Irrational Man, i. e. humans can only be irrational to continue living (by dommesta)
I find it interesting how many people separate philosophy and reality. It is not the case with Woody, though. What he said in Cannes press conference - there is reality and there are distractions from it. Reality is that we will die, our loved ones will die and all our work will disappear. Even if you are Michelangelo. To keep ourselves going we have to distract ourselves constantly thinking that our activity is important and meaningful. If Emma Stone wasn't stressed about her performance in "Irrational Man", she would be laying somewhere in beach thinking... how pointless life <more>
is. I believe this is the main message of "Irrational Man". If you understand the reality, you are like Abe - detached, depressed and without lust for life. Once you start thinking that your life has meaning and your actions are important - voilà, you are happy and enthusiastic, even though those actions are pointless or even morally wrong .I love when titles of the films by Woody reveal a lot about the essence of the film remember "Whatever Works", "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger", "Match Point", "Anything Else" . I don't remember the plot of "Whatever Works" but this phrase settled in my head, I simply cannot get rid of it even after years of watching the film. This is as well why it is "Irrational Man". Or, man, i.e. human being, is irrational. If people would be rational and would realize they are just tiny dots in the universe, they would not find a reason to live. When Abe found his distraction from reality he finally started living. This is where human irrationality is. No rational being would continue living knowing what is awaiting for him. For me this is incredibly powerful message and I am pretty sure this will stay with me for longer period of time.
Philosophy prof kills judge to renew life spirit (by maurice_yacowar)
Though Woody Allen's film centers upon a professor of philosophy — the epitome of rationality — it's titled Irrational Man. Abe Lucas Joaquin Phoenix shows how carrying the rational to its extreme becomes madness. Reason should not abandon humanity and morality.Allen introduces that theme when Abe cites — and counters — Kant's argument that in the perfect world nobody should lie. If the gestapo ask if you're hiding Anne Frank you have to tell the truth. Otherwise you're opening a universe of lies. Abe overrides Kant here. Philosophy has to be subordinated to the <more>
harsh realities of life. Theory is insufficient to making the world a better, more responsible place. You have to trust your gut response — the visceral level of your humanity — over any philosophic theory. This truth his student/lover Jill Emma Stone intuits when she slowly comes to realize her Abe killed Judge Spangler. Despite her love for Abe and her equal disgust for what she has heard about the custody lawyer, she realizes Abe's guilt and his need to accept the blame to save the innocent suspect's life. Her emotional commitment to Abe is subordinated to her moral reflex, which Kant and the make-your-own-life Existentialists spurn. Spangler's name shimmeringly evokes Spengler, whose Decline of the West Spangler and Abe come to personify: an indulgent self-serving abuse of social responsibility.The two women in Lucas's present bed-life are in telling disciplines. Rita Parker Posey is a chemist, who has an immediate animal attraction to Abe — even before meeting him — and briefly enjoys his phallic/spiritual revival. When she guesses his possible guilt she laughs it off with him. Even if he is guilty, she will leave her husband to run off to Europe with Abe. Rita is the learned animal acting on animal instinct and body chemistry. Jill plays classical piano and is the daughter of two Music profs. She represents social and cultural tradition, harmony and the discipline of classical music. It's outside her piano lesson that Abe tries to kill her and falls down his own shaft. Rita is a prof, world-, marriage- and profession-weary, but Jill is still a student, earnest, courageous before the frightening world opening before her. Her gut response is a moral one, where Abe's was a coldly analytic i.e., theoretical philosophy one that gave him a new zest for life — at the cost of another's death. That book won't balance. It proves the emptiness of Existentialism. Jill's moral backbone reflects in the ending. At the amusement park she hopes Abe won't think she's "practical" for choosing a