Reviews for Irrational Man ( ) 1080p

IMDB: 6.8 / 10


I love the creative and courageous Woody Allen. Parker Posey should be given a writing credit for any Woody Allen scene she appears in. Emma Stone; you're either on board or you're not. Joaquin Phoenix is pitch perfect in every frame.

Was totally mesmerized watching Jill/Emma fall in love with Abe/Joaquin as he falls in love with his love of life. I think she should get an Oscar nomination for the steady control of emotion as the beautifully paced plot unfolds. Something Katherine Hepburn-ish in the way she sustains Jill's inner world so effortlessly across such complex psychological territory.

I watched this alone in the dark and was 'there'; I suspect it had a lot to do with why I judged it 'perfect' when it ended. I can't imagine what my reaction would have been had I seen it with a crowd whose judgments and reactions would have colored my experience.

It is hilarious and annoying for me to read some of these other more critical reviews. I'm sure Mozart had his critics too. Reviews are not creative works.

One reviewer said this was more of a Phoenix than a Woody movie and for me it was really a tragic love story that leaned heavily on both stars. And yet I was always anticipating when Posey would return to the screen. All of the supporting actors were terrific.

I remember seeing Local Hero with Burt Lancaster; I had a pleasant movie afterglow for days and weeks afterwards. I think Irrational Man will be someone I remember for a very long time.

Woody Allen's take on "Crime & Punishment" is punishment to watch

It's only natural that a man of Woody Allen's years would be concerned with questions about the meaning, or lack thereof, of life. It's also understandable that he would try to find new inspiration in a masterpiece like Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment". Lots of writers, myself included, have emulated it, copied it, or downright stolen from it. But few have done such a lousy job as Allen in "Irrational Man", his latest film and one of his worst.

For the uninitiated, "Crime and Punishment" is the story of a man who murders a crooked shopkeeper to prove that he can serve humanity while flouting society's notions of right and wrong. "Irrational Man" follows that theme with the story of Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), a depressed, alcoholic philosophy professor who decides to murder a corrupt judge in order to serve the "higher moral good". Once the deed is done, Abe feels he has done the world a favor, and is reborn: he feels alive for the first time in years, and finds love again with an adoring student (Emma Stone) and a married colleague (Parker Posey). His newfound happiness is threatened, however, when an innocent person is arrested for his crime, and his lovers discover what he has done.

Watching this movie is like being cornered at a party by a philosophy major who drones on for hours about the great European thinkers. It believes it is blowing your mind, but it is in fact ruining your night.

Allen seems to have forgotten how to create real, human characters, relying instead on clichés: the burnout professor, the fresh-faced ingenue, the discontent housewife. We never really know them, and we don't particularly want to.

I'm getting pretty tired of Woody Allen movies about wealthy white people going through existential crises. Every single person on screen is as rich and white as a cheesecake, and can't shut up about what a burden it is. (Really, what says "white privilege" more than "philosophy major"?) I don't know about you, but I have better things to do with my time and money than watching a bunch of trust fund babies regurgitate Heidegger while frowning.

The cast is badly misused. Phoenix is given little to do but mope, while Stone - in her second bad Allen film after "Magic in the Moonlight" - has such a paper-thin character and such terrible dialogue that she can't help but come off as rehearsed and mechanical. Posey's considerable comic gifts are squandered in a role that requires her only to look bored and misty-eyed.

The Woody Allen who makes us laugh and gives us something to talk about on the ride home - the Woody Allen of "Annie Hall", "Manhattan" and "Deconstructing Harry" - is nowhere in evidence here. Instead, we get the Woody Allen of "Shadows and Fog", "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger" and "Melinda and Melinda": a smug, self-indulgent blowhard who expects us to be dazzled by whatever comes out of his mouth.

No one expects him to be Dostoevsky, but we do expect him to be Woody Allen - to make funny, smart, interesting movies about funny, smart, interesting people. With "Irrational Man", he succeeds only in being an irritating bore who ruins the party.

