-Released on July 17, 2015 (limited), August 7, 2015 (wide)

-Runtime 96 minutes

-Budget ?, Gross: 1.1 Million as of Aug 3, 2015

-Production Studio: Gravier Productions,

-Distributor: Sony Picture Classics

-Rated: R

-Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1

-Heaven forfend Immanuel Kant wander into a screening of Irrational Man, Woody Allen's latest dip into the perfect-crime oeuvre. The 18th-century philosopher's onerous moral standards, his belief in black-and-white rules for every situation regardless of circumstances, don't fare so well in the famously neurotic writer-director's vast body of work. The troubled figures in Woody Allen's movies are all about exceptions to the rule: Infidelity is wrong, but my marriage is on the rocks anyway; murder is even worse, but this guy really deserves it. [1]

 

-The trailer for Woody Allen’s new film, Irrational Man, implied that it would be the story of a middle-aged misanthrope and the much younger beauty who falls madly in love with him, a story he has already told in Manhattan, Husbands and Wives, and Whatever Works. But it turns out that the trailer was tricking us. Well, sort of. Irrational Man is partly about a cross-generational romance, it’s true, but primarily it’s about another of Allen’s fixations: the morality and practicality of murder. It’s a topic that he addresses here with energy and focus – compared to some of his recent attempts, anyway. -Nicholas Barber - BBC [2]

 

-True, it’s no secret that great artists, like great batters in baseball, will sometimes hit home runs and sometimes strike out. But Woody Allen is in a category beyond that: He has more home runs than anybody, while holding the record for hitting into the most triple plays. So going to a new Woody Allen movie is one of those rare cases where life really is like a box of chocolates: Until you bite in, you don’t know if you’re getting a delicious truffle or something that only looks like chocolate. In this case, the bad news trickles in within the first few seconds, with stilted, expository dialogue that sounds like the chattering of servants in a 19th century play: The whole campus is buzzing! Abe Lucas, the radical philosopher, is coming to town! [3]

"Irrational Man" Screening Companion

Casting Irrational Man

 

-Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t Allen first choice for the lead role. Woody: "I went through the script and I thought to myself, 'I want to get somebody that's really attractive, really handsome.' There used to be a teacher in New York... who was very attractive. I think he was Creole, very brilliant and very great-looking. His students used to fall in love with him and he was a great ladies' man and a great, charismatic character. And I thought, 'That's what I should go get.' I should go get... Brad Pitt, or whoever you think is handsome. Leo DiCaprio. That's what I was thinking, and in talking it over with Juliet Taylor, Joaquin's name came up, and it was haunting. And we thought, 'Gee, maybe it should be Joaquin.' When you get Joaquin, you automatically get a very troubled, kind of confused character. It's all over his body language and his looks and his speech rhythm. So, then we went with him, but he was an after-thought.” [4]

 

-Woody: "[The main character is] a fascinating kind of guy, and Joaquin has got that built into him. If he was here now, you'd want to help him. He's very charmingly erratic. I think I phrased that very tactfully." [4]

 

-Woody: “Well, I didn't start with anyone in mind [for the female lead], but very quickly in there, when I was on page 15 or 20, I thought: 'Oh God, who's going to play this but Emma Stone? Who's lovely and beautiful, projects intelligence, gets away with a college age... even though she's a little older than college-age?'”[4]

 

-Woody: "I love her, yeah. She's great," Allen gushed. "Emma's going to be a huge, huge star. She's got everything. She's beautiful, she's bright, she can sing and she can dance. She's sexy. She can act dramatically. She's funny, and she's got that quality that -- just the quality that June Allyson had, where everybody just loves her. Whenever I say, 'Oh, Emma Stone is in the movie,' [people respond,] 'Oh, I love Emma Stone!' You know, and I know why. She's just adorable." [4]

 

-Woody: "I didn't know [Parker Posey]. I mean, I knew the name. Everybody knows the name because it's such a silly name," Allen quipped. "It was a very provocative name and it was actually Juliet Taylor, my casting director, who said that she had just run into Parker and chatted with her somewhere in Europe, and that Parker seemed to her a very good possibility for this role. And as soon as Parker came into our cutting room where we interview actors, the second we saw her, Juliet knew, but the second I saw her, I thought she would be absolutely perfect for it. And it turned out that she was better than perfect. She made a contribution to the role far in excess of what I wrote. Very often you'll write a character and you write it, and it's OK, and then you luck out and you get an actor or actress who brings something to it and it's suddenly -- and you get the credit for it as the writer and director -- but the truth is, the actor has brought some kind of flare or personality to it, way above and beyond the relatively bland character that you wrote." [4]

Woody At 79

 

-Woody on regret: “My biggest regret — I have so many, trivial ones and big ones — is that I didn't finish college. I allowed myself to get thrown out. I couldn't care less about it at the time. I regret that I didn't have a more serious life; that my films were too entertaining when I started. I wanted to be [Ingmar] Bergman.” [7]

 

-Woody on turning 80 later this year: “Well, I am 80 in a few months. Who knows what I can count on? My parents lived long, but that's not guarantee of anything. It's too late to really reinvent oneself. All I can do is try to do good work so that people can say, "In his later years, in his last years, he did some of his best work." Great.” [7]

 

-Woody on people: “I never liked people...I think some of them are wonderful, but they are so many of them that are not. I was one of the few guys rooting for the comet to hit the Earth.” [7]

 

-Woody on anxiety: ”You don't beat that anxiety. You don't mellow when you get older and gain a Buddhist acceptance…[The anxiety isn’t] worse [at 79]; it's the same. If you wake up in the middle of the night, at 20, contemplating your extinction, you have the same feeling at 60 and 80.” [7]

 

-Woody on love fading: “It fades almost all the time. Once in a while you get lucky and get into a relationship that lasts a very long time. Even a lifetime. But it does fade. Relationships are the most difficult thing people deal with. They deal with loneliness, meeting people, sustaining relationships. You always hear from people, "Well, if you want to have a good relationship you have to work at it." But there's nothing else in your life that you really love and enjoy that you have to work at. I love music, but I don't have to work at it. A guy likes to go out boating on the weekends, he doesn't think, "Oh, I have to work at it." He can't wait to leave work to get to it. That's the way you have to feel about your relationship. If you feel that you have to work at it — a constant business of looking the other way, sweeping stuff under the rug, compromising — it's not working.” [7]

 

-Woody on his marriage to Soon-Yi: “I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling, it wouldn't be serious. But it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn't seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor, actually. She enjoyed being introduced to many, many things that I knew from experience, and I enjoyed showing her those things. She took them, and outstripped me in certain areas that I showed her. That's why I'm a big believer in luck. I feel that you can't orchestrate those things. Two people come along, and they have a trillion exquisite needs and neuroses and nuances, and they have to mesh. And if one of them doesn't mesh, it causes a lot of trouble. It's like the trace vitamin not being in your body. It's a tiny little thing, but if you don't have it, you die.” [7]

 

-Woody on his legacy: “People always ask me this now that I'm turning 80, but I don't really care. It wouldn't matter to me, aside from the royalties to my kids, if they took all my films and dumped them. You and I could be standing over [William] Shakespeare's grave, singing his praises, and it doesn't mean a thing. You're extinct.” [7]

 

Trivia

 

-Irrational Man was filmed in Rhode Island. Locations included, Newport, Portsmouth, Richmond, Cranston, Jamestown, and Pawtucket. [8]

 

-Woody Allen's second movie in a row working with actress Emma Stone.

 

-First time Joaquin Phoenix has worked with director Woody Allen.

 

-Darius Khondji is once again Allen’s cinematographer on Irrational Man. He previously worked with him on Magic in the Moonlight, To Rome with Love, Midnight in Paris, and Anything Else.

-Woody Allen's third film in a row with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and fifth altogether.

 

-The film serves as Jack Rollins' final production, having produced Allen's films since the 1970s. He died on June 19, 2015 at age 100. [9]

 

-Sony Picture Classics once again distributed the film. It marks Allen's eighth film distributed by the label.

