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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 »
This is Soon-Yi Previn, the notorious Soon-Yi Previn.
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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 »
revealing just enough, with some good tunes and sweet sights
Wild Man Blues (named after a terrific Louis Armstrong song) shows Woody Allen during his trip to Europe and abroad for a tour with his Jazz band. So the question you might be asking is, how much is shown? How candid does filmmaker Barbara Kopple go into the behind-the-scenes and off-the-stage stuff in the film? One could say not enough, but then how personal can one get with a cinematic heavyweight like Allen? True, it's not always just him that carries the interest in the film; his New Orleans Jazz band (the same, more or less, that gave that hilariously cool score for his film Sleeper) is toe-tapping fun, especially if you like this sort of music (I got into it a little more after watching the Ken Burns documentary), with Eddie Davis the banjo player and director of the group a real treat. It may be odd to say, but despite Woody's talent at the clarinet, it sometimes doesn't bring as much attention for one as does the 'talky' scenes.
And some of these, of course, have the young Soon-Yi Prevlin in tow. This was of course a few years after the whole hoopla went over about the break-up and all. It's curious to see how their relationship goes in the film, what is and what isn't shown, and this is I think when Kopple gets the most personal, even if it's a little uncomfortably so. Indeed, this is an Allen that is not really like the one he portrays in film after film- it does have the moments of humor, and his neuroses are in full view of the lens. But by giving it this extra view, it shows him as much more of a relatable person, or maybe not (the film does show him in Europe as being far more celebrity-like than here). In all, it works best as an objective view of the subject matter, of a director who also happens to be a good musician who enjoys playing what he calls "crude...esoteric music" of old. It is, at least for the Woody admirer, entirely watchable.
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