Rational Irrational Man

Basically, I'll watch any film that Woody Allen makes. That said, it doesn't mean I think all of his films are top rank. His best films blend comedy, psychology, and philosophy with a good storyline. His worse fall short in one of these areas. When I first started watching the film, I thought it had all the potential of some of his better films. A charismatic, somewhat famous, professor comes to a small college. His questionable reputation intrigues and titillates students and colleagues alike. The professor (Joaquin Phoenix )is in the throes of mid-life angst and burdened by the expectations others have of him. In an attempt to recharge his life, he heads down some questionable trails.

The psychological aspects of the plot evaporate into a crime drama. For a moment, the professor becomes a Raskolnikov-like character and I began to think the psychological aspect may once again come to the fore and make this an interesting movie. Instead, this potential plot twist is brushed aside and, sadly, the rest is more or less predictable.

The acting is good enough, though the romantic relationships among the characters are shallow and not well-developed, making them somewhat difficult to believe.

Woody Allen fans may find the film interesting enough, but don't expect another Midnight in Paris or a crime story as good as Manhattan Murder Mystery. If Irrational Man was more in keeping with its title, it would have been less predictable and more interesting.

Did not liked it

"a man without common sense" (translated from the Hebrew title) seems like the creation of an idiot who does not have the slightest idea about cinema. But Woody Allen is not an idiot; for a Fact, he sometimes makes good movies. The film is so lacking content that can be explained by the fact that just does not care and wants only to mark "V" on 2015 as another year of the film by him, or - and maybe that explains it more likely - it stretches the boundaries on purpose. He's trying to figure out how suckers can be fans of him, and whether they could justify and find a purpose to exist this film that if it comes from another director, everyone would reject it outright primal script would never have reached before the cameras.

Nothing Irrational About Woody

Joaquin Phoenix is still one of the best an most interesting actors working today, and Emma Stone, who is just getting better and better is one of the most enjoyable actresses to watch just now. In Irrational Man, Phoenix plays a college professor who is new to the campus where Stone's character studies, although his reputation proceeds him, as students and lecturers alike are abuzz with excitement over his arrival. Men can't figure him out and women cling to him despite his paunch and nonchalance, never mind his unconventional teaching methods in philosophy. What ensues is a friendship between Phoenix and Stone that grows over her affection for him, and by way of a conversation heard in a diner that puts a local judge in poor light because he's in a position to strip a seemingly good mother of the rights to see her children. This puts the movie in familiar territory for anyone who has seen Rope, but also Allen's own Match Point, Love and Death and Crimes and Misdemeanors, where the morality and immorality of murder is discussed. Which puts Phoenix in an interesting position as a philosophy professor with some very frank and matter-of-fact ideas about life and living. And he plays this well, without channeling his director in the way other actors have in the past, but creating a character who is smart, troubled and very inviting. There's a world weariness and a nervous energy in Phoenix that's countered by Stone's wide-eyed optimism and inherently decent qualities, which are traits that she encompasses so very well as an actress. She's easy to get on side with just as Phoenix is always able to invite viewers into the mind of the characters he plays. But it's Allen's script that underwhelms, if not his framing and staging of conversational scenes. Questions and ideas are posed without enough attached to them, although the stakes may be high, the narrative is familiar and one could expect Jessica Fletcher or Columbo to be involved in such a story. Whilst the frequent use of the Ramsey Lewis Trio's The In Crowd has meaning, but not enough purpose in how this become a theme for the movie. Which I quite liked, because I like Murder She Wrote, Columbo and Diagnosis Murder, and that's really the territory Allen is in here. But it's far from his best, although his work-ethic is remarkable, along with the fact that he isn't guilty of missing the mark or making poor movies, even when he's coasting.

I love an Allen film, but this was a little too cringy for me...

Like so many, I will always go and see a Woody Allen film. If nothing else, there is something so nastalgic about the opening title sequence of white text against black background while dixieland music turns in the background (although during these credits there is a noticeably lack of music). Add Pheonix to the mix and chances are so high that the film will be enjoyable to watch. In short, it wasn't.

Pheonix sipping from a flask while driving fast in an old Volvo, black shades on - cool. But progressively less and less cool and realistic as the film goes on. How often do you expect me to believe that this professor drinks from his flask throughout the day without falling asleep or having someone say 'Hey dude, stop doing that, you're on a college campus'.

I wish I cared for the characters, but between all the abrupt cuts from one scene to completely different scene without ever feeling grounded, and the abundance of very lukewarm dialogue - 'philosophy is just verbal masturbation' (wow how witty for a philosophy professor to say) - i just never felt like I knew who the characters were, or wanted to know them.

I was put off by the obviousness of the premise - student falls for the tortured philosophy professor. Philosophy professor is too damaged to care about anything, until he finally finds inspiration...but in the wrong place - and expected that Allen wouldn't have bothered going down that road unless he had something truly unique to add. But there was nothing, it honestly seemed like a stripped down first draft of the film with dialogue feeling so uncomfortable at times as if they didn't get a very good take but just said, 'screw, move on', i.e. people talking over one another, but in an unnatural way like they forgot the other person still had some of their line to say.

The visuals were pleasant. I enjoyed seeing Pheonix with a pot-belly and a long t-shirt, looking like an app developer. There were nice shots of a college campus, cliffs by the sea, quaint east coast house interiors, and so on. Not enough to hold my interest, and not enough for me to forgive the cringy dialogue or accept the unbelievable second half of the movie.

Anyways, I probably won't dissuade an Allen fan from seeing one of his movies, and I wouldn't want to. Go and watch it, and check it off the list.

'those later funny ones'

I enjoyed this even more than my rating suggests and I haven't scored it higher because it didn't make me want to see it again straightaway, which is basically my rationale for giving a film tops. Why not? Because, I think, I simply loved everything about this film and sat smiling and tingling not sure what was coming next but loving it all and I don't think all that would happen second time. Daft? Yes, maybe but certainly this is a must see film, perfectly constructed with full on comedic script and intelligent and sparkling dialogue. There is even a bit of action! Woody gives a nod here to Strangers on a Train but i think he he were honest there is even more of 'Dexter'. Its that clever mix of logic, rationality, morality, sin and humour. Lots of little things amused me, I particularly liked the elements of 'chance' and the astute and sharp critiques of various philosophers. i also enjoyed being surprised and never quite knowing where this was going - just loving the ride. This is most defiantly like 'one of those early funny ones, indeed we may have to start referring to 'those later funny ones' if Woody Allen carries on at this rate. Excellent.

Overload of philosophical clichés. Plot with potential but execution fails. Could have been thought provoking and a thriller, but is actually neither

I state upfront that I see perfect ideas behind the plot, but it is a pity that it took almost a full hour to establish that there was indeed a real choice to be made, a stretch during which we witnessed philosophical and existential reasoning about the meaning of life and death in all its intricacies. This 1 hour delay would have been fine with me were it not that the dilemma miserably failed to manifest itself in full, not even in the last half hour when the story really took off. Of course, the first hour provided for ample background information about the protagonists, meanwhile showing why a judge suddenly became Abe's target and how the actual murder was to be carried out (this is not a spoiler, as it is clear after 15 minutes that this planned murder is the piece of resistance).

All this would have been better to digest when there was some humor intertwined within the proceedings. I don't think that the laughable ending was meant to work as a humoristic relief (it isn't). It is true that it solved all problems at once, though no one will live happily ever after. Still another possibility to improve my movie experience might have been using believable actors, convincing in what they say rather than merely throwing quotes and other pseudo wisdom around without demonstrating any conviction in the clichés we see passing. The wise words did not fall on fruitful grounds for me, so again an opportunity dearly missed. If you ever need a deterrent to keep people from studying philosophy, this is the movie of choice to show them.

