November 22, 2011

The PBS documentary on Woody Allen.

I enjoyed it quite a bit. Here, you can watch the whole thing on line. I particularly liked all the detail about working methods, intense work ethic, and working for the sake of working, without looking for admiration. If you're wondering how the Mia Farrow stuff was handled, it was all about her fine work as an actress, and not one word was said against her. There was no effort to excuse or defend Allen for his betrayal of Farrow. And, in my view, that's how it has to be. There's nothing to be gained by trying to explain his side of the story. Did she somehow do something wrong? Some reason to empathize with Allen? It doesn't matter. It would not improve his reputation for us to hear that, and the impression I get is that Allen doesn't care about about correcting any misimpressions. He just works and works. It's life, and he hates death.

39 comments:

madAsHell said...

Woody Allen lost me after Bananas!

He's not that good. I still watch Hitchcock..repeatedly...not Allen.

Matt said...

Agreed it was a very good documentary. I like that he still types everything he writes with the same typewriter he has had since age 16. And that when he needs to cut and paste he uses scissors and staples.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

An American conflagration sparked November 24th, 1925 and burning to this very day.


George Will:

“Before Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review, there was Bill Buckley, with a spark in his mind.” The spark was then and is now “a conflagration."

Cedarford said...

One of the ironies in that whole mess with the Korean adoptee honey is what happened later with one of the other kids involved.

Ronan Farrow.

Entered Bard College at age 11. Accepted at Yale Law at 16, deferred one year to work as special assistant to Ambassador Holbrooke.
Graduated Yale Law at 19.
Worked on China's involvement with odious governments, issuing a report on Chicom activities that gained considerable attention at the UN.
Now Special Envoy to Afganistan/Pakistan in the State Dept, for NGOs and reconstruction activities.
Just named a Rhodes Scholar this month.

Looks like a masculinized version of his Mom, thank god for him.
At least one good thing came out of that marriage.

Patrick said...

His best line: I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to do it by not dying.

edutcher said...

He lost me in the mid 60s.

He was great at stand up and wrote a good one liner for Carson. After that...

Eric said...

At least one good thing came out of that marriage.

I thought they were never actually married.

Beta Rube said...

I enjoyed the documentary also. I was grateful that it was apolitical throughout and kept the focus on his methods and films.

I still rate "Crimes and Misdemeanors" among my 5 or 10 favorite movies.I watched "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Broadway Danny Rose" with my daughters about the time they were going from Disney to adult comedies and we had a ball.

Milwaukee said...

Woody has crossed a line. I'm sure he doesn't care what I think of him, or his work. Avoiding his work isn't difficult at all.

Of course, one must ask, does Ann need to support this artist to burnish her "I'm not a conservative" credentials?

Chip S. said...

Some people say that Stardust Memories shows Woody's contempt for his audience. Those people apparently haven't seen Whatever Works.

Conserve Liberty said...

I am of course conflicted over Woody Allen. I absolutely cannot abide his nebbishness but he is one crazy genius.

Gene said...

Milwaukee: Of course, one must ask, does Ann need to support this artist to burnish her "I'm not a conservative" credentials?

I'm not sure one needs to ask that at all, especially since Woody Allen has always sounded pretty conservative to me on a number of things.

MeTooThenMail said...

Stardust Memories is an homage to Fellini's 8 1/2

The latter much better than the former, but Allen's is funny, grotesque, beautiful, yet still absurd and ultimately a bit annoying.

But that was the point, I guess.

BTW, Paul Mazursky remade 8 1/2 as well, although he admixed it with Shakespeare The Tempest This with John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon and Molly Ringwald, and Raul Julia - a terrific film.

Anywhoo - Woody Allen lost me after Crimes and Misdemeanors

Just sayin'

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Good grief, Althouse doesn't have to put something on her blog to prove she's a conservative or a liberal. Could it be that she puts stuff on here because they are of interest to her on their own merits? Life can get so narrow when everything is defined by politics. Take a breath, there's some good life to be had. (And then we'll all die, Woody included.)

The Crack Emcee said...

Bullshit. Like Tiger Woods, he's nothing after his problems, so they're pertinent to any discussion of the work.

I haven't seen the doc but it sounds like a whitewash to me.

Carol_Herman said...

Woody Allen HATED the country! He made quite a few rude films about country life.

So, it's not as if you don't see what was going on.

Mia Farrow got pregnant when she was 44. Allen had no idea how to be a father. Though the kid has turned out to be a genius. The two men don't know each other! (And, he uses Mia's last name. he's a "Farrow.")

Mia wanted to be his "queen bee" in his films. And, I actually think he fell in love with Soon Yi. (The gal that never knew her own parents. And, lived the life of Cinderella ... where she was used as a scull6y maid.)

Woody Allen is, in fact, shy.

And, I wanted to see this American Masters show. But I don't watch TV. And, Amazon doesn't have this particular DVD from the series.

It is nice of you to provide a link to see it on the Net.

Carol_Herman said...

Woody Allen wasn't married to Farrow.

Farrow was once married to Frank Sinatra, though.

Allen is now on his 3rd marriage. But I don't think Farrow was ever one of his wives.

The other odd ball thing about their arrangement, is that BOTH had their own Manhattan apartments.

Farrow could have easily made up the charges against Woody. Because, among other things, Woody's wife does NOT consider Mia Farrow to be her mother! She was just used to raise the other kids ... Mia adopted the way Angela Jolie adopts. "Visit a country, adopt a kid."

It's interesting that Woody Allen just kept on working. After being defamed. And, his movies keep getting better and better!

themightypuck said...

That scene with Christopher Walken in Annie Hall has me for life. Plus he occasionally hits with one of his yearly swings. I like that. He keeps plugging away doing his shit.

