Irrational Man

I was really sad to hear about the movie theatre shooting in Louisiana. I went out to buy some groceries, and then I stood around a bus stop waiting for the F bus to arrive. I thought I allowed plenty of time to get to the Embarcadero One Theatre, but the bus was 23 minutes late. It took a hell of a long time to get to the Bay Bridge, especially with a driver change at 40th and San Pablo, but I had about a half hour to go after arriving at the transit center. I didn’t realize that the theatre had reserved seating. I was tempted to buy an Icee but refrained. The movie I was there to see was “Irrational Man.” If I missed it this weekend, I wouldn’t be able to see it for a while because next weekend I have baseball games. This latest Woody Allen film was a drama in the vein of “Match Point,” but I detected familiar elements from “Another Woman,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and “Deconstructing Harry.” We’ve seen the themes of academic, intellectual people being out of touch and a student falling in love with a mentor before. We’ve seen a character contemplating murder before, in “Love and Death,” and jokes about philosophy in “Annie Hall.” Joaquin is roughly the Woody Allen character. He’s pretty fascinating to watch, but he can’t turn in a perfect performance this time because philosophy and intellectual issues are not great subjects to put on film. Some sections of the film are weighted down by a lot of dialogue. I could feel some people in the audience getting a bit restless. Joaquin had a big belly in this role, a philosophy professor named Abe Lucas. He seemed pretty brave in his acting here, putting himself out there. I think he’s right on the money a lot of the time. Emma Stone is Jill Pollard, his student who is attracted to him. Emma looks like she’s the new Scarlett Johansson in the Woody Allen movies, although I found her hard to believe as a philosophy student. I guess she has an excuse for her lapse in judgment because she’s not a fully mature student. Abe tells her to trust her instinct, but her instinct about him is all wrong. Abe tells his class about the gap between academic thought and the real world. He does show that for all the power of his intellect, he shows flaws in his logic. He becomes obsessed with a judge who seems biased against a woman in a child custody case. He thinks he should act against this judge and devises a perfect murder, bringing to mind a bit of “Strangers on a Train.” If he truly was a good thinker, he would realize that the only perfect murder is one that is not a murder at all. The death can’t be a result of your action. It has to be a real accident or suicide. It’s like an uncertainty principle at work. If you’re safe from detection, you can’t be certain the death will even happen because you’re not initiating the events. This Woody Allen film has something in common with other good Woody Allen films, which is that it feels like it covers a lot of ground in a pretty short running time. I felt like we got to know a lot about the two main characters. Jill’s boyfriend seemed like a lightweight personality, essentially having no personality, which makes any argument that the two belong together seem unconvincing. Some of Woody Allen’s dramatic movies have created an atmosphere of gradually increasing tension, as in “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Match Point,” and “Blue Jasmine,” and the same is true of “Irrational Man.” There were some humorous moments, although nobody in the theater laughed out loud. This was one of the more demanding of the Woody Allen films, rather like “Interiors” was years ago. We were asked to absorb a lot and listen to a lot of ideas. I kind of liked that quality. I was reminded in the end of Truffaut’s “The Soft Skin.” I thought this film had its share of flaws, but it’s closer to the target than most of the work that Woody Allen has done in this millennium. I’m wondering if Emma Stone will be in his next film. There is potential for something great here, if Woody Allen has much left. I noticed that there is discussion of a muse in this film. You can interpret some of the content as relating to Woody Allen’s real creative struggle, like “Stardust Memories.” I noticed that there was some Bach on the soundtrack. I think I recall some Bach in “Melinda and Melinda.” I assumed the title “Irrational Man” referred to the Abe Lucas character. He is someone who learned nothing from his academic work. He was a bad thinker even though he had a reputation for being a genius. I left the theatre and walked past Taco Bell. One of their specials looked so unhealthy that I couldn’t bring myself to eat there. I was too tired to check out the Criterion Collection sale at Barnes and Noble, so I went straight home. I watched the NUMB3RS episode “End Game.” Don seemed like he was getting out of control with his love life. I watched the CBS Evening News with Charlie Rose, and then Match Game. I brought out the Blu-ray edition of “Magical Mystery Tour” and watched it. There were a couple of moments when I thought it looked better than the DVD. One of my favorite scenes was the one with everyone on the bus singing. I wondered what ever happened to the bus in real life. I watched the Partridge Family episode “Fellini, Bergman, and Partridge,” which showed Keith making a film for 15 dollars. I laughed when he asked how he was going to get that kind of money. I thought I saw Laurie eating a couple of grapes. It was sad seeing those shots of Tracy. The Antenna TV station here will be showing a Partridge Family marathon on August 15. Since there were 96 episodes, you can watch them all in slightly less than a year if you watch two episodes each week. I listened to Carole King’s “Really Rosie” album, and then U2’s “Achtung Baby.” I had such warm memories of Carole King years ago. I’ll always remember the first time I heard the songs “Really Rosie,” “One Was Johnny,” “Alligators All Around,” and “Chicken Soup with Rice.” I wanted to stay up to watch the repeat of Charlize Theron’s appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show. I wanted to hear her refer to a VCR as a “VCH.” She showed that she knew the Rolling Stones song “Wild Horses” when she was on the Jimmy Fallon show. I had to hear her talk about “Dirty Dancing,” “Splash,” and “Overboard” again. She commented that her thumbs were very long. Some of the people who died on July 25 include Vincente Minnelli (1986), Charlie Rich (1995), Howard Vernon (1986), and John Schlesinger (2003). Today is a birthday for Thurston Moore (57) and Rita Marley (69).

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