Irrational Man – Woody Allen

Irrational Man starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, and Parker Posey.

While not quite up to par in terms of his recent works (Magic in the Moonlight, the Oscar-winning Blue Jasmine, and Midnight in Paris) Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man still manages to be moderately amusing and light in a way that only fans of the Director/Writer will appreciate. This movie in particular will not likely appeal to as many people as Woody Allen’s other films of the last decade. Starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role as Abe Lucas, the disillusioned alcoholic and mopey philosophy professor, and Emma Stone as Jill, the philosophy student inexplicably drawn to him, Irrational Man follows their friendship and Abe’s odd journey to finding a reason to keep living.

Prior to discovering his purpose in life, Abe was living a drunken existence without meaning (or sex). He was once an accomplished writer, philosopher, and philanthropist but lost his way when he realized he would never be able to bring real change to the world.  When he starts to focus on changing the world for one person, his outlook immediately changes and he begins an elaborate plan to execute the good deed. While he sees his tasks as completely rational, from the outside world it is completely the opposite, hence the name of the film. The concepts in Irrational Man are both light and dark, which is typical of a Woody Allen film

The film is just over an hour and a half, which makes it a quick watch by today’s standards. It didn’t “drag on” and while the ending may leave you a bit stunned (but not entirely disappointed), Irrational Man doesn’t leave you with any lingering feelings towards it, good or bad. It’s not likely to be a film you will watch again, but it’s also not something that will make you angry for wasting your precious time.

Irrational Man originally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 and saw a wider release in August 2015. The majority of the box office totals ($27M) came from the foreign market

Watch the official trailer here:

 

 

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Magic in the Moonlight – Woody Allen

Magic in the Moonlight starring Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver

Magic in the Moonlight starring Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, & Jacki Weaver

He did it again! Woody Allen is undoubtedly one of the greats, but his style and flavour don’t always appeal to the masses. His newest gem, however, has a light heartedness to it (not unlike his movie Scoop) that everyone can fall in love with.

Just as Blue Jasmine was seemingly written with Cate Blanchett in mind, it is impossible to imagine anyone other than Colin Firth playing the cynical magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight. Early on in the film, Stanley is tasked with debunking a young psychic medium’s claim that she can communicate with the dead and predict the future. He soon becomes enthralled by her abilities and can’t seem to crack the case. Emma Stone plays the lovely Sophie who appears to be using her talents to work her way into a prominent family residing in the beautiful French Riviera. While Stone’s performance compliments Firth’s, there is no denying his ability to captivate the audience with his delivery of often pessimistic and mocking sentiments, all the while remaining completely loveable. You watch Stanley’s view of life unravel before your eyes as he struggles to accept the idea of an afterlife as well as another foreign quality of life….happiness. Having been unashamedly logical and certain of everything in his life, this seemingly unsolvable mystery changes everything.

Like most Woody Allen films, the plot is simple and easy to follow; it’s the writing and the characters that make the movie an absolute delight to watch. Magic in the Moonlight has the air of an older film (it is set in the 1920’s after all) where witty dialogue, a cleverly placed twist, and a satisfying ending are the key components. While the location is undeniably lovely, there is no elaborate set design and the costumes suit the time period but do not distract from the rest of the film. The balance is perfect.

At just over an hour and a half, the length of the film is ideal. Unlike other summer movies, it is one that can easily be fit into a weekday evening after work and won’t leave you emotionally or physically drained. It is virtually a guarantee that you will be grinning like an idiot throughout the entire thing, so the most you will leave with are sore cheeks.