Opposing Reviews: Melissa & Liz review Woody Allen’s ‘Irrational Man’ with Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone & Parker Posey

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Summary:

Liz and I often agree on movies, but there are occasions where we do not, and Irrational Man is one of them. As it rolls out to theaters across the country, starting with this weekend, we thought you might like to read two different opinions. Enjoy!

Melissa

Looking through the stills of Irrational Man, I almost remember it fondly. Seeing these characters without the context of the movie, they are attractive and happy. Within the movie, Joaquin is a bitter, drunk college professor with some sort of social disorder and a Emma is a student who falls in love with her teacher.

So what’s it about? Abe (Joaquin Phoenix) is the new philosophy professor whose cynical yet brilliant ideas attract a student, Jill (Emma Stone) as well as a colleague, Rita (Parker Posey). Ok, another example of a young woman attracted to an older man. But wait, is it?

I’m typically a Woody Allen fan, but I didn’t care for the last movie with Emma Stone, Magic in the Moonlight, either. In this, Emma is way too eager and without a likeable personality. She knows she’s a silly girl, yet she doesn’t shy away from it. Parker Posey is even more manic than expected and it actually works pretty well. She’s a bright spot.

Joaquin seems totally miscast and never really gets into the role. His words don’t seem natural at all and come off as though he’s adding words on his own. It kills me, as I’ve loved everything he’s been in.

The story is pretty original however, with unexpected turns, especially the ending. As per usual with a Woody Allen movie, it’s beautifully shot and edited. The soundtrack is unbelievably repetitive, with the same piano version of “Judy In Disguise” playing over and over again in pretty much every scene. I had never noticed this in Allen’s movies before, but I certainly noticed it this time around.

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Liz

On the flip side of the coin, I found this film to be pretty delightful. There is no mistaking this is pure Woody Allen fare. Punctuated by loose jazz standards, quippy, fast-paced dialogue, including dairy-esque monologues moving the film’s plot along nicely. It’s not too far fetched that one overheard conversation can change the course of your life forever, but certainly for amusing and dramatic purposes, this one is pretty over the top. The plot also revolves heavily around the concentration of philosophy, which is the subject Joaquin’s character teaches. One of the best tongue in cheek lines is a direct quote from his portrayal of Abe, ” Philosophy is verbal masturbation.” This is kind of the perfect way to describe Allen’s writing style in general and I think you either gravitate towards it, or you don’t.

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I was certainly pleased with all the performances in the film. Emma Stone‘s Jill is eager, bright, yet her flippant idolatry for her professor is not so far fetched. It’s a strong performance she owns with ease. Phoenix, for me, was perfectly cast as Abe. His jaded, depression filled, existential crisis excuses are anything but boring. It was refreshing to see him in something with a biting sense of humor as far as the script is concerned. And then we have my girl, Parker Posey as Rita. I’ve been a huge fan since her Waiting For Guffman and House of Yes days. She has an uncanny ability to slip into whatever role is thrown at her. Her genuine nonchalance as a bored fellow professor is just the best. Being of the same age and stage as Abe gives the two a breezy interaction that allows Posey to shine as a real person. Not a caricature of a woman, but a really well written woman, with hopes, dreams, opinions, unafraid and yet still completely vulnerable. I would have watched a full film about Rita.

So, there you go movie fans. Two Woody Allen fans with two very different opinions of the same film. I guess you’ll just have to buy a ticket and find out for yourself. Irrational  Man opens in theaters this weekend opening in more theaters throughout the coming weeks.

If I Chose the Academy Award Winners and Nominees – 2015 edition

I’ve now seen most of the films that had a release in 2014. This makes me more qualified to vote for the Oscars than 97.548% of the Academy’s membership. With the Oscar ceremony occurring tonight, I’ve picked, as I have the previous two years, who I think the nominees and winners should be in the bulk of the major categories. Once again, the foreign film category will be left off because I simply haven’t had access to enough foreign films to make a comment on them. Those that have made it to my neck of the woods, I will say, have been very good for the most part. Read More →

Michael’s Review: ‘Inherent Vice’- A Trip Into the Weird With Paul Thomas Anderson

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The brilliance of director Paul Thomas Anderson shines through in this adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s quirky stoner mystery of the same name, Inherent Vice. A film that many view as a companion piece to Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, the story plays out like controlled chaos set in a psychedelic dream and will take your senses on one of the wildest rides you will view this year. Set in early 1970’s Los Angeles, we are introduced to a cast of characters ranging from a Jack Webb-esque LA detective to a hippie saxophonist snitch, all of which reside within this vast world of intrigue. The power is in the control of the narrative as you immerse yourself into the life of “Doc” (Joaquin Phoenix), a private detective and lead dog on this hippie-style hunt. Read More →

NYFF52 Melissa’s Review: ‘Inherent Vice’ – Will You Dig It?

309431id1h_InherentVice_Teaser_27x40_1Sheet_6C.inddThere’s usually one movie that’s more anticipated than all others during the New York Film Festival, and this year it’s Inherent Vice. I won’t tell you how long I waited in the press line, but I will tell you it was cold, rainy and worth every minute. I hadn’t seen the trailer, I only knew it was Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix. After last year’s two-punch of The Immigrant and Her, I was even more on board for another Joaquin Phoenix film.  Read More →

NYFF52: ‘Inherent Vice’ gets an encore screening this Sunday!

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Inherent Vice, the centerpiece screening of the New York Film Festival is getting another screening this Sunday, so you have another chance to catch it!

Check out the press conference with 12 members of the cast including director Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix! (although Mr Phoenix was sadly mute) Read More →

New York Film Festival Announces Main Slate! ‘Gone Girl’ – ‘Inherent Vice’ – ‘Birdman’ – ‘Foxcatcher’

We at Reel News Daily love film festivals and one of our very favorite is the New York Film Festival because they often have the most anticipated and unexpected treasures. Stay tuned for our coverage!

  • 2 World Premieres
  • 5 North American Premieres
  • 13 U.S. Premieres
  • 10 New York Premieres
  • Only 1 Joaquin Phoenix movie (sadface)

Read More →