American Masters: Season 25, Episode 7

Woody Allen: A Documentary (20 Nov. 2011)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
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A documentary on Woody Allen that trails him on his movie sets and follows him back to Brooklyn as he visits his childhood haunts.

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A documentary on Woody Allen that trails him on his movie sets and follows him back to Brooklyn as he visits his childhood haunts.

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Comedy is easy. Dying is hard.


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Woody Allen: A Documentary - portrait of an artist
30 December 2011 | by (Virginia, USA) – See all my reviews

I admire Woody Allen as a man of many talents, a writer, comedian, musician and filmmaker. His best films have everything I look for in a comedy (or dramedy, he is especially good in making them) - brilliance, wit, clever writing, hilarious and sinister twist in the plot, amazing performances, authentic feel of the era and great musical score. I admire his respect for the audience: "I never write down to them. I always assume that they're all as smart as I am... if not smarter." For someone who has been a fan of Allen's works for many years and seen every movie he was a part of, whether as a writer/ director, star or all of the above, Woody Allen: A Documentary is the next best thing to watching Allen's films. I was entertained, learned something new about my favorite film-maker, and once again was fascinated with his productive and unique career that has spanned over six decades. The DVDs with Allen's films don't usually include a lot of bonus materials, such as making of behind the scenes; so, watching the documentary filled with the clips from many Allen's films and listening to the interviews with the stars have added to better understanding of the man behind 40 + films many of which belong to the best ever made.

Allen is known as a multi-talented artist - the stand-up comedian, musician, actor and, of course, a film director. But the documentary confirmed what I've assumed already - that he considers himself primarily a writer who has been writing for a living since he was 15 and started composing the jokes and one-liners for a local paper making $75 a week - not bad for a teenager back in the 1950s. At the age of 19, he started writing scripts for the most popular television shows of the time. Allen has authored the Broadway plays, the books of prose and non-fiction, and the scripts to every movie he ever made for which he has been awarded 14 Oscar nominations in the category Best Original Screenplay, more than any film-maker ever. I was genially moved when Woody confessed that all these years he's been using the old typewriter Olympia and he is not going to change it for one of latest and fastest computers with the useful word processing programs. He proudly announced that he is a very fast typist.

For two evenings, in two parts of the documentary, each 1,5 hours long, Allen himself, his younger sister-producer Letty Aronson, his friends, business associates, and the famous, respectable and talented members of the prestigious "I've acted in Allen's film(s)" actors, gave the grateful audiences the insight into the phenomenon called Woody Allen, his persona, his works, his unique place in the cultural life of America, his origins, influences, his Muses, and his work ethics. Allen came out in the interviews which are more valuable because they are rare as a moving, deprecated, very clever, funny and charming person. I know many would not share my opinion but I am a loyal fan, and the documentary was made for people like me. If you have problems with the certain facts from Allen's biography you should spend three hours with something else.

Watching the documentary, I was happy to learn that Allen has good genes :) - his father lived to be 100 and his mother died when she was 96 - big chance that Woody would keep writing/directing for many years to come and never lose his wit, sense of humor and incredible talent and lust for life. What is 76 for him? Just a small number. He makes me a happy viewer, always has and I wish him long years of happy and productive life.


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