Sunday, October 14, 2012

Whatever Works - A Short Analysis & Thoughts

After a short day in which my Psychology class became the only significance I could find for the 12 hours I had been awake I decided to finally watch Woody Allen's 2009 Comedy/Romance Whatever Works. After reading a few reviews of the film after seeing it I came to realize I may be in the minority of  opinions on the film.

Whatever Works takes a dive into a peculiar style of narration that hasn't been experimented with in quite some time. Especially not to the extreme that Woody Allen takes it compared to his earlier films. This of course is the aspect in which our protagonist Boris Yelnikoff (Larry David) speaks directly to us; the audience. Breaking the 4th wall. You really feel like it's Allen himself speaking directly to you in these long sequences where we get a detailed diagram inside the mind of Yelnikoff via Woody Allen's brilliant writing and Larry David's flawless, authentic style of acting. This film as a whole feels much like a roller coaster ride through the nooks and cranny's of the deepest thoughts in Woody Allen's brain - and not just a tricky love story between a few fictional characters. I don't mean to look down upon any of Allen's other recent films, because I love them all. I really do. I'm one the few who actually loves Anything Else.

There is a specific facet of comedy in Whatever Works that I must say I have never seen. I'm not claiming to be any sort of cinefile, so don't bark at me and say this film, and that film did this years ago. Please politely recommend these films to me in a nice and orderly manner. Anyway, the facet of comedy that I'm speaking of are the sequences where Boris acknowledges that there are many people standing around all of them watching and listening. This is never followed through with a confirmation that there are in fact a group of people, maybe even a camera crew around them though. There are a few times in the film where we get a very personal feeling toward the characters when they stare right into our eyes as they look for these people that Boris apparently sees. At the end of the film this is utilized to convey that Boris's genius is his crutch. He sees the big picture, therefore he can't exactly live happily and relaxed. He knows too much.

One interesting feature in this film is the shift of powers between the protagonist (Boris) and the Antagonist (Melody). I found myself rooting for Boris's genius, complex thought's on the everyday life, universe and religion. I thought he'd be the perfect guy to teach this young lady a thing or two about reality and life to help her. This was interested, because toward the end of the film Boris's ways became quite tragic and eventually led to his breakup with Melody, which in turn changed my perspective on who was really the teacher here. Melody had taught Boris to not be so cynical all the time. Although he does eventually embrace his genius and his views on life - he does become a much happier and emotionally fulfilled man by the end of the film.

It made perfect sense to me when I discovered that Allen wrote this screenplay in the 70's. It has the closest resemblance of the tone of early Woody Allen films such as Annie Hall, and Manhattan.

I truly adore all of Woody Allen's films that have come after Whatever Works, although there is part of me that wishes more of them would resemble the similar tone and comedy that Whatever Works obtains.

Now for my last note:

Dear Woody Allen,

Please cast Louis C.K. as the lead in your next film.

Thank You,
Michael M. Jones

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Standards of Art (at least "good art")

Defining standards for art can be tricky. This is because each individual has a different perspective. Weather it's taste buds or an opinion on a piece of art, we all have a unique point of view and perspective to provide. Although, there are a few broad standards that most people will agree with.

* Art should create an emotion in the consumer. And like I said this will be the same emotion, or a different emotion depending on who the consumer is. One person might see a painting of a human head without a body as a symbol for insecurity while another person might see it as meaningless absurdism.

* Art should be thought provoking. This is similar to creating an emotion, but also different in many aspects. For example: A scene in a film where a father argues with a mother while their young child secretly listens from upstairs. There is a good chance that a number of people watching this scene will relate to it on a personal level and provoke thoughts from personal experience, thus creating an emotion. This is major aspect of art, especially film, that make it so popular and timeless.

* An obvious standard is that art should provide entertainment. People go see superhero movies like The Avengers, because of the action, special effects and the overall epic-ness of them. It gets them out of the real world for 2 hours. It gets them out of their head and their day-to-day lives. This is the classic purpose of all forms of entertainment, especially television and film. Forget about your moms cancer; Captain America just saved the day.

* Art should inspire the consumer. This is especially for other artists consuming art. If your'e a painter and you go to an art show and see a painting of a guy with turquoise hair and even though it's no realistic, it looks interesting and it's thought provoking. Then you'll be like "Hey I never thought about giving somebody turquoise hair before." And then you'll incorporate that into your own work, while hopefully not ripping off the painting, but just simply being inspired by it. Another example is that a film about a lazy guy who eventually gets his shit together and achieves something by the end of the film will most likely spark inspiration in the consumer to get their shit together if it's not already together.

* Art should hold value. This is a sort of a tricky one because of all the absurdist forms of art. Some may argue that they are meaningless, therefore not art. And others may disagree and say anything is art. Well, it's all a matter of perspective. But I believe that most people would agree that the art with the most meaning, thought, emotion, and talent behind it is the most valuable and makes for real good art