Woody Allen revealed, at a pre-premiere press panel for his new movie, Irrational Man, that he has fantasies of strategizing the perfect murder -- in art, of course, as in Dreiser's An American Tragedy or Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, epic novels or Macbeth and Hitchcock: "I love to see it. It's fun to make it. Murder is the stuff of drama."
Murder has informed several of his 45 movies. In Irrational Man, he is up to his old tricks, with Joaquin Phoenix as a charismatic philosophy professor, who revives his passion for life in the act of killing in the name of justice. Anatole Broyard, a midcentury downtown critic, served as inspiration for this character Abe Lucas who comes to feel most completely alive, not in an existential acte gratuite, but in masterminding the perfect crime.
With Roger Friedman serving as moderator at the Palace Hotel, and with two of his actors, Parker Posey whose lusty Rita channels Katherine Hepburn in this drama, and Jamie Blackley, Allen talked about this signature theme: In Crimes and Misdemeanors, a man murders his mistress, but the guilt ultimately brings him down. In Irrational Man, after he has quietly and successfully committed the deed, Abe wonders, does he have to kill again when his lover, an adoring student played by Emma Stone, catches on? Asked whether he had thoughts of letting Abe off the hook, Woody Allen became passionate declaring, "I would never, ever hurt Emma Stone."
Fielding questions amiably, the famous curmudgeon said he was certain that no one was making movies with Allen as inspiration. Really? Was he kidding? How could this auteur be so unaware? Or pretend to be so clueless? Judd Apatow's new romantic comedy Trainwreck has characters falling in love at the Central Park Conservatory to a few bars of Rhapsody in Blue, homage to the classic Woody Allen romantic comedies.
Later that evening, Allen enacted another one of his signature themes: magic. He and his wife Soon Yi greeted guests at the Irrational Man after-party in the Palace courtyard, staying just long enough before vanishing into the New York night.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.