose executives had run United Artists and produced Allen’s movies for that company.

Not a great soundtrack compilation on this one. In fact, there weren’t much to begin with. No typical jazz tracks as is known a staple in Allen’s work. But then again, it didn’t need any major conductors. The film did not win any awards for obvious reasons. Although it scored 6.7 on IMDB and 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. You be the judge. Check it out and send in your reviews in the comments below. Check out the trailer below; hopefully it will get you excited to watch it.

Interiors (1978)

Interiors_Woody_Allen_1978

After a much acclaimed success of Annie Hall in 1977, Woody Allen began a new project; a new film that will make his critics, audience and everyone else see him in a different light. The “Early funny ones” bracket of movies is not what Allen wanted this time. Even with Annie Hall, Woody said that he ‘compromised’.  With Annie Hall he had wanted to make a deeper and more meaningful artwork but found himself retreating to his safe spot, i.e., comedy. Everyone would now agree that comedy did Annie Hall a lot good than bad. United Artists earned a great deal of income and the film went on to winning an Oscar for Best Picture.

I guess Woody now wanted to tread in uncharted territory; and thus made a movie that was far away from funny. Released in 1978, Interiors is Allen’s most dramatic/serious movies till date. The movie is a perfect inside look at a crisis in a modern age family living in New York. The three sisters (all women in their early-to-mid 30s) , the talented one, a writer Renata  (Diane Keaton) who based everything on art and believed in it firmly had now come at a point in her life where she is questioning herself and worrying about posterity and whether or not she has done enough in her life. She is married to Frederick (Richard Jordan), an alcoholic, arty-crafty, abusive novelist who hates both himself and his work. They are constantly in need of approval and validation, but they are unable to accept compliments.

“I can’t seem to shake the real implication of dying. It’s terrifying. The intimacy of it embarrasses me.”

“I can’t seem to shake the real implication of dying. It’s terrifying. The intimacy of it embarrasses me.”

The actress, the prettier one, Flyn (Kristin Griffith) who seems happier than anyone else in the movie but is made fun of both in the family as well as in her career. She represents empty sensuality. The third sister, the protagonist (according to me), a searcher for meaningful occupation Joey (Mary Beth Hurt). She is shown as a character who has deep intuitive feelings about everything artistic and creative but she has no talent (I personally relate to her a lot). She finds it hard to focus on one thing when her mind is off focusing on something more meaningful. She lives with a filmmaker (Sam Waterston) who seems like the only nice guy in the entire family as he puts up with her and supports her in every way imaginable without losing his wits.

"I feel the real need to express something, but i don't know what it is I want to express or how to express it."

“I feel the real need to express something, but i don’t know what it is I want to express or how to express it.”

These daughters were victimize by the family’s mother, Eve (Geraldine Page) an interior decorator and a restricted individual who felt the need for everything (including the interiors) to be perfect and in exact order at the expense of the whole family. She once had total self confidence and poised elegance, a reason why the girls’ father, a wealthy lawyer Arthur (E.G. Marshall) married her long ago. She maintains a very pale color scheme in her designs; a lot of blues,ice grays, pastel greens, whites, etc. Which somehow shows the vibe she now tends to give off (cold). Thus, the title Interiors seems apt for this feature. Eve is suffering from severe case of depression and gets overly dramatic about anything that tics her. She even tries to commit dramatic suicide. 19-Interiors Her husband one day breaks the hard news to the family saying that he has done more than enough for them and that he now feels the need to take some time off from his responsibilities and take a break from his marriage. The family is completely taken aback and tries to make sense of this sudden befallen tragic episode in their lives. They however seem to understand his view point and decide to take care of mother while father takes his ‘break’.

The 'cold' mother

The ‘cold’ mother

The 'warm' vulgarian

The ‘warm’ vulgarian

Time passes by… Into this mess now comes, Arthur’s new girlfriend Pearl (Maureen Stapleton) he met her during his break time, who is referred to as a “Vulgarian” by Joey. A lively, simple and happy person who loves to tell stories and wear bright colors (the only one who does that in this entire movie). Arthur, seeing what he was missing all these years of his life, then decides to divorce Eve and marry Pearl. The girls find her a complete antitheses of their mother and what they’ve been brought up to love and respect.The family breaks down even further. Eve decides to commit suicide once again by drowning and is successful at that. And now, somehow Pearl seem to give their family a new meaning and direction at the end. A more fit mother to be to these girls. One hopes at the end that this new women brings in warmth into their lives. Whether that is achieved, is not quite told.

Interiors is a great psychoanalytical case study of one particular family who seem perfect on paper but are so deeply messed up that one might like to think that too much of perfection can turn against you and do more evil than good.

Woody is not seen in the entire movie, which came as a shock to the audience back then as it was the first time that he didn’t star in his creations. The amazing direction was such in this movie that we are not shown anyone else in it except the members of this family, as if they lived in their own spooky world. They seem socially disconnected from the world outside and emotionally disconnected with each other. Gordon Willis photographed the movie with immense color control that it needed. There are no major soundtracks. It almost feels like a foreign movie that Woody made inspired by Ingmar Bergman films. Interiors went on to winning major awards like, BAFTA in 1979 for Best Supporting Actress to Geraldine Page, New York Film Critics Circle Awards in 1978 for Best Supporting Actress to Maureen Stapleton and was also nominated under various categories at the Oscars in 1979.

There is a lot more to this movie than I can write down. It’s a shocker and a good one at that. At least for me. Now, instead of watching it as a serious movie, you might learn a thing or two by watching it as a movie with no funny business. I did. 🙂