Iconic writer, director, actor, comedian and musician Woody Allen allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time. With this unprecedented access, Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert B. Weide followed the notoriously private film legend over a year and a half to create the ultimate film biography. "Woody Allen: A Documentary" chronicles Allen's career - from teen writer to Sid Caesar's TV scribe, from stand-up comedian to award-winning writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Exploring Allen's writing habits, casting, directing, and relationship with his actors first-hand, new interviews with A-listers, writing partners, family and friends provide insight and backstory to the usually inscrutable filmmaker. Written by
What is the driving force behind this artist who seems to be past present and future at the same time? How is his physical and mental health? What kind of an American citizen or a World citizen is Woody Allen? Has he got "visions" that reach beyond his own persona and his intimate circle? Does he like dogs? Yes, there is a lot I would like to learn about this immensely productive and strangely elusive man who always has a fresh take on actual human events and conditions and seems virtually ageless. The answers to these questions are more easily found in Allen's own movies than in this documentary which is an uncritical tribute to the Mystery Man who appears in it as a friendly and soft spoken contributer. The style is very conventional (if not outright promotional) and disappointing - talking heads you already know (Maltin, Lax etc.) tell things you already know. Why didn't they interview his dentist, his super or his hairdresser?
And yet I don't regret having watched this documentary. As it also contains valuable insights which I found fascinating. Allen seems to stick to persons he has known for ages (I assume he is basically loyal and expects loyalty in turn). Early in his career he teamed up with people who created Woody Allen as a product. This seems to have been the foundation stone for future developments. Behind the name there is an industry with a hard core of constant trusted collaborators. It is as productive as it is (within clearly set boundaries) innovative. This somewhat unlikely combination seems to be unique. No one except Charlie Chaplin did anything that can be compared with it. I can credit the documentary for highlighting these aspects which serve as a kind of a shield for Woody Allen (the man) against too personal approaches to his persona.
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