From Publishers Weekly
Part overview of the director's cinematic career, part interview with Allen himself, this handy book couldn't have been written by someone with more impeccable credentials. As Time's longtime film critic, Schickel is one of the deans of the milieu. He approaches his subject with an obvious admiration (Schickel immersed himself in studying every one of Allen's films for a month each), but manages not to engage in too much idol worship. The sit-down interview with the reclusive director is the most revealing section, filled with fresh glimpses into his films. There, readers learn that Annie Hall was originally called Anhedonia, until studio execs begged Allen to rename it; and that Allen sees very few of his films as artistic successes. The book's structure is quite rambling-dwelling on one film, going on to another and returning again to the first-which can be disconcerting at times. But real conversations are like that, and the book's lack of order doesn't prevent it from being a rare window into one of the great minds of modern cinema.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Last year film critic Schickel conducted a four-hour interview with Allen for a 90-minute television documentary. This volume transcribes the entire conversation and is probably the longest interview with the notoriously reclusive filmmaker ever published. The discussion focuses on Allen's 32 films, touching only briefly on the scandals that sidetracked his career. The former stand-up comedian is dead serious about his work. Barely a trace of humor leavens his and Schickel's lengthy discussion of all of Allen's familiar concerns: morality, religion, uneasiness with celebrity, and, of course, relations between the sexes. As insightful as the interview, Schickel's lengthy introduction details the growing sophistication of Allen's craftsmanship and strongly argues for some of the much-maligned later films. Allen's commercial peak has long passed-- Schickel notes that his movies' U.S. box office performance now resembles that of foreign films--but he retains a hard core of fans. Even those who have lost patience with Allen's recent efforts will want to read what he has to say about his 1970s masterworks. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved