Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Old Jewish Men Are Funny. Old Rich Ladies Are Not.


     So, I recently checked out Woody's new pic, Whatever Works and I gotta say I'm never going to see a Woody Allen movie ever again. I really liked it so I should specify. I'm never going to see one in a theatre ever again. Hmmm maybe I should explain a little further. Allen's pictures have been consistently chilling in the 'good' to 'wicked-awesome' range since Match Point dropped in like, 2006 but unless I'm in a city with a population larger than 100,000 professor's wives pretending they are classy I will never see a Woody in cinemas ever again. It's not like I have a choice in the matter because as long as I'm stuck hanging in these golden horseshoe armpit towns I'll never be able to see a good movie at a public screening ever again! 

     Whatever Works sure doesn't have the dramatic meat of Match Point or Vicki Christina and it doesn't try to but it's charming and pretty damn funny. This is Allen's first movie made in New York in a long time and it shows that this cinematic outing is much more akin to his older works. (I guess his crazy European vacation is over?) But I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Sure he was getting a little stale in the nineties and early zeros with more bad movies than good but in his super old age his writing is achieving what seems like more wisdom and depth. 'Whatever' is like a nice mixed cocktail of his older, familiar style of witty character comedy that kept him going for around forty years combined with this breath of new life he's gotten from shooting in Europe. Either Europe of the bevy of hot babes he's been filming recently. Hurt me hurt me!

     Even though Woody is a golden god of filmmaking his stuff is still not considered to be commercial enough for North American multiplexes to screen, which is just fine. I mean who wants to drive into that treeless maze of streets and lawns known as the dreaded 'burbs just to wait in a noisy line with a bunch of overweight, mouth-breathers reeking of their lunch of all-dressed crispers and broken dreams. (By the way bitches I'll be going to see G.I. Joe this week for sure!)
     So many quality flicks are destined for independently owned screening rooms for short runs on tiny screens and small chairs. It all used to be very endearing when you could crack a bottle of hootch and watch Brick with a half a dozen other hippies "SLASH" politics majors but like everything in the world that used to be rad it was discovered by the worst people since Nazis; semi-rich old people who think they're important. Ugh, 'trendy' people. They eat at three-star patios and listen to jazz music or white people blues or world music or anything with a rain stick in it performed by a man with a pony tail. You know who I mean. Everyone has a "beamer" driving uncle or cousin somewhere just like that. They call pub food 'pedestrian' and have no idea what hip-hop is. If they ever read it's not for the pleasure of reading but so they can tell their crappy friends that they've read that book.

     Ontario Canada has produced as many of these crappy phonies as it has crappy wineries in the past ten years. They pretend to enjoy art and are under this illusion that keeps them thinking that everyone wants to hear their shitty opinion on the city's zoning and recycling policies or how much they hate university students. Their self-indulgent opinion outbursts only ever happen in the form of letters to the local paper or incredibly loudly at small, independently owned screening rooms where regular guys like me just want to see a good Woody Allen movie in peace. At least the Toby Keith lovers in the suburbs don't kid themselves about who they are. They are admirable in that sense if not any other. (More starch on that collar please? Boom!)

     It was very cool to see Larry David star in a movie that ten years ago Woody would have done himself and yes, that is the reason why I've been waiting for this picture for a very long time. Fucking Curb and Woody Allen together?!?! At last! Larry David may have been the biggest reason why this flick didn't turn into your typical Allen-Big Apple pic. The amazing Costanza; Larry David plus the evolution of Allen's writing equals sweet.


     The story is simple, the plot structure is nice and basic for a Woody pic and the dialogue and jokes are all very funny and typical Woody, (the 'fate knocking on your door gag is so cheesy it's wicked). But where it shines is, as usual the characters and the strong, well pronounced message. Well of course it's well pronounced, Boris Yellnikoff, (Larry 'cool as shit' David) asides directly to the audience throughout about what's happening in his life and how it affects his personal philosophy. Yellnikoff is a depressed, arrogant genius who believes that life is so random and meaningless and violent that what is the point of it all? He believes that you need to put primitive beliefs and social taboos aside and take whatever happiness you can while you can. Whatever works, right? His character does change in the end like any good script but like any good script from a squirrely nerd who's been writing character pieces for half a century the change in Yellnikoff is very subtle. His belief system doesn't change but rather his outlook on people changes and he becomes a more sunnier, social man. 

