Cinema Reservoir
Breaking Cinematic Opinion and Observation

Whatever Works


Is it a testament to a film maker when his films are no longer judged by their merits, but by merits of the actual film maker?  I suppose the answer is yes and no…  when you’ve made 40+ films, your audience tends to be able to predict certain details of your next one.  So, it seems that as of late, Woody’s films are either loved or hated based on how effectively they make you forget that he married his own (sort of) step-daughter.  Unfortunately for Whatever Works, the comparisons to his private life are too easy to connect; forget that it was written in the 70’s as a vehicle for Zero Mostel, long before Allen’s personal life became tabloid fodder.  The plot concerns Woody Allen surrogate Boris Yellnikov (played by professional Woody Allen surrogate Larry David), a burned-out physicist and uber-genius, surely destined for infinite bachelorhood if not for the nubile southern waif (Evan Rachel Wood) who suddenly appears on his doorstep, needing food and a place to flop.  Boris reluctantly agrees to let her stay and then- almost as reluctantly- falls in love with her.


Afterwards, in quick succession, fate begins knocking at his door as her estranged neo-con parents (Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr.) literally knock on his door in search of their runaway southern belle.  Woody Allen uses the magic of New York (which he thankfully returns to) to reform the backwards southerners, giving them each a preposterously liberal twist – Clarkson becomes a swinger and Begley realizes he is gay.  Now… remembering that it was written in the 70’s, one can easily point out the similarities to that particular era in Woody Allen’s career.  Boris is a fan of the aside, where he looks into the camera and directly addresses his audience, making long… doubly long hyper-neurotic speaches about the transient nature of love and happiness before settling for the titular idea that… ”whatever works” is enough.  That’s all fine and dandy, except for the fact that this has to be Woody’s fifteenth movie circulating the same themes and characters around.  USUALLY that’s not a criticism I take seriously of  a Woody Allen picture, but here he seems to have directly addressed the issue, Boris stating that “Sometimes a cliche is finally the best way to make one’s point.”  If that was meant as a rhetorical type comment, I would have to say again, well … yes and no.


2 Responses to “Whatever Works”

  1. Actually, he didn’t marry his (sort of) step-daughter. As a fan, it is fucking disgraceful of you to propagate that bullshit. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  2. pans review buddy!

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