Below paragraphs leave all the above for what it is, and focus on the contents of the story as it develops. It is the only part of the movie that had potential and could have been interesting, hence deserves some extra lines of explanation why it failed in my opinion.

The first hour mostly intends to portray a semi-scientific setting by means of random classroom snippets, amplified with private discussions between our main characters outside university walls. Nearly all of them are pro's or near-pro's in philosophy, hence an uncountable number of quotes from world renowned thinkers is passing by. In spite of its good intentions, it merely fills the time, and nothing more than that. We even may construe it as dressing-up a scientific basis that was desperately needed, in order to hide a shallow story and similarly poor development of the material at hand. Yet, I must admit that the latter was promising in many respects, but regrettably got no chance to rise to its full potential.

Overall problematic for me is that the story development is burdened with at least four practical issues. FIRSTLY, I question whether the judge in question really was as bad as he seemed to be considering this single case, wherein he allegedly was prejudiced. But how can we be sure, having heard only one side of the story, especially in a divorce case like this where the custody of children was at stake, mostly involving a lot of mud throwing. SECONDLY, though presented to us as the perfect murder of the century, the amateurish preparations and the many ways he could have been exposed even before the final action, stretched our belief unnecessarily. THIRDLY, main characters Abe and Jill see each other frequently, in and out of the classroom. Everyone is talking about it. Strangely enough, no faculty administrator seems to take action, yet such close contacts are definitely against university house rules. We know they only meet in the open and that Abe flatly refuses any intimacy, but everyone else is bound to assume otherwise. FOURTHLY and finally, the murder story of the judge seems to dominate the front pages for many weeks, as if nothing more happens in the area. When one woman connects the dots and develops a theory about the real murderer, several weeks after the fact, her word spreads unnaturally and unconvincingly fast. Given the few things she actually had to support her theory, it seems far-fetched that the rumor got that far in the first place, and that it eventually reaches Abe and Jill.

In the final scenes when a false arrest is made for the murder, the story gains real momentum after all. Alas, that part is condensed in a time frame that is too small. This finale and its underlying dilemma deserved much more attention and depth, allowing the rushed choices by the main characters ample time to gradually develop. It would have made this movie so much more interesting. In other words, the first hour could have been shortened by losing most of the random philosophical quotes inside and outside class, in favor of the finale that now has all the looks of a rush job. I regret being unable to elaborate on this part of the story and dwell on a few examples to clarify my comments, as this will give away too much of the surprising plot twists.

All in all, the many positive reviews did put me on the wrong foot and convinced me to finally go and see a Woody Allen movie, in spite of my resolutions many years ago to do that never ever again. It was promising that Woody Allen himself downplayed his product with several jokes about its deepness, but it made me expect more than actually delivered. Could have been thought provoking, but was drowned in life and death clichés. Could have been a thriller, but the story runs its amateurish course and lacks all form of tension. I wonder how viewers had reacted when unaware who the director was. It is very well possible that I do not belong to the ideal fan club of (t)his kind of movies, so I reinforce my previous resolution of not ever going to a Woody Allen movie again.

Great idea, terrible execution

When deciding to go to Irrational Man, I believed to be in for a treat. As a philosophy major struggling with an occasional existential crisis, I thought it might be cool to see a movie about a philosopher in similar peril. Although the movie starts our rather promising, it quickly lapses into utter disaster. About halfway you can stop watching as you know exactly how it will end and you might even be able to anticipate exactly what the actors are going to say. The movie is quite the opposite of a scenario in which you recognize only at the last moment that the situation is going dire. You do not really get sucked into the performance, but you just see random people uttering lines of text. The philosophy used can be taken from one introductory course but no real errors are made, except for running into dozens of cliché's. The dramatic ending resulted in hysterical laughter throughout the theater, not because it was funny, but because it was so poor. In fact, I have gone through the trouble of creating an account, just to be able to point out that this movie is a waste of time.

The only thing irrational about "Irrational Man" is refusing to consider seeing it.