     The real fun comes from watching all the supporting characters and how they change for the better be it directly or indirectly from Yellnikoff's view. Gay, straight, young, old, whatever works! This is the wisdom and age I was talking about that's coming out in Woody's writing these days. He's a very intelligent seventy-four year old man who has developed a very smart and balanced world view. It's almost like this movie is a subtle teaching from his years of experience. I mean no one lives forever, right? He sure as shit knows it and in his own way he's letting us get wise to his jive. And if I was him I'd want to shoot Evan Rachel-Wood too. 

     It's funny that such a positive 'live for life' message may have gone right over the blue hair of all those old ladies in the theatre. Well wait, they probably went to uni forty years ago, they most likely understood it but they probably didn't get it. They were too busy being stoked that they were out seeing an 'indy' movie like all their trendy friends. Advertisers, as usual have really wised on to these wannabes and it never ceases to amaze me how easily they can hook their trout. Not even a fishing metaphor, they're more like grizzly bears slapping ten salmon out of the river at a time just for giggles. They're not even that hungry they're just doing it for kicks! 

     Before the movie started the projectionist showed two trailers for the crappiest looking foreign movies ever and the audience was just eating that shit up like brulee. It did however showcase to me two of the many ways to push heroine on yuppies. First was a trailer for Etz Limon or Lemon Tree and yeah, it's won awards and it looks pretty good. If you want to sell a drama that requires two-plus hours of reading to a bunch of greys with caddiracs then all you have to do is beef up super-awesome advertising ingredient number one: The Israili - Palestinian conflict. 

"A drama based on the true story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemontree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down" - IMDB

     Fucking boom! Right there! Just hand these geniuses the wheel-barrel of awards right now. Actually by now I think it's actually a truck-load. Yuppies just adore movies that make them seem smart and worldly. They love to show all their friends just how concerned they are about the most popular foreign conflicts by volvo-ing it down to the theatre to watch a movie about it. Hahaha! Just check this out it's absolutely brilliant! 

     I don't think I can even watch the trailer all the way through without laughing. Did you know that a woman behind me actually jumped and let out a little squeal of terror when the security guard draws his pistol on the indifferent old man?! (0:41) Amazing! How fake a person do you have to be to convince yourself that forty seconds into a trailer something as overseen in our society as a rubber movie gun can be 'scary'? I mean she sounded like a pig. "Easy, Babe, easy." But for reals it's like my favorite trailer ever now.

Super-awesome 'indy' movie advertising ingredient number deuce: Random shots of quirky things happening to an old man somewhere in Europe. 
     That shit is celluloid gold for your average pack of status-hungry yupps. The second trailer was for O' Horten. From what I gathered it's about an old train conductor retiring. Then is just goes off the rails. (Excuse the cliche, douche.) I had no idea what the fuck is happening but everyone was loving it! There's a man driving with a bag on his head, a guy sliding down an icy street, and what seemed like six minutes worth of 'kooky' stuff that Dan and Georgette would never think to do themselves for fear of looking like idiots in front of their chiropractor friends. But they'll see it so they can laugh at Europe's zany antics afterwards over fondue and Michael Buble. I can't even find a trailer for it on Youtube. All that comes up is 'Horton Hears A Who' and the constant reminder that the suburbs do exist and they are everywhere. 

     So to wrap up so we can all get back to wanking or fapping or whatever, Whatever Works was a very entertaining, funny little movie that I never want to see again until it comes out on DVD. It will be cheap on DVD because all the yupps will be buying on BluRay and everyone else will be busy buying Funny People and not asking who Woody Allen is. Good times.  

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