Woody Allen's Irrational Man Film Private #Chicago Screening

Woody Allen's film Irrational Man will have a private screening this Saturday, July 18, 2015 at Bellwether Meeting House & Eatery.

Woody Allen’s 'Irrational Man' is about a tormented philosophy professor who finds a will to live when he commits an existential act

Philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) is at rock bottom emotionally, unable to find any meaning or joy in life. Abe feels that everything he’s tried to do, from political activism to teaching, hasn’t made any difference.

Soon after arriving to teach at a small town college, Abe gets involved with two women: Rita Richards (Parker Posey), a lonely professor who wants him to rescue her from her unhappy marriage; and Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), his best student, who becomes his closest friend. While Jill loves her boyfriend Roy (Jamie Blackley), she finds Abe’s tortured, artistic personality and exotic past irresistible. Even as Abe displays signs of mental imbalance, Jill’s fascination with him only grows. Still, when she tries to make their relationship a romantic one, he rebuffs her.

Pure chance changes everything when Abe and Jill overhear a stranger’s conversation and become drawn in.

Once Abe makes a profound choice, he is able to embrace life to the fullest again. But his decision sets off a chain of events that will affect him, Jill and Rita forever.

IRRATIONAL MAN opens in Chicago on Wednesday, July 22, 2015.

The private screening will take place at Bellwether Meeting House & Eatery, 302 E. Illinois St., Chicago, IL, USA.  Woody Allen (Writer & Director), Parker Posey (Actress), Ron Chez, (Executive Producer) and Michael Rose (Chairman and CEO, Metropolitan Capital Bancorp, Inc.).

The event is sponsored by Sony Pictures Classics and Metropolitan Capital


About the Production
Throughout his career Woody Allen has exhibited a fascination with philosophy. He’s lampooned it in comic essays like “My Philosophy,” plays like “Death Knocks,” and “God,” and movies like LOVE AND DEATH, and explored philosophical issues more seriously in films like CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and MATCH POINT. “Since I was very young for whatever reason I’ve been drawn to what people always call the ‘big questions,’” he says. “In my work they’ve become subjects I kid around with if it’s a comedy or deal with on a more confrontational way if it’s a drama.”

Allen’s early interest in philosophy took shape when he watched Ingmar Bergman’s films as a teenager. “They had a great grip on me,” he says. “At that time I had not read Nietzsche or Kierkegaard, philosophers that Bergman relied quite heavily on, but that material rang a very profound bell with me. I was riveted by his movies and the questions they asked and the problems that they dealt with. And subsequently over the years, I read a certain amount of philosophy and was able to understand more clearly who influenced him and what ideas he was dramatizing. And I grew to enjoy reading the philosophers, to compare them and how they challenge and disprove one another about their contrasting approaches to unanswerable questions.”

Allen’s absorption with philosophy has been so defining to his body of work that it has inspired several serious books about the philosophy found in his films. “I don’t think that anything I’ve written or dramatized has any originality philosophically—I’m simply a product of the philosophers I’ve read. I think the most you could say is that there are coherent philosophical themes that run through all or most of my pictures over the years. But they are obsessions of mine that center around issues many men have thought about. I’m interested in depressing realities that haunt me. They’ve haunted artists and thinkers far beyond me in every way, but I deal with them through my own point of view.”

The themes that Allen returns to so regularly in his movies are usually dark ones. This is obviously the case in explicitly bleak stories, like MATCH POINT, but even his lightest fare is touched with darker themes. IRRATIONAL MAN is a story that expresses an unvarnished picture of Woody Allen’s world view.

Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) is a philosophy professor who has lost his way. His study of the great minds has not made him happy—he has lost all faith in his vocation and hope for his future. “Abe is a guy who has always tried to do something positive with his life,” says Phoenix. “He’s gotten involved with political action and traveled to disaster areas around the world trying to help people. But terrible things happen to him and after awhile he starts to feel like nothing he does really makes a difference. And while he has enjoyed teaching in the past, he feels that very few of his students are going to be transformed in any significant way by what they learn in his class. Most will go on to ordinary lives and won’t ever examine life after they pass their last test.” Says Allen: “What happens to Abe is that the ugliness and pain of existence and the terrible
frailties of people have worn him down. He feels that he’s a personal failure because he’s never been able to make a mark. He’s just written all these erudite papers that have stimulated other professors and students to talk. But he’s reached a point where he just couldn’t care less about it anymore.”

Abe’s reputation as a controversial thinker with a tragic life precedes his arrival at Braylin, a small college on the East Coast, where he is to teach a summer session. He is both a subject of faculty gossip and great anticipation by the students. While Abe lives up to his reputation as an eccentric and charismatic man, the intensity of his gloom is unexpected. He also surprises his class by informing them that a lot of philosophy is no more than empty verbiage that doesn’t stand up TO the questions of real life.

Soon after his arrival at Braylin, Abe becomes involved with Rita Richards (Parker Posey), an unhappily married science professor. “Rita is a woman who feels stifled and trapped,” says Posey. “She's not satisfied teaching; she's drinking too much, smoking pot, and daydreaming about another life—something more fulfilling and passionate. She’s built up a fantasy about Abe that when he arrived he’d fall in love with her and eventually rescue her.” Says Allen: “People must have told her that he’s a dynamic guy who really loves women, so she thinks that he’ll be the one that can get her out of her rat trap. She’s aggressive with him sexually and he is compliant, but he’s not really able to do anything.” Says Posey: “Abe ends up not having any more potency than her husband does. He’s unable to deliver and feels bad about that. He comes
across as being distant, but he is really confused and lost—he’s not present.”

Meanwhile, Abe initiates a friendship with one of his students, Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), a bright young woman who has grown up at Braylin, where her parents are professors. “Jill is a clean-cut girl who’s always been on the straight path to somewhere, but she really doesn’t know where that is,” says Stone. “She’s been in this small town her whole life, so there’s something that draws her to taking this philosophy course which she hopes will expand her view of the world. And Abe, who is this tortured, poetic artist, is the human equivalent of everything she’s wanted to explore in her life but hasn’t really known how to do on her own.” Says Allen: “Abe is a lonely guy and he sees Jill as someone he can talk to. He’s not thinking about her
romantically, but he has a serious intellectual connection with Jill which keeps growing until she
becomes the person he spends most of his time with.”

Jill has a steady boyfriend in Roy (Jamie Blackley), who must put up with her growing fascination about Abe. Despite her constant assurances to Roy that she’s committed to him, she talks about Abe’s amazing qualities virtually non-stop. “It’s constant,” says Blackley. “All day long it’s ‘Abe did this, and Abe said that, and Abe has this fascinating idea.’” Says Stone: “Once Jill sees Abe, Roy starts to look a little bit like Greek yogurt—good for you but not necessarily exciting—and Abe is like the poisonous fruit topping on the Greek yogurt.”

Roy is deeply in love with Jill and willing to hang on, despite his sense that she’s slipping away. “The thing that’s really striking about Roy is how patient and understanding he is,” says Blackley. “From the beginning he’s questioning her interest in Abe, but he puts it in the back of his mind until it becomes an issue and starts getting in the way of their relationship.” Says Stone: “At first I think that Jill really wants to believe that it’s just a friendly bond she’s forming with Abe, so she’s keeping her bases clear. But once she starts pushing Abe to get involved, she knows she is lying. I think she’s trying to have her cake and eat it too because she’s young and confused and wants the best of both worlds.”

It first becomes evident to Jill that there is something seriously wrong with Abe when he picks up a loaded gun at a party and plays Russian Roulette, spinning the chamber several times. While Jill is terrified, she finds a way to justify this reckless action in her mind. “Abe turns everything into a philosophy lesson,” says Stone, “and Jill is an eager student of those lessons because she’s trying to be a radical thinker like him. As scared as she is, she’s in a bubble, wanting to see the best in these situations that are unfolding in front of her.” Also, Jill is falling for the romantic idea that she will be the one who will liberate Abe from the hole that he’s in. “The idea that she can rescue somebody who’s in such an alcoholic, downward, suicidal spiral is selfishly rewarding for her,” says Stone. “She’s never had the experience of helping someone out of a dark place—and she doesn’t realize that can lead you into the darkness too.”

Abe’s life turns around after a completely unexpected event. He and Jill are sharing a meal at a diner when they happen to overhear a highly emotional conversation in the next booth. Abe and Jill both react to the conversation, but Abe quickly becomes consumed with what he hears. He secretly decides that the time has come to get involved. “Abe decides he’s going to take the bull by the horns and chooses to act,” says Allen. “It’s not an abstract action, like writing a letter to the New York Times or going on impotent protests. Here is a course of action that is within his grasp to perform that will really make a difference.”

Abe’s decision rejuvenates him. He transforms from somebody who is aimless and depressed to someone who has energy and exuberance. “He has a sudden appreciation of life,” says Allen. “He enjoys the taste of wine and sex again, and having a good hearty breakfast and getting sleep.” He wants to live. Says Phoenix: “Abe is able to re-embrace life because he finally has a clear-cut goal he believes in. It’s exactly what he’s been looking for without even knowing he was looking for it. Not only does he think he’s doing something positive but he places himself in an adventure, putting his plan into action.”

Not knowing the real reason, Jill assumes she is the cause of Abe’s sudden joy. “She sees herself as 100% responsible,” says Stone. “It was how much she understood him and how much she was there and told him how poetic he was. She finally saved him.”

Of course, the action that Abe is preparing to take is something irrational. He is able to rationalize it, but it’s not an argument that can hold up to scrutiny. Says Allen: “What Abe finds to believe in is this irrational enterprise, the product of his years of distortion and anger and frustration over the ways of the world and the ways of people.” Abe feels he can do what he does because he believes in challenging conventional norms. But he is anything but the man of reason he considers himself to be. Says Allen: “As Jill’s mother says in the film, Abe’s work is only a triumph of style; his substance doesn’t hold up if you pursue it. He’s good with words, he makes bright, educated arguments that sound good, but if you really take them to their marrow,
they don’t stand up.”

IRRATIONAL MAN was shot in Newport, Rhode Island, with the campus of Salve Regina
University standing in for the fictional Braylin College. The locations were all shot in Newport,
Providence, and its environs. The soundtrack is largely the Ramsay Lewis Trio, notably “The
‘In’ Crowd,” as well as “Wade in the Water,” and “Look-A-Here.” Says Allen: “It’s got a
relentless, pulsating beat that works very well for the visual material, whether people are driving
to it or walking to it or behaving badly to it. There’s a hot tone and rhythm to it, so it suggests the tempestuousness of every character’s personality.”

As with many of his intimate dramas, Allen shot the film in widescreen. Says Allen: “I very often feel the smaller kind of stories play very well in widescreen, contrary to the thought some have that you need to have a Western or a war picture to be on a widescreen.” Unlike the more romantic visual style he utilized in his recent films like MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT, he felt that the material called out for realism. “It’s much easier to do a picture about Paris in the 1920s, with street lamps, cobblestones, coaches with horses—and make it look like a million bucks,” he says. “But to make a film like this visually appealing does require a lot of planning and I think we did do that. But I didn’t want any extra stylization to interfere with the story because the important thing is for the audience to hook up to the
characters, and fortunately, the actors gave me that.”

Allen feels that Phoenix possesses a “built in complexity” that served the role. “Everything you give him to do or say becomes interesting because of this complexity he naturally projects,” says Allen. “There’s something going on there all the time.” Stone stars in her second Woody Allen film in a row after MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT. “Emma projects intelligence,” says Allen.

“She’s got tremendous range—very funny when she needs to be and intensely dramatic when she
needs to be.”

“When I read the script,” says Stone, “it raised a lot of questions for me about morality. Abe
doesn’t live by the world’s rules and Jill is trying to figure out how far she can go.” Stone continues: “I also liked that the script explores the themes of randomness and fate that were in
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT and so many of his other films.”

Randomness is central to IRRATIONAL MAN. It hinges on a string of chance occurrences that have life and death consequences. Its story illustrates one of Woody Allen’s core philosophical beliefs. “I’m a great believer in the utter meaningless randomness of existence,” he says. “I was preaching that in MATCH POINT and Abe preaches it in his class. All of existence is just a thing with no rhyme or reason to it. We all live subject to the utter fragile contingency of life.  You know, all it takes is a wrong turn on the street…”

About the Cast
JOAQUIN PHOENIX (Abe) was born in Puerto Rico and began his acting career at the age of eight. During that time, he made numerous episodic television appearances on such hit shows as "Hill Street Blues,” "The Fall Guy" and "Murder, She Wrote". He was a regular on the shortlived 1986 CBS series "Morningstar/Eveningstar,” and followed that same year with his first feature film role in SPACECAMP. The following year, he starred in RUSSKIES with sister Summer and Carole King. Two years later, director Ron Howard cast the teenager as Dianne Wiest’s son in his popular family comedy PARENTHOOD. It wasn’t until 1996 that the young actor returned to the fold with a stunning and critically-acclaimed performance opposite Nicole Kidman in Gus Van Sant’s TO DIE FOR. He next co-starred with Liv Tyler, Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly in INVENTING THE ABBOTTS in 1997. That same year, he co-starred opposite Claire Danes, Sean Penn and Jennifer Lopez in Oliver Stone’s “U-Turn.”

In 1998, Phoenix co-starred opposite Vince Vaughn in two very different roles—as an American jailed in Malaysia for possession of drugs belonging to accomplice Vaughn in RETURN TO PARADISE, and as a dupe to Vaughn’s smooth-talking serial killer in the black comedy CLAY PIGEONS. Phoenix next won acclaim as a street smart adult bookstore clerk who helps detective Nicolas Cage search for the truth behind what appears to be a snuff film in Joel Schumacher’s dark thriller, 8MM.

In 2000, he earned his first Academy Award nomination co-starring opposite Russell Crowe as the complex Commodus in Ridley Scott’s Oscar®-winning Best Picture, GLADIATOR. In addition to an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Phoenix received nominations for a Golden Globe® and the British Academy (BAFTA) Award. He received awards as Best Supporting Actor from the National Board of Review and The Broadcast Films Critics Association. He won a Broadcast Film Critics Award as Best Supporting Actor for Philip Kaufman’s Oscar®-nominated QUILLS, based on Douglas McGrath’s play about the Marquis de Sade, in which he co-starred with Kate Winslet and Geoffrey Rush. Also that year, he starred opposite Mark Wahlberg, James Caan, Faye Dunaway, Ellen Burstyn and Charlize Theron in James Gray’s THE YARDS.

In 2002, he starred opposite Mel Gibson in M. Night Shyamalan’s SIGNS, and reteamed with Shyamalan two years later on the gothic thriller THE VILLAGE. Phoenix then provided the voice in the animated film BROTHER BEAR, followed by Thomas Vinterberg’s IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE, BUFFALO SOLDIERS, LADDER 49, and HOTEL RWANDA.

In 2006, Phoenix was hailed for his performance as legendary singer-songwriter Johnny Cash (opposite Oscar®-winning actress Reese Witherspoon) in James Mangold’s biopic WALK THE LINE. For his performance, he collected his second Academy Award® nomination (for Best Actor) and won the Golden Globe® as Best Actor in a Musical as well as nominations for BAFTA, SAG, BFCA and Chicago Film Critics Awards.

In 2007, Phoenix starred in two features; Sony Pictures’ WE OWN THE NIGHT, where he reteamed with Mark Wahlberg and director James Gray. He then starred in the deeply moving RESERVATION ROAD, for director Terry George. The following year, working with director James Gray for a third time, he starred in TWO LOVERS opposite Gwyneth Paltrow. On October 27, 2008, Phoenix announced his retirement from film in order to focus on his rap music, but the announcement turned out to be part of Phoenix's acting role in the mockumentary I’M STILL HERE, directed by his brother-in-law, actor Casey Affleck. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and was released in the summer of 2010 by Magnolia Pictures.

When he returned in 2011, it was to star in the Paul Thomas Anderson film THE MASTER, opposite the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. That year they both won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival. In addition, he was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. He next starred in THE IMMIGRANT, co-starring with Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner, working with director Gray for a fourth time.

In 2014, he starred in the award-winning Spike Jonze film HER, where he falls in love with the voice of a computer, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Recently he starred in his second film for director Paul Thomas Anderson, INHERENT VICE, based on the acclaimed novel by Thomas Pynchon.

A social activist, Phoenix has lent his support to a number of charities and humanitarian organizations, notably Amnesty International, The Art of Elysium, HEART, The Peace Alliance (an organization which campaigns for a United States Department of Peace) and is on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund.

Phoenix narrated “Earthlings for Nation Earth,” a video about the investigation of animal abuse in factory farms, pet mills, in industry and research. In 2005, he was awarded the “Humanitarian Award” at the San Diego Film Festival for his work and contribution to “Earthlings.” In 2005 he lent his voice to the documentary I’M STILL HERE: REAL DIARIES OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO LIVED DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

Phoenix has also directed music videos for Ringside, She Wants Revenge, People in Planes, Arckid, Albert Hammond, Jr and the Silversun Pickups.

With her striking beauty and sincere talent, Academy Award®-nominated actress EMMA STONE (Jill) has claimed her role as one of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses. Stone most recently appeared in Fox Searchlight’s critically acclaimed film BIRDMAN which won the award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” at the SAG Awards, “Best Film” at the Independent Spirit Awards, and “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards. Her performance landed her an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as a Golden Globe®, SAG, and Independent Spirit nomination. Stone also earned a Golden Globe® nomination and an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance for EASY A. This summer, Stone will appear in Cameron Crowe’s ALOHA, opposite Bradley Cooper, Alec Baldwin, and Bill Murray.


Stone recently completed her Broadway run playing the iconic “Sally Bowles” in Rob Marshall’s production of “Cabaret.” The New York Times said, “Emma Stone is scintillating in an irresistible Broadway debut. Her Sally is wild, fierce and heartbreaking—someone you’re unlikely to forget. She provides a very good reason to revisit ‘Cabaret.’” When she’s not filming, Stone, is an advocate for Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. Laura Ziskin, the late producer of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, started the organization and got Stone involved. In addition to SU2C, Stone is also an ambassador for Gilda’s Club New York City. Named for the late comedian and original cast member of SNL, Gilda Radner, Gilda’s Club offers a place where people dealing with cancer can join together to build social and emotional support. Stone has become an active member in the Gilda’s Club community and continues to do so by engaging with their younger departments for children and teens.

A native of Arizona, Emma currently lives in Los Angeles. PARKER POSEY (Rita) One of the most acclaimed actresses in American independent film, (Rita) has appeared in nearly 90 films and television productions. When she received “Special Jury Recognition” at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 for THE HOUSE OF YES, it was the first time that honor had been bestowed on an actor and not a film, a tribute to her unique contribution to the independent film world as well as her performance. She received nominations for a Golden Globe® (Best Supporting Actress, “Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay”) and two Independent Spirit Awards (BROKEN ENGLISH and PERSONAL VELOCITY).

