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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Woody’s “Whatever Works”

Last night, at the movies, Asia and I saw Woody Allen’s new film “Whatever Works” at Andel cinemas. It wasn’t a packed house, but there were enough people to call it a group cinematic experience. That’s fine, and almost always interesting, seeing where the audience laughs or groans, comparing it to yourself.

Woody’s latest conceit has Larry David playing an old curmudgeon who has basic disdain for the world around him, mostly aimed at people. In some ways its a typical Woody-roll and frankly I’d’ve liked to see him play the character Boris Yellnikov. A movie about an old crank (or a young one) can get old. This one sort of did: some of the jokes were crass (there is every imagineable kind of summer camp for kids, but none of them do any good for development: how about “concentration camp” to see how humans really act toward each other?” Crass, but actually, in my world view, probably useful, these days).

What makes Boris palatable, not a complete crank, is that he’s a genius who had almost won a Nobel prize in physics. So he’s got pedigree, I guess. But the story is not just a harangue against the world. Woody gives us a nice bunch of characters who turn themselves around, overturning convention and society “norms”.

I thought I’d laugh more, but I was never bored, either.

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