 

-Sophie von Haselberg's first motion picture in nearly 25 years. She is the daughter of Bette Midler and Martin von Haselberg. [8]

 

Review Headlines

 

-Boise Weekly: Irrational Man: Woody Allen Gets Away With Murder

-The Guardian: Woody Allen's philosophy lesson is no head trip

-The Boston Globe: In ‘Irrational Man,’ Woody Allen goes to school

-Star Tribune: 'Irrational Man' is a showcase for Joaquin Phoenix, but nothing new for Woody Allen

-The Globe and Mail: Irrational Man: Woody Allen’s latest is a lethargic, excruciating bore

-Chicago Tribune: Woody Allen dives deep into familiar territory

-San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Irrational Man’ among the worst of Woody Allen

 

-NYT: Woody Allen’s ‘Irrational Man’ Explores Life’s Randomness

 

-The A.V. Club: Woody Allen attempts another perfect murder in the middling Irrational Man

 

-Newark Star-Ledger: Woody goes through the motions

 

Woody the Filmmaker

 

-[Being] prolific is a thing that's not a big deal. It's not the quantity of the stuff you do; it's the quality. A guy like James Joyce will do just a couple of things, but they resonate way beyond anything I've ever done or ever could dream of doing. [7] [6]

 

-Woody on his early “funny ones:” Yes, that's what got me by. It saved me. But it was the easy road when I started, and I did it. If I had it to do over again, I would be a more dedicated artist. I would've been more serious right from the start. People could look at that and say, "You're nuts. Those are the only movies of yours that we enjoyed. Whenever you've tried to be serious or tried to be meaningful, we walk out." [7] [6]

 

-When Woody was asked, “Would you say your quality, in spots, dipped because of the quantity?,” he responded, “It always [has]. When you start out to make a film, you have very big expectations and sometimes you come close. When I did Match Point, I felt I came very close. But you never get that thing that you want. You always set out to make Citizen Kane or to make The Bicycle Thief and it doesn't happen. You can't set out to make something great head-on; you just have to make films and hope you get lucky.” [7] [6]

 

-When asked if he has ever considered scaling back, Woody replied, “It wouldn't help. It's not that I feel, "Oh, if I had more time or more money, I could make this better." It's coming to terms with the shortcomings in one's own gift and one's own personality.” [7] [6]

 

-On his shortcomings: “I'm lazy and an imperfectionist. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese will work on the details until midnight and sweat it out, whereas for me, come 6 o'clock, I want to go home, I want to have dinner, I want to watch the ballgame. Filmmaking is not [the] end-all be-all of my existence. Another shortcoming is that I don't have the intellect or the depth or the natural gift. The greatness is not in me. When you see scenes in [Akira] Kurosawa films ... you know he's a madman on the set. There would be 100 horses and everything had to be perfect. He was crazy. I don't have any of that.” [7] [6]

 

-Why so many actors want to work with him: “There are two factors: 1) I give them good parts to play and they are artists and they don't want to keep doing blockbuster movies. They want to act in something. 2) But they want to work with me when the blockbuster movie hasn't offered them anything. If I offer them something and then Jurassic Park offers them something, they take Jurassic Park because of the money.” [7] [6]

 

Emma Stone on Working with Woody Again

 

-The actress attempted to explain what changed the second time around. “It was different,” she said. “‘Magic in the Moonlight’ felt like this magical, suspended, ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in the south of France, and the cast all got really close.” In “Irrational Man,” on the other hand, “The tone is much darker,” she said. [5]

 

-Stone said she was drawn back to Allen’s work after reading the script, along with the opportunity to work with Phoenix and Posey. “It felt like a very ‘Woody’ movie,” she said. “I thought the themes he was exploring were totally different than ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ and somehow, he always is kind of exploring similar themes too.” [5]

 

-Stone said the casting process was similar for both films in that Allen’s casting director Juliet Taylor reached out. “She said he had a script they wanted to send over and to let us know what you think,” Stone said. “That’s pretty much the way it was the first time.” [6]

 

-“You don’t have rehearsals, you don’t have a cast read-through, you know on the first day you’re shot out of a cannon,” Stone said. “I think he sees the tone in his head and he finds it as it goes, so he’s the only director I’ve ever worked with who reshoots as he’s shooting. So you’ll show up and he’ll say we need to reshoot the scene from yesterday. We’re lucky because Parker and I have both done a fair amount of improv, so that live-wire environment is exciting to me.” [6]