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Posey studied acting at the State University of New York at Purchase, and got her first break with a role on the daytime soap opera “As the World Turns.” Her first major role in a feature film was in Richard Linklater’s cult classic DAZED AND CONFUSED. Throughout the 90s, Posey starred or costarred in numerous independent films and was nicknamed “Queen of the Indies.” She has worked with Hal Hartley on FLIRT, AMATEUR, as “Fay Grim” in his trilogy of HENRY FOOL, FAY GRIM and NED RIFLE; and has been a steady member o Christopher Guest’s stock company for his mockumentaries WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND, and FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.


She has also worked in many larger-budget films, including: YOU’VE GOT MAIL, SCREAM 3, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS, THE EYE, LAWS OF ATTRACTION, BLADE:TRINITY, SUPERMAN RETURNS (as Lex Luthor’s sidekick Kitty Kowalski), and, recently, in GRACE OF MONACO.

Posey’s series TV appearances include “Futurama,” “The Simpsons,” “Will & Grace,” “Boston Legal,” “The Return of Jezebel James,” “Bored to Death,” “The Big C,” “The Good Life,” “New Girl,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Granite Flats,” and “Portlandia.” She received a lot of acclaim for her role as “Liz” on a series of episodes in “Louie” in 2012. Posey also appeared in the miniseries “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” and its sequels, “More Tales of the City” and “Further Tales of the City,” as well as the TV movies “Tracey Takes on New York,” “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” “The Battle of Mary Kay,” “Frankenstein,” and “Crazy House.” 23-year-old JAMIE BLACKLEY (Roy) has already established himself as one of today’s most promising actors. He has been involved in a number of critically acclaimed film, theatre and television projects. In 2014 he was listed in Screen International’s “UK Stars of Tomorrow.”

Blackley recently starred in the lead role of “Adam” opposite Chloe Grace Moretz in the film adaptation of Gayle Forman’s young adult bestseller IF I STAY. The film was a huge success and was nominated for a People's Choice Award.

April 2014 saw Blackley in Justin Edgar’s film WE ARE THE FREAKS, alongside Mike Bailey, Sean Teale and Michael Smiley. Set against the social and political turmoil of 1990s England, Jamie plays the lead role of “Jack,” who longs to escape his boring bank job and become a writer. Last year, Jamie also starred in UWANTME2KILLHIM?, a British drama thriller based on a true story, which follows a teenage boys descent into the dangerous world of internet relationships. Directed by Andrew Douglas, Blackley plays the lead role of “Mark” alongside Toby Regbo and Joanne Froggatt. The film was nominated in the Michael Powell Award category at the 2013 Edinburgh International Film Festival and Jamie shared the prestigious award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film with co-star Toby Reglo.

Blackley also starred alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl in Bill Condon’s THE FIFTH ESTATE, the story of the relationship between Wikileaks co-founders Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Blackley was also recently seen in the lead role of “Caleb” in AND WHILE WE WERE HERE, with Kate Bosworth and Iddo Goldberg, which premiered in 2013 at the Tribecca Film Festival. In 2012, Blackley played the role of “Iain”, in the box-office hit SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, with Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth. Blackley’s other film credits include LONDON BOULEVARD, with Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell; the musical LONDON DREAMS; and the horror thriller PROWL.  On television, was seen in the crime drama “Endeavor” on ITV1 and as “Matt” in successful E4 series “Misfits,” opposite Robert Sheehan.

On stage, Jamie starred with Andrew Knott and Isabella Calthorpe in Ian Softley’s critically acclaimed production of “Backbeat,” at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, and in Tony Award winner Michael Mayer’s musical adaptation of “Spring Awakening,” in the role of “Hanschen.” Blackley was born in Douglas, on the Isle of Man.
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