Brian said...

I'm not a big Woody Allen fan; he has nothing particularly interesting to say. (Take the Money & Run and Sleeper were funny. And Bananas.) But in the course of the turmoil between him & Farrow, she tried to get an advantage by accusing him of child molestation; and I don't mean the young woman he eventually married, but an actual child.

Any woman who does that deserves a low rung in hell. Fuck her.

Titus said...

Love Woody and really loved the Bill T. Jones bio. That queen is a big bitch.

Gary Rosen said...

"At least one good thing came out of that marriage.

I thought they were never actually married."

C-fudd lies again. Here's a clue, folks - he *always* lies. Because he's a compulsive liar, like the rest of his Jooo-baiting butt buddies.

phx said...
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Don't Tread 2012 said...

Virgil Starkwell is my hero.

Cellist in a marching band.

"It says, 'I have a gub'...what's a gub?"

"No, that's an 'n', not a 'b'...it's 'gun'."

"It looks like a 'b'..."

wv - ledoche

J said...
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Pogo said...

When shame, like God, is dead, nothing is impossible.

Some create entertaining movies, some tout global warming for profit, some flash mob convenience stores, and others crap on police cars.

It's all good.

Well, it's all tolerated.

Phil 3:14 said...

I like Wood y's movies; personal life not so much.

So which director's view of NYC do you prefer:
Allen's, Scorsese's or Lee's (as in "Spike")?

MadisonMan said...

I cannot stand Woody Allen's voice/accent. It's right up there in cringeworthyness with Penn State's new Football Coach's Johnstownian twang.

caplight said...

Pogo: "When shame, like God, is dead, nothing is impossible."

There some people who's personal life keeps me from appreciating their art. Woody allen is one of those.

new york said...

the "mia farrow stuff"? you mean the scandal of Woody Allen at age 55, having an affair with and taking nude pictures of his step daughter Soon Yi, age 19 and then agreeing to "settle" it by marrying her? No wonder he is afraid of death, that is some legacy he leaves behind, even the siblings have to explain to people, yea, my dad married my sister.

KenK said...

A beta male version of the very creepy Roman Polanski only with more pervy sleaze and less talent.

Carnifex said...

Any biography that skips an "unpleasant" chapter in a persons life is not a biography, its a white wash. Joe Paterno has just moved nest door to Woody, and I'll not have anything to do with people who indulge, or condone, pederasty.

The same problem applies to Islam. They insist that Muhammed was the "perfect" man and good Muslims should emulate his life, but he was a pederast, among his other little quirks. That's always and will forever be a non-starter for me.

Christopher in MA said...

Farrow was married to Sinatra and Andre Previn. She and Allen kept separate apartments on opposite sides of Central Park.

Never cared for her; "Rosemary's Baby" was chilling in spite of her and only that silly Jean Seberg haircut made her seem appropriately overmatched against evil.

I have never found Allen's movies funny at all. "Bananas?" "Take The Money and Run?" "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" Boring. Immensely boring (so I'm a philistine). The only movie of his I ever liked was "Radio Days," and that because it was a lovely excercise in nostalgia with none of Allen's political idiocy or pedophilic creepiness.

Most overrated director of the twentieth century, as far as I'm concerned.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Skip the Woody Allen.

Here is a much more interesting documentary about how beer saved the world.

J said...
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MikeR said...

I have mixed feelings about these kinds of evil people who hurt everyone around them, but make good art. Basically, our contempt for them should be our primary reaction.

Revenant said...

I've always found Allen pretty interesting.

His films are pretty hit and miss from the 80s onwards -- and more "miss" than "hit" -- but he still made more genuinely enjoyable films prior to that than just about any other director I can think of.

roesch/voltaire said...

Nice summation of the documentary Althouse, I felt much the same way and was left a bit in awe of his incredibly fertile imagination which focuses on "the work" rather than the big box office money maker. Frankly I hadn't seen many of his 1990 films except for Bullets over Broadway, but revisited his works in Match Point- powerful, liked the edge in Vicky and found Paris charming--

Steve Koch said...

So the biography ignored the central scandal of Woody's life? Gutless and boring decision to ignore the most interesting and controversial aspects of your subject.

Woody and Mia became a couple when Soon Yi was 10 years old. Woody was effectively (but not technically, since he and Mia did not marry) Soon Yi's step father for 11 years. Woody and Mia stayed together for 11 years, until Mia discovered naked pictures of Soon Yi in Woody's drawers and that Woody and Soon Yi were having an affair. Obviously Mia was shocked and horrified.

Woody still professes to not get what was wrong about what he did (he said "the heart wants what the heart wants").

Having said all that, Woody was a funny guy when he was younger. Like most comedians, he got less funny as he got older.

Eric said...

Woody and Mia became a couple when Soon Yi was 10 years old. Woody was effectively (but not technically, since he and Mia did not marry) Soon Yi's step father for 11 years. Woody and Mia stayed together for 11 years, until Mia discovered naked pictures of Soon Yi in Woody's drawers and that Woody and Soon Yi were having an affair. Obviously Mia was shocked and horrified.

I can't decide if I'm socially progressive or hopelessly old fashioned. Without the ring Farrow had no expectation Allen would stay with her after it became convenient to leave. And Soon Yi Previn was an adult unrelated to him. He wasn't her stepfather. Previn has said she never considered Allen to be any kind of father figure, a role she reserves for adoptive father Andre Previn.

To me this is no more serious than any time a man cheats on his girlfriend. It's kind of a dick move, sure, but not enough for the kind of universal condemnation he got over it.

I can't help but feel the driving force behind the animus has more to do with the fact that Allen dumped Farrow for a much younger woman than anything else.