What does it mean to be alive? What is the difference between being alive and really living? And once you've answered those questions, take a shot at these: What does it mean to be moral? What is the relationship between morality and rationality? If you find these questions intriguing, you'll likely enjoy "Irrational Man" (R, 1:35). Oh, and liking Woody Allen, Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone would help.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Abe Lucas, a philosophy professor who has signed on to teach a summer course at a small-town college. And why not? He has nothing better to do. Abe is adrift – physically, spiritually, intellectually, and just about any other "-ally" you can think of. He's bored with himself and bored with life, but he keeps pushing forward, because that's what people do. The existential philosophy that he discusses with his students seems to give him a bit of a spark, but also seems to be extinguishing it in him at the same time. He has overanalyzed life to the point that it has lost all its meaning.

You might think that such a personality would send people trying to get as far away from this guy as possible, but you'd be wrong. Abe's students appear engaged by his class discussions and some of the women on campus (well, two of them anyway) seem to want nothing more than to be around him as much as possible. A fellow professor, Rita Richards (Parker Posey), is one of them and Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), one of Abe's students, is the other. Rita is married and Jill has a boyfriend (Jamie Blackley). Rita says she would be willing to leave her husband and run off with Abe, while Jill stubbornly insists that her relationship with Abe is purely platonic, but she can't help but be attracted to her brooding professor.

Eventually something changes in Abe. Something existential in nature. While talking together in a diner, Jill and Abe overhear a conversation that gives Abe an idea. The professor who says he values life lessons above all other kinds, decides to take positive action and probably change someone's life for the better. This person he'd be helping is a stranger to him and this action he decides upon is highly illegal, but just the thought of it awakens Abe, as if from a long sleep. His life now has a purpose. He's completely energized by the thought of actually doing something meaningful instead of just talking about meaning in class. Small town philosophy professor Abe Lucas sets his mind to planning and carrying out "the perfect crime", something that he is able to rationalize, but could only be seen by other people as the action of a completely irrational man.

This is not your typical Woody Allen film. The writer-director's style has evolved over his long career and he has tackled a wider variety of subjects with a greater variance in tone over the past decade or two. While Abe, Rita, Jill and Jill's boyfriend carry in their DNA the typical Woody Allen quirkiness and their conversations are as clever and ironic as in most of Allen's films, there's much more going on in the film than people talking. After all the philosophical conversations and the will-they-or-won't-they tension in Abe's two most significant relationships, the movie suddenly changes direction, but still maintains a strong narrative thread and remains true to its characters. As the plot becomes almost surreal, audience members may find themselves as unsure about what to think as the characters are about what to do.

"Irrational Man" features a typically strong Woody Allen script with typically interesting performances from his actors. Allen has a long-standing reputation for getting the very best from his cast, especially his female cast members and this film is no exception. Phoenix does his usually outstanding work (maybe his best since "Walk the Line"), Posey and the relatively unknown Blakely are very strong, but it's Stone who shines brightest. She gets the kind of scenes and does the kind of job that gets award nominations. Allen deserves the same consideration for his script. Anything less would be irrational, as would anything but a positive review from me. "A-"
After a late wobble or two, Irrational Man packs a final, farcical punch that feels just right.

One of Woody's worst movies

The second half of the movie was boring and turned me off because the remainder of the plot was so predictable. As the plot proceeded I guessed every turn that it took. I enjoy a thriller, mystery that leaves you intrigued and guessing to the end. Not so with Irrational Man. It is beautifully filmed and the dialogue is sparkling Woody. What's more the 2 main actors are superb. I thought the first half of the movie very interesting from the philosophical arguments presented by the Philosopher professor. It seems Woody is quite conversant with Modern philosophy or else he researched so as to quote concisely. As to the hilarity of the movie which others have praised, I didn't enjoy more than a few chuckles. There were not the belly laughs you expect in a Woody film.

