The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Irrational Man (Sony Pictures Classics)
Written & Directed by Woody Allen
Woody Allen syndrome (Formerly Kevin Smith syndrome [Formerly Roger Corman disease]) Also known as the attack of the lazy film-maker. The act of phoning it in because your early work has earned you many loyal fans. Fans who will see every piece of shit movie you release. When a director’s fan base ruins their creativity. Forces them into a comfort zone out of which they never have to venture because the base is large enough to support making the same garbage again and again. The moment I lose respect for my heroes.
Irrational Man is not a good movie. It’s the same old thing from Woody Allen. His movies are about people behaving badly or about May-December romances or some philosophy lesson. Irrational Man is about a philosophy professor who gets into a romance with a young student and then commits the perfect murder. We’ve all seen this one before from Woody Allen. He’s been running over the same old ground for a while.
I’ve seen this review before. Every year there’s a new Woody Allen film and I say the same thing. Blah blah blah. I used to be a big fan. Blah blah blah. I don’t judge him by his personal life but by his work. Blah blah blah. His work hasn’t been good for a long time because he never takes chances. He puts himself on the screen and calls it courage. But we already know him. He’s an old man who likes young girls, wants to kill someone and get away with it (I’m not gonna say who) and thinks his knowledge of European philosophers qualifies him to comment on other people’s lives.
So this is a pattern of shitty work from me and him. Yet every four years or so he comes up with something mildly good. Or gets a wonderful performance out of an actor. Or finds that old Woody Allen that’s been buried under the personal baggage, psychological issues and old age. But Irrational Man is not one of those films. It’s a film made for his fans. The folks that see all his films no matter how bad. I watched this happen with Kevin Smith. He had enough die-hard fans to justify his crappy work. Like Kevin, Woody can just do different versions of Clerks for the rest of his career.
Irrational Man stars Woody’s latest muse, Emma Stone. She’s lovely and her acting style and cadence is perfect for Allen’s words. Joaquin Phoenix is great here but he’s great in everything. There was a time, when he was still good at his job, when I would remark how every character and every actor in a Woody Allen film sounded like him. But these days he finds these actors fully formed. Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone. They already sound like him. And this is all he has to do for the rest of his career.
Irrational Man is a collection of scenes from other Woody Allen movies stitched together to form something new this year. Every year he does the same thing. Woody keeps churning out films like a zombie. He’s a zombie director.The mind is dead but the body is still technically still alive.