Woody Allen is back on familiar ground with his latest movie, the first shot in his beloved New York City after four made in Europe.
And for "Whatever Works," Allen has found a suitable mouthpiece for his cynical humor in Larry David, star of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
The film received a warm reception and a lot of laughs at a screening yesterday at ShoWest, an annual convention of cinema owners. "Whatever Works" opens the Tribeca Film Festival on 22 April in advance of its theatrical debut in June.
Allen had shot most of his films in New York before doing three straight in London — "Match Point," "Scoop" and "Cassandra's Dream" — then making last year's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" in Spain, which featured Allen's frequent collaborator, Scarlett Johansson.
Patricia Clarkson, who had a small role in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and takes on a key part in "Whatever Works," said the New York shoot was a pleasure — since she lives there, too.
"It was so nice to be shooting with Woody Allen in New York. It was divine," said Clarkson, who introduced "Whatever Works" to the ShoWest crowd. "There were a couple of days I walked to work. It was beautiful.
"He was definitely on his own turf," Clarkson said. "When we were shooting in Barcelona, it was like shooting with Mick Jagger. I mean, the streets were lined wherever we went for Scarlett and for Woody. It was like they were rock stars. In New York, the crowds gather, but I think because it's Woody, they're actually respectful of him."
"Whatever Works" casts David as a brilliant, misanthropic physicist whose dour outlook drives him to failed suicide attempts. After splitting with his worldly wife and giving up his teaching job, he becomes a cranky chess instructor in a May-December relationship with a naive Southern beauty (Evan Rachel Wood), whose mother (Clarkson) schemes to split them up.
David delivers nicely as the sort of eccentric New Yorker that Allen has played himself in past films. But David is more than a stand-in for Allen, Clarkson said.
"They are kissing cousins. They are kindred spirits, absolutely," Clarkson said. "But Larry David is very different in the film. He's very different than he is on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' People think he's absolutely that person on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' but he's a different man, and he's different in the Woody Allen film.
"It's Larry's own DNA mixed with Woody's writing. Those are two powerful DNAs mixing. It's inspired."Reuse content