Woody Allen. Every film admirer knows this name, if not loves the artist who bears it. Mr. Allen makes you laugh in Annie Hall and shed a tear in Manhattan or he may engage you in both activities in both movies. He transports you to the most magical of places in Midnight in Paris and somehow manages to make the City of Lights even more charming and mysterious. He adds enchantment even to an old movie theater, pushing make-believe to new highs in The Purple Rose of Cairo. Mr. Allen understands life, death, love, art, and people. And he places this understanding in his peculiar vision in his unique films.
Woody Allen: A Documentary was made for TV in two installments and its running time nears three and a half hours, which is, let’s admit, a lot. This film was produced as a shorter version for cinema release, but I was extremely fortunate to attend a screening of that lengthy Director’s Cut at the American Independence Film Festival in Kyiv. Being a relatively tiny thing, this event still managed to draw the audience into the theater and even featured some amazing guests of filmmaker kin, including the director of the about-to-be-discussed documentary, Robert B. Weide.
Presenting his film, Mr. Weide asked us three questions: how many of us were passionate Woody Allen fans, who had seen all of his movies, how many knew only a few of Woody’s pictures, and how many were there just to avoid the bad weather outside. Funnily, I couldn't classify myself. I’m a huge admirer of Woody’s work, but I can’t say that I saw half of his oeuvres, not to mention the majority of them. Anyway, hopefully, the situation is about to be improved, since Woody Allen: A Documentary made me even more interested in the auteur’s filmography. Nothing bizarre about that: if a movie (a doco or a fictionalized biopic) centered on a personality is well-made, you will probably want to know even more about this or that persona.
Here go a few general things that you should know about the movie. It isn't afraid to dwell on Woody Allen’s life, but most importantly, his creative life, starting with childhood beginnings to his young years as a stand-upper to his slow transition to films as a writer, actor, and director. The milestone motion pictures are discussed in detail and whole-heartedly by a range of professionals who have worked with the master and were inspired by his incredible vision. The audience is lucky to find out more about Woody’s writing habits and his funny stories straight from his lips, too. The documentary never bores, being that long. I can tell from my experience that it was one of the best film viewings in my life: I had a very trying day and my nerves were shattered, but the movie made me relax and I was laughing at many moments alongside other viewers. As Woody Allen: A Documentary went on and on, I thought that it can’t be too long, it’s amazing!
Can you spoil anything in a documentary? I don’t think that it’s such a problem as in usual narrative films, yet I don’t want to share some details, leaving them for you to find out, when you have the chance to see this movie. However, there is one thing that I think I can talk about, regarding that it was a huge revelation for me. Woody said that he never had a writer’s block. Fancy that! Shocking. I’m not joking. I do consider it a significant eye-opener. If you are a writer or a blogger and you face problems with the muse, think of Woody. Of course, you might say that no one’s like Woody Allen (and that is true), but the point is: if someone can write incessantly, you can too!
Needless to say, Woody Allen: A Documentary boasts many as great facts as this one. I promise you, if you are an aspiring filmmaker or a movie buff, you’ll find the Director’s Cut a fun ride into the great filmmaker’s life and career. The documentary is funny, smooth, informative, and inspiring. Whoever you are, I bet you would take something from the film that will live in your heart and memory for a while.