Couldn't be worse

I hated this film, and Allen should be strung up by the balls for being allowed to make it. For one thing, it could discourage many young people from seeing some of his great films of decades ago. Every element of this one - the writing, the casting, the acting, the music track, the scene design, the overall production, is a disgrace - repetitive, boring, senile, tired, sexless, and pretentious. Never has Joachim Phoenix been worse. In fact, no actor shows the slightest interest or investment in their one- dimensional parts. They look and sound wooden. Clearly this film is an OCD exercise made by a bored and frightened old man with dwindling energy and imagination trying desperately to imitate and recapture his enthusiasms of 40-50 years ago. It's an insult to his fans. The ending is a major infantile cop-out. The horrific score consists of an endless repeat of a 60s anthem ("The In Crowd"). The discussions of "philosophy" repeat Allen's old shtick - including the same-old irrelevant boring names like Heidigger and Kant - he's used in the distant past. I'm surprised a long-bearded Chasidic Jew doesn't make an appearance somewhere in the soulless set. The story, issues, characters, setting (Newport, RI) have no resonance whatever in the present, and the clever "moral issue" was all covered infinitely better in "Crimes and Misdemeanors." A 13-year-old making a movie in the style of Woody Allen would be far more interesting. The world would be a better place if this film had never been made. It's a major embarrassment, like a wedgie or a fart in an elevator. Allen must be suffering from dementia.
At the age of 79, Woody Allen is still a formidable filmmaker ("Blue Jasmine" was just two years ago). But he is also, inevitably, Woody Allen.

An expert craftsman at work

A tight script? Check. Capable actors? Check. Lots of witty dialogue? Check. A jazzy soundtrack? Check. Beautiful photography in idyllic settings? Check.

Yes, all the ingredients are there. Just leave it to the 79-year old chef to create a delicious dish out of it. When everything is right, a Woody Allen movie is a delight to watch. And with 'Irrational Man', this is absolutely the case.

Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone are clearly enjoying themselves as the grumpy philosophy professor and his admiring student and lover. Allen's script plays in a lighthearted way with serious philosophical concepts such as guilt, evil and righteousness. Also, he throws in a murder mystery and makes the suspense last until the very end.

'Irrational Man' will not be one of Allen's greatest movies, because it lacks an extraordinary element like Cate Blanchett's performance in 'Blue Jasmine', or the historical dimension of 'Midnight in Paris'. But even without such an extra ingredient, 'Irrational Man' shows an expert craftsman at work. In a couple of years time, it might just turn out to be one of his most underrated films.
While it doesn't quite succeed, it's a mournful meditation too sharp and smart to dislike.
In the end, this feeble effort remains tainted, however unfairly, by the creator's personal life. Maybe Allen should have titled it "Rationalizing Man."
It works, more or less; the three central actors are all terrific, particularly Posey, who finds something vulnerable and touching in Rita. But you watch it thinking of other, better Allen movies ...

Woody doing Philosophy Noir rounds out a trilogy - underrated though flawed

Sometimes a guy can't catch a break, and it may be for good reason. With Woody Allen and the critics of Irrational Man, one may think there's a rational reason, no clever spin intended. Here's a man who is spectacular at what he does, but he doesn't have the most immense range of the American iconoclast-auteurs - by this point, after writing films for 50 years and directing for over 45, critics and most audiences get the gist of what the man works with: some occasional fantasy, light-hearted comedy, serious, brooding drama, romance, mystery, magic, existentialism and the separation of reality and fantasy. But for myself, I went into this trying to take it just on its own terms: does it work as its own story, as to what it's trying to do, with or without the author's baggage? I think it does, often quite well, and it makes a sort of cap to an unexpected, thematic trilogy of movies, which I'll get to in a moment.

In Irrational Man it starts out like what seems to be a story of a philosophy professor (Phoenix) caught in despair, while an eager, bright student (Stone) starts to fancy him. He's blocked, he can't seem to write (or "sleep with" Parker Posey's character early on), and he drinks fairly heavily (Phoenix adds a pot belly to the mix). But its main turning point turns it into what is a Hitchcockian tale of murder and deception, all due to eavesdropping on the sad tale of a cruel judge presiding over a custody case. It turns this professor's life around, albeit with a rather dark twist.

