Woody Allen: A Documentary
(M) Transmission DVD
This well-crafted documentary provides a fascinating insight into the creative vision and work of Woody Allen as writer, performer and film-maker.
The film explores Allen’s life chronologically, from his 1940s Brooklynchildhood, through his early career as a gag writer, to his emergence as a stand-up comedian and TV performer. The main focus, however, is on Allen’s work as a filmmaker, from his early unhappy involvement as writer of What’s New Pussycat? (1965) through to the recent success of Midnight in Paris.
The documentary is carefully structured, weaving together old TV clips, film excerpts, Allen’s work on set and illuminating interviews with colleagues such as Martin Scorsese, Jack Rollins, Diane Keaton and Owen Wilson.
Most compelling, though, are the insights provided by Allen himself in candid discussion of his life and work. Areas covered include his concern with death and meaning, the ideas informing particular films, and Allen’s assessment of his work (for example, he never wanted Manhattan released).
The documentary is intelligently directed by Robert Weide, who treats personal issues (such as the acrimonious split with Mia Farrow) sensitively and pays tribute to Allen’s films through subtle touches such as an opening montage ofNew Yorkscenes.
Allen’s trademark angst-ridden humour — “life is divided into two categories: the horrible and the miserable” — is delightfully evident throughout the film and enhances enjoyment of this excellent study.