Robert Weide, who is better known as a producer and director of Curb Your Enthusiasm has directed a charming documentary “Woody Allen: A Documentary”.
This is essentially a pleasant hagiography for all of us Woody Allen friends, to revel in his genius. It features multiple interviews from the man himself and lots of behind the scenes footage of him directing. But mainly it’s a collection of “greatest hits” of Woody from his young days as a –very very funny – gag writer for people like Dick Cavette (who knew, Woody wrote “What’s New Pussycat”?) to excerpts from some of the best of the 48 movies he’s written and directed.
Yes that’s right 48 movies (he actually wrote 70!), some of them of course, pretty forgettable (“Cassandra’s Dream” in 2007? “Anything Else” in 2003? “Sounds From a Town I love” in 2001???), but so many many others that were pure cinematic gems. Remember “Annie Hall”, “Manhattan”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, “Crimes and Misdemeanors” from his classic period and Woody’s wonderful rebirth in Europe with “Match Point”, “Scoop”, “Vicky Christina Barcelona” and his most successful film, “Midnight in Paris”.
They’re all there, with just enough of them to make you long for more.
The documentary bypasses some of his more troubling episodes, such as his affair with his step daughter, which Mia Farrow discovered while she was actually shooting a movie with him. We see nothing of the mess that took place with him and his old time producer, where each accused the other of embezzlement. It’s also not big on insight and focuses instead on small time incidentals, like the fact that Woody writes all his stuff on an old fashioned typewriter.
No matter, if its purpose was to remind us of what a prolific, mainly good, often great director Woody is (who can you compare him with? Scorsese? Spielberg?), it does so very well. Woody was one of the very few directors who, after just his first movie, insisted on and got full control. He controlled what he wrote, shot and edited. Just as well. I can’t see the geniuses at Hollywood ever giving the green–light to his heavily philosophical conversations and his peculiar funnyman take on existential angst.