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Woody Allen: A Documentary

Directed by Robert B. Weide

USA, 2011

Cornerhouse, 9 June 2012

Woody Allen

He seems to be very much an acquired taste, Woody Allen, people either praise him to the skies or they think his films are pretty much all alike (doesn’t he repeat himself endlessly, obsessively?).

In this documentary, everyone is in the former camp.  It is about Allen’s career and work, not his personal life, though that is touched upon briefly.  You’ll come away from the film, even if you’re not a huge fan, with an admiration for Allen’s way of working.

The man has complete control over his films, and has had it since the get-go.  So when he says, ‘The only thing that stands between me and immortality is me’ it’s not just another joke about death.  Because there are no excuses when it comes to the work: he’s the guy who makes the decisions.  There’s also his pragmatism, which a few actors draw attention to: he’s a good-enough kind of film maker, a satisficier.  He knows what he wants to see in a scene.  That’s good to know: these so called perfectionists generally don’t know shit from shinola.  As a rule.  Generally.  In the main.

I’d have preferred a documentary with a more critical, analytical bent but Robert B. Weide’s film is good enough as well.  He has a stellar set of contributors, all saying nice if not always enlightening things about the funny guy with the funny glasses.