The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) — As a little kid, future filmmaker Woody Allen was preoccupied with three things – baseball, magic and murder.

It’s that last one that serves as the grist for his latest film, Irrational Man, which opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

In Irrational Man, Allen explores themes of morality, infidelity, passivity and mortality, familiar ground for fans of earlier fare such as Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Match Point.

Joaquin Phoenix plays a disaffected philosophy professor, Abe, who has all but checked out of life until he meets a star pupil portrayed by Emma Stone. Through a random overheard conversation in a diner, Abe regains his footing and purpose by hatching a plot to do away with an apparently immoral, inept and corrupt judge. He rationalizes his plan as a deed that will make the world a better place.

“It interests me,” Allen, 79, director of more than 45 films, said of murder. It’s “the stuff of drama,” from the Greeks to Shakespeare, he said, like magic and baseball, has been a life-long fascination.

Although best known for his comedies, Allen told reporters that Irrational Man is for him “a serious picture from start to finish.”

If “people find amusing things in it, I myself didn’t put them there… but, look, if it gets a laugh, that’s how I set my table,” he said.

For that he credits his cast, which includes Parker Posey as a professor who fills out the love triangle with Phoenix and Stone. Still, some amusement factor is evidenced in what Allen said was his original title: “Crazy Abe.”

Allen’s films over the years have attracted top acting talent, despite a much lower salary than many of his stars can command in Hollywood.

But with well-practiced public modesty, the Oscar-winning director and writer praises his actors, saying, “All I do is try not to screw them up.

“These people are all doing fine before they met me. There’s nothing to learn (from me).”

To wit, he will begin his next film in August with Bruce Willis, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively and Posey, among others.

“They’ll take it because they like to act,” he said.

For himself, Allen said he has come to find fame and fortune empty and joyless.”

“The only payoff is the act of making the film,” he said.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Rep. Ted Budd, left, and Cheri Beasley

On Tuesday, North Carolina Republicans selected Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), a far-right extremist who has pushed false claims about the 2020 election, to be their Senate nominee. He will face Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley, a former chief justice of the state's Supreme Court.

As of Wednesday morning, Budd had received more than 58 percent of the GOP primary vote. Former Gov. Pat McCrory received just below 25 percent of the vote, while former Rep. Mark Walker received about nine percent of the vote.

Keep reading... Show less

Stephen Colbert

It seems we can't go even a week in America without some deranged white nationalist shooter taking the lives of decent people. Of course, this type of violence is propagated on a daily basis by the far-right sh*tweasals at Fox News and, worse yet, in the ranks of the Republican Party.

After returning to the Late Show helm, Stephen Colbert weighed in on the real culprit behind the mass shootings -- the Replacement Theory popularized by Tucker Carlson.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}