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, ... See full summary »
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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 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 Caeser's TV scribe, from standup 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
So Woody Allen finally consented to cooperate in a biographical film of his life and work. Unfortunately like many "authorised" biographies this life-story seems adulatory, shallow and in the end uninvolving. Peopled with many of his past collaborators all saying wonderful things about him, this in fact is very much the kind of film representation of his life I could all too easily imagine the older, blander, safer Woody making rather than the younger, edgier Woody we see glimpses of here only in decades old footage.
You see I'm not a fan of his later work. His stand-up material and early movies were genuinely quirky, energetic and funny, but then he found Bergman and Fellini and turned serious. I've tried some of his later movies, I really have, for instance "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and "Melinda Melinda" and frankly hated them. For me they lack insight, incisiveness and involvement and of course what used to be his calling-card, humour. Same here with this film. Allen politely cooperates with his friendly off-camera interviewer, like a cuddly old uncle, telling us little that is new about his movies or methods, far less his rather out-of-the-ordinary private life.
Talking of which, just how close do you think he's pressed on his shall I say, unusual tryst with his at-the-time teenage stepdaughter? Correct, about the length of the Hudson River. Not that I'm prurient, but surely someone has to make the connection between Allen's real-life peccadilloes with those of some of his invented characters, like the leads in "Manhattan" for one and his continual casting of say Scarlett Johannsen in his most recent work. Not surprisingly Mia Farrow is nowhere in sight.
In summary, I don't think he's a great director by any stretch of the imagination and don't care how many lovey-actor types they line up in this film to tell me that he is. Prolific rather than profound, his is a triumph of quantity over quality. This film really is for Woody lovers only. Obviously I'm not but I saw nothing in this purple-rose tinted production to make me think he was either a good guy far less a great film-maker.
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