Posts Tagged ‘Woody Allen’

This week’s releases include: a cancer drama made lighter; a Woody Allen masterpiece; director Billy Wilder’s best picture winner; a man giving up everything for love; a spy with a difficult choice to make; a found-footage horror prequel; Rocky with robots; a woman haunted by her competition; a chance meeting leads to an unusual friendship; a murder mystery; a throwback adventure film; an eye-opening look at the Bosnian underworld; and a film that made Oscar history. (more…)

This week’s releases include: the tale of a vengeful killer; a political biopic; Woody Allen’s latest picture; a scary Christmas story; a survival narrative; a vampire-werewolf romance; and a family’s struggle worked out in MMA. (more…)

This week’s releases include: a captivating tale of envy and ambition; the epitome of love stories; a single location murder mystery; the third chapter in a Muay Thai extravaganza; a missile on rails; the latest Woody Allen picture; and a gorier sequel to a serial killer flick. (more…)

The negative attitude towards people and the belief in uncontrolled luck centre stage in this film are not a far-fetch from Woody Allen’s own views on life.

Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) is a crotchety hater of humankind that lives in selective isolation after a failed suicide attempt followed by a divorce from a picture-perfect wife and career as a physicist at Columbia. One night he reluctantly takes in Melody (Evan Rachel Wood), a naïve, impressionable teenage runaway from the South. Absorbing and learning from Boris’ insults directed at her and the world, Melody develops a crush on Boris and he finds himself viewing Melody in a less harsh light as well. The two get married and are relatively happy until Melody’s mother Marietta (Patricia Clarkson) appears on their doorstep, seeking her daughter and an escape from her cheating husband (Ed Begley Jr.). She faints upon learning Melody is married to an old, eccentric curmudgeon. Marietta unexpectedly develops into a sexually-free, boundary-pushing photographer that settles into a ménage à trois. However, still not content with her daughter’s choice, she schemes to unite Melody with a handsome actor (Henry Cavill) that claims to have fallen in love with Melody at first sight. Melody’s father eventually comes to New York too seeking to reunite his family but instead finds they are better off without him and he discovers he’s better off living without an oppressive lie. In the end, romantic partners uncouple and realign, learning there are no rules and you simply have to follow whatever works.

A typical component of Allen’s films is dialogue directed at the audience, rather than characters within the story world. In this case, Boris has several monologues spoken to the audience, directly at the camera. His genius is displayed through the fact that no one except Boris is capable of realizing there is an audience watching.

Whatever Works is character driven and explores the eccentricities of relationships and living a life that makes you happy. While Boris’ pessimism can be nagging, it’s nearly distressing when Melody begins to emit his negativity (what she understands of it anyway) like a poisoned sponge.

David’s character is similar to his Curb Your Enthusiasm counterpart, but more hateful as he doesn’t even crave love or sex. Even with the similarity, David was an ideal choice for this part, which was to originally be played by Zero Mostel before his passing. Wood’s portrayal of a dumb, inexperienced pageant queen lost in the big city and struggling to hold onto the first security she finds is impeccable. Watching, you just want to protect her from being gobbled up by the world or worn down by Boris. The supporting cast is also wonderful, with Clarkson’s entertaining transition from uptight Southern belle to free-wheeling artist and Cavil’s only real responsibility being be British and charming.

This is another amusing romp down unconventional lane with Allen and it’s as enjoyable as ever.


Woody Allen made a film without Scarlett Johansson. Coincidentally, it’s quite a bit better than his last few ventures.

Ian (Ewan McGregor) is unsatisfied with his lot in life. Instead of taking over his dad’s restaurant, he’s saving to invest in American hotels. He yearns to be like his well-off, exotic uncle (Tom Wilkinson). Ian’s brother Terry (Colin Farrell) is a compulsive gambler with a steady girl. But a lucky streak gets the boys enough cash to pay off their dream boat, which they fittingly name Cassandra’s Dream after the 60-1 long shot. But quick enough they’re in over their heads – Ian needs more investment money and Terry is in major debt. Their uncle has a solution to their problems, but it means a significant moral compromise on their part.

Allen returns to providing his intriguing character examinations, as well as an illustration of the great lengths a man will go to to keep a woman that’s probably out of his league. After several disappointments (with the exception of Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Allen has finally produced a film worthy of his time and ours.

Farrell and McGregor are wonderful; and Farrell once again displays his very competent acting chops. As they are very different people, their relationship as brothers is not based on how alike they are but on how they relate to each other, which they do in a very brotherly way. They match each other’s enthusiasm and melancholy nicely.

As with any Allen DVD release, there are no special features to evaluate.