little flashlight for her prize. That little machine of light saves her life when Abe slips on it in his attack. Her gut reflex of morality — the assumption of man's essential goodness — makes her the embodiment of liberal humanism, more positive than the modern Europeans, however suspect in Republican America.Allen's recurring use of The Ramsay Lewis Trio's "The 'In' Crowd" contrasts to Jill's disciplined harmonies. The theme recalls Abe's characterization as an outsider, not just as an orphan, drunk and womanizer, but a misfit even among the university's collective faculty of misfits. This jazz is loose, improvisational, yet a steady repetition of its own phrasing. Most significantly, throughout the turmoil in Abe's and Jill's minds and hearts, throughout the danger of science and reason overriding morality and humanity, the jazz plays on with the sociables partying, laughing and clapping on the recording . As Nero fiddled when Rome burned our intellectuals exercise their abstruse theories, indulging themselves, while the world order crumbles. Analytic philosophy may be, as Abe teaches, verbal masturbation but the potential inhumanity of the European philosophers is far more damaging to others. There's a minor comic theme running through this film, a kind of fan dance that Allen seems to be doing with the critics. He mines the plot with enough jocular echoes of his own recent life to tempt them not to look — or, heaven forfend, even to think — beyond them. The prof has an affair with a much younger student — though here the prof deflects the girl's intentions for a considerable time, until his ill-regained energies betray him. He also plays the mentor figure in the relationship, considered ambivalent since Plato's vision and still a shadow across Allen's 20-year ! marriage. Then, too, the villain his hero kills is a corrupt judge who has proved heartless in his judgment on a child custody case. Remind you of anything? On the one hand Allen shows how theories have to be inflected to accommodate the complexities of real life, especially humanity and the need for a moral compass. On the other he tosses in these playful nods at his own life to see if his critics can transcend their own biases and predispositions to grapple with his larger themes.Many have failed. Several columnists have complained that Woody is aging gracelessly, self-indulgently, as he replays his creepy December-June romance, and that his films are dull and repetitious. To them I have two responses. i This is as thoughtful, stylish, intellectually rigorous and moving a film as we've had this year. And funny to boot. ii Isn't it wonderful that even at 80, once a year our old friend Woody drops by to engage with us and to talk about what's on his mind now. For such relief, much thanks.
I don't get why it has such poor ratings. Yes, it is again the theme of Crime and Punishment, but from another perspective. I found it thrilling, surprising and smart. The thoughts of Raskolinkov where much deeper and way more depressive than the philosophy professor. He didn't suffer the same punishment. He was rather punished by fate. I also enjoyed the cast and their acting. Emma Stone is really great. Didn't expect to see her in Woody Alen's movies. For everyone who is tired of commercial blockbusters, I recommend it. Joaquin Phoenix is very talented. There is something <more>
special about him. I cannot wait to see the next Woody Alen's movie. I loved Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment too. And I disagree that his other movies were the same. The idea of crime and what someone feels after committing it, this is what it is common. Love him!
Involving tense funny and original (by phd_travel)
For those who like 'Match Point' which I feel is a masterpiece, this is a more comic but equally interesting movie. The tone and music are more comical and light hearted but it's really quite nail biting when things come together.Joaquin acts like a depressed person like no one else can and he's very suited to the role of the professor, pot belly and all. Parker Posey is quite hilarious as the colleague who throws herself at him. Emma Stone looks less bulgy eyed and clever than usual. The way she chooses the wrong guy over a good boyfriend is quite real.Like the coastal <more>
setting, more natural and outdoors than usual for Woody Allen.There have been some negative reviews from critics but I don't understand why. This movie is original, funny, exciting and you care for the characters and listen to the dialog.
