December 8, 2009

Pick up the apple

Woody Allen films suddenly appear. Kind of like an apple dropping off a tree. You bite into it because you know apples are good for you. A staple on the food list. So are Woody Allen movies. No matter what, its an essential part of your film diet.

Whatever Works is one of the better Woody Allen movies. New York was on pause while Allen was galavanting around London and Barcelona. He's hit "play" again. Things haven't changed much, which I find comforting.

Open on old fart guy - yes, I can curb my enthusiasm for "Boris Yellnikov" aka Larry David. You don't have to touch him to know his steel wool hair, most of which, has relocated to all parts except his head, is a metaphor for his abrasive self. He's the kind of guy, where you can rightly say, he talked his hair off his head. So, a nuclear physicist genius person, who almost won the Nobel prize, is having a late life crisis and lots of panic attacks. ( personally, I think mid-life crisis would be too flattering. Although possibly, he was born with one, like Allen, whom we know, speaks through his characters)

After a failed suicide attempt, ("you can't win them all") he moves downtown into a disgusting apartment, reflective of his contempt for the worthlessness of the world (a sofa that looks like its been rescued from the garbage dump and no flatscreen tv. ) Surrounded by "empty-headed zombies", "inchworms" and "I hate you and I just met you" people, David reluctantly takes in a southern waif (Evan Rachel Woods), spit out onto the streets of New York, off a bus (or train, take your pick) from Mississippi. Melody loves Melanie from "Gone With the Wind" cause "she's so nice".

Enter "love relationships are invariably transient" mode.

Acerbic speaktalk from Larry David as the genius, cute stepping up the evolutionary ladder by Melody (Woods). Her suppressed high strung southern mom appears (Patricia Clarkson) on their doorstep, tepid in pursuit, eventually the dad (Ed Begley Jr.). Woody Allen's New York as the omniscient silent narrator wields it powers and plays the characters in its own personal game of chess.

All goes at a fairly brisk pace, despite Larry's limp. My ideological predisposition allows me to buy into it and I immediately want to move to New York so that I can be rude to people using lots of big words.

The movie is not endowed with the capacity to greatly surprise us, nevertheless, Larry David's pretty much non-stop rant on the emptiness of the world, and all beings balancing on the ball, is entertaining and contrary to AO Scott's review in the NY Times, I thought the speak to the camera at the very end was heartfelt and sincere. "Love Relationships are invariably transient." Take what you can. Whatever Works. It was a laugh.

No comments: