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Academy Award-winner Barbara Kopple directs this documentary portrait of Academy Award and Golden Globe-winner Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Blue Jasmine), seen traveling with friends and fellow musicians during their New Orleans jazz band's 1996 European tour. Allen's relationship with wife Soon Yi Previn is captured on film here for the first time, and others on the European jaunt include Allen's sister Letty Aronson. Followed by press, paparazzi, and gushing admirers, Allen returns home to face a more realistic critical assessment during "the lunch from hell" with his aged parents. Written by
According to an interview with Terry Zwigoff in 2010, he was originally approached to direct the film, but turned it down after he met with Woody Allen. He wanted to make a documentary about other aspects of his life, not just his tour of Europe, and Allen declined. See more »
[On why he likes playing blues]
There's nothing there between you and the pure feeling of playing. There's no cerebral part to it.
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Subtitles credit Letty Aronson and Soon-Li Previn. The band members are credited orally by Woody Allen as he introduces them to an audience. Allen himself is credited by marquees during the trip. See more »
For the die-hard Woody Allen fan, this is a very interesting documentary that takes a look at the man, the neurotic, and - in particular for the purposes of this film - the musician. This is a candid travelogue surrounding Woody's 1996 tour of Europe, where he was booked with his New Orleans Jazz Band to play a series of engagements. The camera follows Allen (along with Soon Yi Previn and his sister) on the plane, in hotel rooms, on the streets with appreciative fans, and of course on the stage when Woody's performing his favorite music. It's a pretty safe bet that a good chunk of the paying audience was in attendance not so much to hear the jazz as to catch a live glimpse of their favorite movie star, and that's sort of the case with us, too.
The occasional concert performances are pleasant enough, but they're not the most valuable elements of the movie; for most fans, things really come alive when we get to see Allen being himself behind the scenes: getting jittery while riding in his boat in Venice, getting grossed out at the thought of a dog licking his face, cautioning people at a press conference that he's claustrophobic, struggling with an uncooperative clarinet, and musing over the respect his films receive in Europe as opposed to their indifference at home. It becomes quite amazing to see firsthand just how much of his true persona is actually what he uses to flesh out those crazy characters he plays in all his films. Nowhere is it more evident just how Woody may have wound up so endearingly neurotic than it is when he returns home to New York at the end of the film. It's then that we meet his still-living parents who seem to do everything in their power to discredit him after his long trip; dad is more interested in the quality of the engraving on Woody's overseas awards rather than being complimentary toward the honor itself; mom reminds her son not to think he made it famous all on his own, and doesn't pull punches when she gives her opinion of Woody's choice of woman.
WILD MAN BLUES is not meant for just your average movie lover, but if you're a genuine fan of Woody Allen and his films, you really should catch it. *** out of ****
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