Magnificent. Existentialsim is the opiate of the Literati. (by Stewball)
WARNING: Action junkies and those adverse to heavy emphasis on dialogue, proceed at your own risk of brain lockup or catatonia at the mere discussion of the film. Any comparison between what those with such a disposition would feel having to sit through it, and the straight-jacketed, eyelids held open Alex in "A Clockwork Orange", is more than a perfect analogy. There's only one small, climactic action sequence at the end. In line with all that, a brief refresher in existentialism: "Søren Kierkegaard 1813-1855 is generally considered to have been the first existentialist <more>
philosopher, though he did not use the term existentialism. He proposed that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely "authentically" "--Wiki. I emphasize that Kierkegaard didn't name it; and as it's expressed in Wikipedia, his concept was very reasonable. FF 160 years into the future to what that concept, under the existential label, has been bastardized into during the intervening years--a training ground for psychobabble, making theology seem like a maze with no turns. Thus it makes perfect sense that our hapless, confused philosophy professor, seeking existential enlightenment, should assume the mantle of the title character. If religion is the opiate of the masses, then it follows that Existentialism is the opiate of the Literati. I'm not a Woody Allen fan in any sense, but if I hadn't known he directed and wrote it, I never would have guessed so. But it's far and away the best thing he's done that I've seen inmynevertobehumbleopinion Every aspect of movie making, especially the dialogue, cinematography, story line, and the excellent casting with one exception , is perfect. About that exception: what's with Jamie Blackley getting top billing, alphabetically or otherwise, over the other three primaries--especially Emma Stone who had the most difficult part, the most screen time, and redeemed both herself and Woody Allen after their last collaborative abomination, "Magic in the Moonlight". And who is the hell is Jamie Blackley anyway; his part was secondary, and his performance was blah at best. What's going on there, some nepotism......or worse? Major spoilers follow As for the moral issues the movie raises, the first, the murder of the judge, is not so cut and dried as it is made to appear. If you see someone about to be murdered and you kill the perp instead, are you not justified? If you have no other way to prevent a corrupt authority figure from perpetrating a horrific injustice with diligent fact checking and exploring other avenues of resolution, which the story took license to assume , what would, or should you do? If you do take action, you must assume responsibility for the correctness of your judgement, and for the system resolution that follows.I was spellbound, making this my #2 movie, and most thought provoking out of 72 so far , in theaters this year. Magnificent, 9.5/10
The impractical becomes the practical (by StevePulaski)
After a streak of films set in the extravagant lands of London, Berlin, and Rome, stopping briefly to shoot in San Francisco and New York City, the unstoppable force of cinema Woody Allen sets "Irrational Man," his latest picture, in glamorous Rhode Island. Romanticizing academia and making it equal parts sexy and breezily paced, he focuses on philosophy professor and writer Abe Lucas Joaquin Phoenix , who has just been hired in his respective department at Braylin College, a tiny liberal arts school. Abe is cynical and disillusioned with his life following all the promises he made <more>
as an adolescent to incite change in the world until losing his mother to suicide and his best friend on a trip to provide relief in Darfur. He spends his days at Braylin slugging away at single malt scotch in a flask and wallowing in self-loathing and crushed dreams.Abe becomes friends with Jill Pollard Emma Stone , a perky young student of his who picks his brain every chance she gets, whether it be about existentialism, a conversational favorite of his, or his own personal life. While Abe will answer any question she has, catering to her curiosities and human interest, he still is in an ostensibly irreparable funk. Even wrapping himself up in an affair with Rita Parker Posey , a science professor, doesn't excite him, for his impotence makes love-making nearly impossible and the pleasure achieved by an orgasm has ceased to exist.However, while eating breakfast with Jill one day, both of them overhear a conversation occurring in the booth next to them between a woman and her friends about a brutal courtroom custody battle she is a entangled in and how she will soon lose her kids because her husband's lawyer and the judge are good friends. Here, for the first time in a long time, Abe is excited - thrilled, even - to realize he has a potential to commit a moral act that will benefit the woman and society in addition to reclaiming