Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

"Whatever Works" / BBC 6 Music

The new Woody Allen film, “Whatever Works”, has been getting some middling reviews, based as it is on a long-extant screenplay, and not covering any new ground as regards his oeuvre in general, with its focus on a relationship between a beautiful young woman and a much older man. The plot centres on ranting, self-regardingly intellectual, sporadically suicidal curmudgeon Boris Yellnikoff, played by Larry David in “Curb” mode (a wittier version of Max Von Sydow’s character in the wonderful “Hannah And Her Sisters”) who takes in Southern teenage runaway Melody (the effortlessly charming Evan Rachel Wood), and soon finds himself not only mentoring but also marrying her, and eventually involved with her confused parents (Ed Begley Jr, and the ever-reliable Patricia Clarkson). Yes, the character transformations are implausible, and the ending somewhat contrived - and David’s limp seems to come and go - but the performances are beautiful, and while the main protagonist’s nihilistic philosophising is hardly original in content, Allen’s gift for dialogue combined with David’s trademark irritability mean he’s great fun to watch. It’s probably not a “return to form”, but when “form” consists of some of the profoundest comedies ever made, I’m perfectly satisfied with auto-pilot.

I was very pleased to hear the news that BBC Radio 6 Music is to be reprieved (especially given the imminent demise of NME Radio on D.A.B. and the general unlistenability of XFM), having been one of the thousands who seized the opportunity to take part in the formal consultation process. Cynics have suggested that announcing its proposed closure was a PR masterstroke, but given the BBC’s patchy record when it comes to promoting the high-quality elements of its output, I suspect that it was an accidental one.


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