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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20 November 2011 (USA)  »

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Entertaining quasi-biography that praises and whitewashes Woody Allen
25 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I enjoyed this very much more than I expected to. Although I've seen many of his movies, and although I share his great love of New York City, I've never been an Allen fan (I'm not a whole lot younger than he is, so I've known of him in his various careers almost from the beginning), and I've actively despised him since he did what he did to Mia Farrow and her children.

I still don't think he's the movie-making genius his fans see and this production promotes, and it really does make out like his abominable conduct 20 years ago was just media hysteria, which is appalling. But this is a fascinating and almost always entertaining production, and the 3+ hours flew by.

The few parts that were nearly unbearable did not involve Allen himself but two of the other talking heads who sing his praises (Allen himself comes across as relatively humble, which may or may not be genuine): One is the famous movie critic Richard Schickel, who appears periodically throughout both episodes; his worship of Allen is so creepy that it seriously undermines not only his credibility as a critic but any pretense of objectivity this production has. The second is an extremely smug and obnoxious woman named Annette Insdorf, who is identified as a Film Professor at Columbia University; but (Thank God) she makes only one appearance in each episode, and only for a few minutes at the beginning. She's more obnoxious than Schickel but less creepy.

Allen fans don't have to be encouraged to watch this paean to and whitewashing of their hero; but even some, like me, who are not fans at all may be entertained.


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