Sunday, June 21, 2009

WHATEVER WORKS (2009)


Written & Directed by Woody Allen


Where & When: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena, CA June 21, 2009, 8:00PM



I have to admit that I really didn't get Woody Allen. I had seen "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan" and I didn't see what all the fuss was about. Of course, I was sixteen around the time those films came out and his films were too serious and too "adult" for me. I didn't understand what the characters were babbling on about. "Grease" and "Star Wars" were the type of movies that appealed to me at that time although I had sneak in to see "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex" when I was about eleven. I thought it was kinda funny... and weird. I didn't completely get that movie when I saw it at that time either.

I have since seen "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan" (and the "Sex" movie) as a more mature person and I really enjoyed them but the first film that I actually "got" and made me appreciate Mr. Allen's talent is "Hannah And Her Sisters". I loved his sense of humor and his vision as a filmmaker. I have seen almost everything he has made every since. Not all great but I still enjoyed seeing them. Today, my partner, Dean and I went to see Mr. Allen's fortieth film as a director, "Whatever Works". I really liked it although he doesn't stray from his usual themes: the meaning of life, the fear of death, and a questionable fascination with much younger women.

Larry David plays Boris Yelnikoff, a pessimistic, self proclaimed "genius" who has a very dark view of the world. Boris can also see the audience watching this film while no one else can. People think that he's crazy but he speaks to us and proceeds to tell us his story. One day, Boris was returning home when a young woman is living at the bottom of his stairs. Her name is Melodie St. Ann Celestine (Evan Rachel Wood) and she begs Boris to give her a meal. Boris is obviously suspicious but he gives in and let's her into his home.

Melodie has runaway from home in a small town in Mississippi to start a new life in the big city. She has not experienced much in life and is impressed by Boris and his apparent wisdom. Against his better judgement, he lets Melodie stay with him until she gets settled and finds a job. Over time, Boris fills Melodie's impressionable mind with his point of view of the world and she appreciatively soaks it all in. Boris has fought his feelings for Melodie but he finds himself in love with her. So despite an at least a forty year age difference, Boris asks Melodie to marry him and she accepts.

A year later, Melodie's mother, Marietta (Patricia Clarkson), a devout woman, is knocking on their door. The sight of her long lost daughter in the arms of a man too old for even herself is too much for her to bear. We find out that Melodie's father has left her mother for her best friend. Marietta is appalled by Boris and New York but she eventually warms up to the city... but not to Boris. She turns her back on her religion. She decides to stay and she starts an unconventional new love life and new career as an artist. She also wants to find a nice, young man for her daughter. Melodie's father (Ed Begley, jr.) shows up and wants to make amends with his wife. He's a little late but he also discovers a new side of himself he has been suppressing while in the city. Melodie reluctantly finds herself getting involved with a man her mother has set up her with which leads her to be torn between her new love and Boris.

"Whatever Works" is a typical Woody Allen film, so you can expect a well written, well acted and kinda funny sort of film. Although this is certainly not his best but if you are a fan, you won't be disappointed. And to be honest even if you aren't a huge fan, you will be entertained.