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Conversations with Woody Allen: His Films, the Movies, and Moviemaking Hardcover – October 16, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Woody Allen biographer Lax has been conversing with the elusive, beloved film director for 36 years, and here's the proof: transcripts of their detailed shop talk distilled into chapters covering seven elements of filmmaking-writing, casting, shooting, etc.-and Allen's career as a whole. Despite a reputation for being odd and unapproachable, the man revealed in these dialogues is likable, forthcoming and even humble: "It's just not in me to make a great film; I don't have the depth of vision to do it." Fans, of course, will want to argue otherwise, but they'll be too absorbed by this fascinating, decades-long discussion to register the grievance. From the tremendous stable of actors Allen has directed-especially former muses Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow-to the deceptively intriguing details of editing Another Woman, Lax's interviews are penetrating but far from formal, giving readers the unique opportunity to hear Allen's thoughts on projects-in-progress (everything from Bananas to Match Point) and to join him on location. Fans will find a trove of Woody-on-Woody insight (heavy on second-guessing, light on personal details), and there's much advice for the aspiring artist: "The key is to work, enjoy the process, don't read about yourself... and keep your nose to the grindstone." Even casual fans will appreciate this work; with a handy index for tracking down favorite films and something interesting on nearly every page, it's a perfectly browsable volume. B/w photos.
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“Fascinating . . . Readers will find a trove of Woody-on-Woody insight, and there’s much advice for the aspiring artist . . . Even casual fans will appreciate this work; with a handy index for tracking down favorite films and something interesting on nearly every page, it’s a perfectly browsable volume.”
-Baltimore Sun

“Lax’s informed questions . . . allow Allen to speak with intelligence and maturity.”
-Washington Post

“Intimate . . . essential reading for anyone interested in the art of filmmaking and especially for those who appreciate the work of Woody Allen.”
-Tucson Citizen’s

-Deseret News Publishing

“Mesmerizing . . .”
-Financial Times

“Compiled over thirty-six years of interviews, conversations, and experiences one could only glean from gaining Allen’s confidence and respect, Conversations is essential reading for aspiring filmmakers and those who wish to eventually put finger to keyboard in hopes of telling a story, but it is no less intriguing for simple cinephiles.”
-Los Angeles Times

“Remarkable . . . fresh with an immediacy often missing in a retrospective.”
-The News & Observer

“Absorbing . . . must reading for Allen admirers and fans of contemporary cinema . . . . Endlessly fascinating self-exposure by a controversial, defiantly prickly artist.”

“When it comes to books about the careers of famous filmmakers, most authors . . . start with the early efforts, move forward in time and eventually arrive at the subject’s last or latest work . . . Fortunately, Eric Lax’s new book . . . refreshingly throws that old format out the window.”
-Roanoke Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375415335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375415333
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For sheer inventiveness and variety of films, the work of writer and director Woody Allen is unmatched. Their number, also, is impressive, almost forty movies since his first one, the hilarious fake documentary (it was made before anyone had coined the word "mockumentary") _Take the Money and Run_ in 1969. Not every one is a classic, but some certainly are, whether comedy (_Annie Hall_), comedy with a dramatic edge (_Manhattan_), fables (_The Purple Rose of Cairo_), comic intimations of the godlessness of our universe (_Crimes and Misdemeanors_), or drama (the recent _Match Point_). So if you are familiar with the movies, you will be fascinated with _Conversations With Woody Allen: His Films, the Movies, and Moviemaking_ (Knopf) by Eric Lax. Lax was a reporter in 1971 when he was assigned to check out the new director. The conversation didn't turn into an article, with Allen replying just "Yes" or "No" too often, but Lax tried again, this time for just a chat, which grew into more formal interviews, and as the years went by, discussions about his projects as Allen was working on them. Allen has participated in recent conversations with Lax just to make this book current, and has clarified and added to the text, so that the work is a unique look into the mind of one of America's great filmmakers. Because the conversations are with Woody Allen, too, they are funny and self-deprecating, but also generous in giving credit to others.

It is fun to learn where he gets his ideas. "When I go to sleep at night, put my head on the pillow, or walk down the street, I like to be thinking of story ideas. I'm always thinking about new plots. I would do anything to avoid that horrible moment of What do I do next?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Aretis on February 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Conversations with Woody Allen may very well be one of the finest books in regard to Woody Allen. The whole book consists of questions given to Woody at diffrent time periods. Many of which were during production of his films. This books allows you to generate an in depth understanding of Woody and who he really is. Within the book you find virtually everything. Images from many of his films, as well as a biography of his younger years, his favorite music and films, and whats going through his mind while filming and writing his one of a kind pieces. Each chapter consists of a diffrent subject, from directing, writing, editing and scoring the film. All of which give the reader an understanding of Woodys methods.

Woody Allen is a master in his field, and I highly recommend this book to whomever is into film, or hoping to get into film. You will understand methods in which one of the greatest director/screenwriters uses, as well a side you never expected from such a comic character on the big screen.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Franco Amigoni on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am 47.
I started to see Allen's movies a long time ago.
Every year, 90 minutes with an unknown friend,
sometimes fun, sometimes tragic, always entertaining.
Every important moment of my life could be associated with a Woody's film.
Every sentimental feeling, as well.
I have the habit to discuss a movie, after having seen it, usually in a "Pizzeria" with my friends.
I want to reassure Mister Allen that this habit is alive.
The book shares with us his professional story along the years, from the sixties right now.
It's a fantastic way to live all the emotions from the opposite point of view,
and it is a real pleasure.
I share also more of Mister Allen's reflections about life and death, and i was very
disappointed when his italian voice (Oreste Lionello), in a recent TV interview on an italian network,
used Mister Allen face to express ideas completely different from the author.
Explicitly, but anycase a sort of violence against Mister Allen.
Woody, life is very difficult, but it would have been worst without you.
Thanks a lot.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Pierulla on December 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ok I don't like Mr. Allen...I simply thrive upon his presence in this universe.

I never just saw a Woody Allen movie, read a Woody Allen short story or listened to a Woody Allen monologue...I was a participant in them. No I don't think I am psycotic, maybe a semi-adjusted bipolar person, who is cynical and overly critical about most things in this life, however swimming in the wake of Mr. Allen I somehow manage to smile at the "awful grace" of this existance. I do feel guilty since he does the heavy lifting and I benefit from it.

Recalling his movies is like recalling my first kiss, scoring my first touchdown, pineing my first broken heart or noticing death for the first time.

I recall each flick; when, where, who I saw it with, and the state of mind I left the theater to pursue the endless nuances of the adventure.

To the book. I hesitated picking it up as it is four hundred pages and did I really want to be mesmerized by Mr. Alllen and Mr. Lax during this very busy time. I resisted for almost four days then I was seduced, trapped and on my way to an intellectual orgasm that seems to continue when I turn each page.

These two guys are like friends you wish you had who made you totally comfortable hearing them talk and thilled that you are allowed to just be in the room and honored to be listening.

If you are an educator you must study it, if you are a doctor you must examine it, if you are performing artist you must value it, if you are a writer you must consume it and if you are, like myself an everyday person you gotta love it.

Bravo guys you gave me a great holiday gift.
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