Woody Allen’s career has taken a definite downturn over the last twenty years. He has retreated to directing and moved off screen in his own films, something that hasn’t really helped the consistency of his recent work like Match Point, Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream. In 2008 he had something of a mini-renaissance thanks to the very likeable Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which had a great cast and a very strong script. So when Whatever Works came along, I was hoping that it would continue that return to form. But unfortunately that film was just a blip and Whatever Works, starring Larry David, is horribly misconceived. David plays Boris, another Allen analogue, who lives a futile existence until he meets displaced Southerner Melody (Evan Rachel Wood). He marries her, triggering off a series of more and more improbable events until they split at the end of the film. Melody’s mother Marietta (Patricia Clarkson) appears, looking for her daughter and embraces the bohemian New York lifestyle as does her estranged husband John, played by Ed Begley Jr. It’s obvious that Boris and Melody are mismatched but the humour is laboured and uncomfortable here and by the time she runs off with Randy, probably the worst name for an English character ever, you are relieved. Despite some decent performances and the odd funny line, despite David seeming like an obvious successor for Allen to pass the Jewish New Yorker comedian mantle onto on the big screen, Whatever Works just doesn’t. David’s character is annoying and there are some idiotic sequences that just don’t ring true peppered throughout the film. It was originally written for Zero Mostel and perhaps that’s why it’s such a total mess. David is an adequate actor but mostly he’s just himself. Allen may have lost his magic touch completely now but let’s hope that’s not the case. File under missed opportunity…


May is usually a crazy time because there’s the Annual Bristol Comic show plus there’s also London Expo at Excel in Docklands. I normally go to both and this year was no exception. We didn’t have a new TRIPWIRE out but we had a table with last year’s issue, some copies of Studio Space and a few other bitsnpieces. Bristol is a city that I always enjoy visiting: about 120 miles west of London, it has a really laidback and friendly vibe as a place. As you would expect, myself and Andy Colman stopped off on the way down. I had wanted to visit Stourhead for the last couple of years: it’s a Palladian house situated in the south of Wiltshire with world-famous gardens. We hit the most horrendous traffic a few miles from Stonehenge and were worried that we weren’t going to make it. But we did and it was spectacular. We didn’t go into the house but spent a couple of hours in the gardens and their reputation is well-deserved. They are well-kept, beautiful and serene and because it’s Spring, everything was blooming and flowering.The garden is packed with follies, buildings like temples that are created to make the gardens look more interesting, and from a photographic perspective, with the sunny weather we were lucky enough to encounter, it was a very enjoyable afternoon. It only took us just over an hour to reach Bristol, as we avoided the late afternoon traffic. The weekend was fun as ever as we got to catch up with people we don’t see often enough like Matt Badham, David Baillie, Baz Renshaw, David Morris and girlfriend Liz, Rob Williams, Paul Cornell and loads of others. I chaired a Marvel panel on the Sunday with the aforementioned Cornell, Williams plus Kieron Gillen and Neil Edwards, which seemed to go well. The weather held up for the whole weekend and we even managed to visit a few places on the Monday on the way back to London, including Clifton, Ashton Court (although the house was shut) and Victorian cemetery Arnos Vale, although I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting obsessed with cemeteries.
I’m going to save London Expo for Part Two of this post because that was a fairly packed weekend too. So here’s a few photos I took at Stourhead, in Bristol and in Arnos Vale and Clifton on Monday…