By Hitchcockian it's easy to throw that label around, but this is a filmmaker who has previously used a scene from Shadow of a Doubt (I forget which movie, but I remember characters watching it in one of his films), and now has some elements taken from it. Hey, how about a discussion in a very lively, satirical manner about the best way to go about a murder? Or what if it's a complete stranger with a poison of some kind? At the same time Allen throws in Emma Stone, once again after 'Moonlight' but here now modern and always great to look at as a star on screen with full-on talent and energy to burn with her co-star. Phoenix, meanwhile, gets a lot of this man's despair, and then his odd joy too - though Phoenix may not seem like the most spot-on actor to show 'energy' in the later half of the film, he is still completely there for what this character requires.

What I liked about Irrational Man, even with some of its familiarity in the Allen world - professor with a younger student romantically, questions of morality, what it means when PURE luck really defines what happens for people - is that it was genuine about how its characters saw and changed with their views on the world, and that on its own you get wrapped up in the question of "Will he really get away with this?" To be sure, this question was asked with greater intellectual rigor in Crimes & Misdemeanors, and Match Point had an even tougher, bleaker view of what it means for people to get ahead in the world no matter who stands in heir way. But all three of these movies seem to make up a trilogy - maybe we can call it his 'Dostoyevsky' series - with this one being what I should think is the capper of them. Now it's not an older businessman or a young upstart, but someone who has spent his life trying to figure out what it means to live a meaningful life in theory vs practice.

It may be the literalness of this comparison that will throw off some viewers. That and/or the narration. I have to say that is the one thing I'm really unsure of after seeing it for the first time; on the one hand it works with the realm of film noir, as in here are characters who are constantly plotting or trying to think their way through some sort of emotional or moral logic (and the moment where the plot really kicks off, it seems hard for me to figure how it could be done without voice-over), but on the other there are moments where it is too much, that a moment could work without the character's direction. On the other hand again, it's an existential comedy that takes itself very seriously, or a semi-romantic and dramatic love story that has some light touches (and that ending!) Irrational Man isn't great, but it's very good, exceeding any expectations I could've had, in large part thanks to a cast and, by the way, some really skillful and beautiful direction on the whole (and the warm cinematography, all shot in Newport, Rhode Island). I'll be curious if this gets re-evaluated in 10-15 years.

Abe unbound

Oh, even at 80 Woody Allen has more on the ball than the shlock Hollywood dulls our mind with. Fifty seven years ago, William Barrett published his 'Irrational Man', an apologia pro existentialism, high flavored with continental morbidity. At that time, the book sold well on collage campuses and among the high minded reading public; yet the hoi polloi didn't remain indifferent to the furies of modern life that would come from fear of atomic weapons. So, he comes Allen with a simple morality tale, wrapped in the gossamer wings of existentialism--Kirkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre and Heidigger. The protagonist Abe suffers from temporary impotency that middle age afflicts some men. Much admired for his brilliance as a philosopher, his poor performance in bed brings affects his ability to produce philosophy, until the day he decides to plan the perfect murder. And from that moment on he is Lazarus risen from the dead, fully of energy, with his sexual prowess fully restored and a new lease on life. And then the furies play the ultimate trick on his new found hubris, for the gods of randomness are not dead, and the haphazard roll of the dice of the universe grips the loose thread that unravels rationality. Joachim Phoenix incarnates Abe, wot, with his bedroom eyes and middle age paunch. Emma Stone as his lover and adoring student is a type that is Allen's ideal...from Diane Keaton to Mia Farrow...the gamine! 'Irrational Man' has restored a high tone of the celebrity intellectual that is absent from the angry old men that inhabit the denatured universe of what passes for thought. Allen has written an entertaining script that deserves better treatment than his critics give him credit, so many light years of credit that he is distant from their ho-hum chatter.