the thrill of existence everyone but him seems to indulge in."Irrational Man" focuses on that tipping point past depression where you're just content with everything about you and around you sucking. You stick with your passion in this case, philosophy because it's convenient and makes being upright during the day something more tolerable, but in your head, you're long gone dead and in search of a person, an event, or just about anything to make you appreciate being alive. Consider a scene where Jill drags Abe to a party, only for him to lie on the couch sulking and slugging away at his beer. When the host reveals her father's revolver in the closet, however, Abe becomes entranced with playing a game of Russian Roulette with himself. While the partygoers freak out at his potential suicide, he claims that it's an existentialist lesson about the thrill of being alive you cannot find in a textbook. Perhaps I'm cynical or just young and dripping with idealism , but he's right.Abe's plan to realize his potential morality makes sense, but to carry it out is to commit an amoral and heartless action I was on the fence about spoiling what said act is, but I'll leave it hush-hush . However, Abe is so far past the point of rationality, paradoxically, given his field of thought, he can only act irrationally. It's the only school of thought that makes sense to him at this point - that's how far gone he is as a person.Joaquin Phoenix is the ideal actor for Abe, given how many roles Phoenix has thrown himself into that allow complete and total focus on him as a complex, layered individual, sometimes too smart and peculiar for his own good. Allen seems to know just how to utilize him as an actor too, giving him thoughtful ideas to expand on in the presence of Jill or his students, but ultimately, makes him out to be what he is - a troubled soul who isn't thinking clearly or perhaps he is and the rest of us are delusional .This is Emma Stone's second venture with Allen, the first being Allen's last picture "Magic in the Moonlight," a criminally underrated and unseen film. Stone keeps her aura similar here, an idealistic millennial coming into a stranger's life at a time where he needs an outsider perspective, despite refusing it every turn. She and Phoenix develop a terrific chemistry with one another, and she has the charm and talent to be a potential Allen regular who can mold and fit herself into nearly any scenario she's given - the sign of a great actress.Where "Magic in the Moonlight" caught Allen in a mood that questioned spirituality and the practice of spiritism, "Irrational Man" catches him in a philosophical, existentialist one, posing a curious duality to his last film. "Irrational Man" becomes a film about the paradox of a man in a practical field committing the most impractical act to nearly everyone else, but the most practical one in his own mind. Littered with wry humor, a great deal of suspense and curiosity, despite us, the audience, being with these characters and their actions every step of the way, and a great deal of philosophical insights to chew on or spit out, this is the third big winner in a row from Allen, who is unstoppable in creating these fantastic comedy-dramas that few make anymore.
I saw this movie today and it was just a breath of fresh air. In this era of political correctness and the consequent surge of tragicomedies that seem to be made to drive home the point that everything in life must be serious, Woody, in his infinite wisdom, has prescribed us a style of comedy often hated, misunderstood, and forgotten: the murder comedy a la Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux. I haven't laughed this hard at someone trying to kill another person since Preston Sturges's 1948 film Unfaithfully Yours, even though it's ultimately a much more understated English style of <more>
humor very Comedy of Manners-ish. As such, it doesn't surprise me that Irrational Man has been hated by most critics, since they are likely to fall into the trap of expecting that this movie will be one of the aforementioned tragicomedies, and thus simply think it fails to deliver. Instead, here Woody seems to find comedy in everything from Kant to sexism to suicide to faculty gossip, and as a consequence, the movie ends up as loose as his "early funny movies," unfortunately adding just another layer that might further confuse audiences. Essentially, if you don't find the satire quick you just won't understand what you're watching. On the actor side of things, Stone and Joaquin really kill it. It almost feels like they can turn the intensity up as easily as turning a knob, and there are three moments when you really get a sense of how far they can go.This will certainly be on a list of Woody's most underrated movies in ten years time if the bad reception it gets doesn't slow down, and I hope that people will take the time to realize just what this movie is because I think they'd really have a good time watching it.