 

The Effect of Woody’s Personal Life on his Audience

 

-Woody: “I always had a small audience. People did not come in great abundance, and they still don't, and I've maintained the same audience over the years. If the reviews are bad, they don't come. If the reviews are good, they probably come.” [7] [6]

 

-Woody: “Not for a second [do audiences carry my external baggage into the theater]. It has no meaning in the way I make movies, too. I never see any evidence of anything in my private life resonating in film. If I come out with a film people want to see, they flock to see it, which means they see it to the degree of Manhattan or Annie Hall or Midnight in Paris. That's my outer limits. If I come out with a film they don't want to see, they don't come. [7]

 

An Honest Quote from a Movie Exec

 

-Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, stepped out to comment on the studio’s long history with Allen. “You’re really supporting his vision,” he said, pointing out that Allen has directed dozens of films, and “Irrational Man” was his seventh with SPC. “His way is a way that tends to succeed more often than not. So you have to trust that. Because for someone like us to assume that we know how to do that is a mistake.” [5]

 

Critical Reception

 

-Scott Foundas for Variety wrote: “Puts a fresh spin on a familiar premise and marks Irrational Man as one of the Woodmans more offbeat and ambitiously weird projects since the fragmented Deconstructing Harry.”

 

-Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of A.V. Club wrote: “The same old” is Allen’s default mode, and here it trucks along to a modest insight and an arbitrary twist-of-fate ending.“

 

-Manohla Dargis for the New York Times wrote: “As tends to be the case with Woody Allen's work, this new light and dark film looks, sounds and plays a lot like some of his previous titles.”

 

-Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal  wrote: ““Irrational Man” isn’t funny either. It’s a Woody Allen film that the next one will make us forget.”

 

-Michael Phillips for Chicago Tribune wrote: “Allen is no dummy, but he is also not his own best editor or critic. The tone here is all over the place.”

 

-Mick LaSalle for San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “Of all the great filmmakers, Woody Allen has the widest range between his best and worst work. He makes good and bad movies, and transcendent and fair movies, and then every so often he inflicts something like “Irrational Man” on the world, which is so awful you have to wonder if Allen wrote it himself or farmed it out to some look-alike cousin out to destroy him.”

 

-Chris Nashawaty for Entertainment Weekly wrote: “Woody Allen has always repeated the same handful of themes in his films, but now even his repetitions are getting repetitious.”

 

-Nicholas Barber for BBC wrote: “ Irrational Man combines the philosophical weightiness of Allen’s best dramas with the giddy playfulness of his best comedies...Don’t get your hopes too high, though. Once Abe has set his scheme in motion, Allen fails to add the twists and complications that the scenario deserves. Rather than explore his premise, as he would have done 20 or 30 years ago, he throws it away in his rush to get to the end credits. Once again, a potentially great film has been sabotaged by his typical this’ll-do sloppiness.”

 

-Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian wrote: “Woody Allen’s Irrational Man is another of the amiable but forgettable and underpowered jeux d’esprit that he produces with an almost somnambulist consistency and persistence. It’s a tongue-in-cheek mystery which is neither quite scary and serious enough to be suspenseful, nor witty or ironic enough to count as a comedy...Irrational Man is a good idea, a sketch for a movie, but the movie itself is unrealised.”

 

-George Prentice from Boise Weekly wrote: “Joaquin Phonex is so fine in Woody Allen's Irrational Man that his acting trumps one of the truly worst performances of the summer from Emma Stone...In Irrational Man, it's no mystery he's one of the best of his generation. Because of his performance alone, Irrational Man is already one of my favorites of the year.”

 

-Jessica Kiang for Indiewire wrote: “As an unyielding, deeply fond fan of many of Allen's earlier films, some of which have combined homicide and humor to far, far, far greater effect, it gives me no pleasure to ask the question that buzzed through my brain at the end of "Irrational Man": how long are we going to continue to let Woody Allen get away with murder?”

 

-Irrational Man has a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 78 reviews as of July 29, 2015.