Woody doing Philosophy Noir rounds out a trilogy - underrated though flawed (by Quinoa1984)
Sometimes a guy can't catch a break, and it may be for good reason. With Woody Allen and the critics of Irrational Man, one may think there's a rational reason, no clever spin intended. Here's a man who is spectacular at what he does, but he doesn't have the most immense range of the American iconoclast-auteurs - by this point, after writing films for 50 years and directing for over 45, critics and most audiences get the gist of what the man works with: some occasional fantasy, light-hearted comedy, serious, brooding drama, romance, mystery, magic, existentialism and the <more>
separation of reality and fantasy. But for myself, I went into this trying to take it just on its own terms: does it work as its own story, as to what it's trying to do, with or without the author's baggage? I think it does, often quite well, and it makes a sort of cap to an unexpected, thematic trilogy of movies, which I'll get to in a moment.In Irrational Man it starts out like what seems to be a story of a philosophy professor Phoenix caught in despair, while an eager, bright student Stone starts to fancy him. He's blocked, he can't seem to write or "sleep with" Parker Posey's character early on , and he drinks fairly heavily Phoenix adds a pot belly to the mix . But its main turning point turns it into what is a Hitchcockian tale of murder and deception, all due to eavesdropping on the sad tale of a cruel judge presiding over a custody case. It turns this professor's life around, albeit with a rather dark twist.By Hitchcockian it's easy to throw that label around, but this is a filmmaker who has previously used a scene from Shadow of a Doubt I forget which movie, but I remember characters watching it in one of his films , and now has some elements taken from it. Hey, how about a discussion in a very lively, satirical manner about the best way to go about a murder? Or what if it's a complete stranger with a poison of some kind? At the same time Allen throws in Emma Stone, once again after 'Moonlight' but here now modern and always great to look at as a star on screen with full-on talent and energy to burn with her co-star. Phoenix, meanwhile, gets a lot of this man's despair, and then his odd joy too - though Phoenix may not seem like the most spot-on actor to show 'energy' in the later half of the film, he is still completely there for what this character requires.What I liked about Irrational Man, even with some of its familiarity in the Allen world - professor with a younger student romantically, questions of morality, what it means when PURE luck really defines what happens for people - is that it was genuine about how its characters saw and changed with their views on the world, and that on its own you get wrapped up in the question of "Will he really get away with this?" To be sure, this question was asked with greater intellectual rigor in Crimes & Misdemeanors, and Match Point had an even tougher, bleaker view of what it means for people to get ahead in the world no matter who stands in heir way. But all three of these movies seem to make up a trilogy - maybe we can call it his 'Dostoyevsky' series - with this one being what I should think is the capper of them. Now it's not an older businessman or a young upstart, but someone who has spent his life trying to figure out what it means to live a meaningful life in theory vs practice.It may be the literalness of this comparison that will throw off some viewers. That and/or the narration. I have to say that is the one thing I'm really unsure of after seeing it for the first time; on the one hand it works with the realm of film noir, as in here are characters who are constantly plotting or trying to think their way through some sort of emotional or moral logic and the moment where the plot really kicks off, it seems hard for me to figure how it could be done without voice-over , but on the other there are moments where it is too much, that a moment could work without the character's direction. On the other hand again, it's an existential comedy that takes itself very seriously, or a semi-romantic and dramatic love story that has some light touches and that ending! Irrational Man isn't great, but it's very good, exceeding any expectations I could've had, in large part thanks to a cast and, by the way, some really skillful and beautiful direction on the whole and the warm cinematography, all shot in Newport, Rhode Island . I'll be curious if this gets re-evaluated in 10-15 years.
'those later funny ones' (by christopher-underwood)
I enjoyed this even more than my rating suggests and I haven't scored it higher because it didn't make me want to see it again straightaway, which is basically my rationale for giving a film tops. Why not? Because, I think, I simply loved everything about this film and sat smiling and tingling not sure what was coming next but loving it all and I don't think all that would happen second time. Daft? Yes, maybe but certainly this is a must see film, perfectly constructed with full on comedic script and intelligent and sparkling dialogue. There is even a bit of action! Woody gives a <more>
nod here to Strangers on a Train but i think he he were honest there is even more of 'Dexter'. Its that clever mix of logic, rationality, morality, sin and humour. Lots of little things amused me, I particularly liked the elements of 'chance' and the astute and sharp critiques of various philosophers. i also enjoyed being surprised and never quite knowing where this was going - just loving the ride. This is most defiantly like 'one of those early funny ones, indeed we may have to start referring to 'those later funny ones' if Woody Allen carries on at this rate. Excellent.