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The Ultimate Woody Allen Film Companion Hardcover – October 15, 2014
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"Flavorwire film editor Bailey (Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino's Masterpiece) has crafted a well-designed look at celebrated filmmaker Woody Allen, devoting brief chapters to each of the director's films. Bailey begins with a concise examination of Allen's early years as a comedy writer and his stand-up work; however, he makes it clear that his emphasis is on Allen's cinematic output, not his life or the scandals (those looking for biographical information would do well to consult John Baxter's Woody Allen: A Biography, Eric Lax's Woody Allen: A Biography, or films Woody Allen: A Documentary and Wild Man Blues). Though brief, the analyses are on point, and color photographs, graphics, pull-out quotes, and informational boxes give the book the feel of a highbrow movie magazine. Interspersed throughout are short essays that add nuance and texture, considering, for instance, Allen's obsession with death and his decisions to shoot some films in black and white. While little of the material here will be new or surprising to most film fans, it's artfully packaged and charmingly presented, making the volume an attractive option for hard-core fans and casual readers alike. VERDICT A delightful, though less than scholarly, addition to film collections." - Library Journal
About the Author
Jason Bailey is the film editor for Flavorwire, and his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, and the Village Voice. He is the author of Voyageur Press' Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino's Masterpiece (2013) and The Complete Woody Allen: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Woody Allen Movies * But Were Afraid to Ask (2014). Bailey has also done stints in TV news and video stores in addition to writing and directing eleven feature films in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. He now lives in New York with his Rebekah, where he sees too many movies and tweets too much (@jasondashbailey).http://twitter.com/jasondashbailey
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In addition to the summaries there are the following short sections:
* Woody's early life (6 pages) - almost entirely culled from the American Masters documentary he featured in, with absolutely no new information at all contained within the section. I've read numerous books containing interviews with Woody, and seen every interview I can find, and can think of numerous pieces of information that could have found their home into this chapter that would be much less widely known.
* Influences (2 pages/16 films) - The usual films Woody mentions in every interview. The list is of course 2/3 Begman and Fellini, with some Marx Brothers thrown in for good measure. Nothing new here. It could definitely be more in depth - each film gets a sentence or two each.
* Writing (2 pages/3 movies) - Rounding out Woody's filmography with 'What's, New Pussycat?', 'Casino Royale' and 'Don't Drink The Water (1969)' with films he wrote but didn't direct. Again, very thin on information, and totally devoid of anything deeper. For example: the fact Woody had an all expenses paid for 6 months in London while he was waiting to be called on to perform his very small role. During this time he actually wrote 'Don't Drink The Water'. Definitely a missed opportunity to tie the two together here.
* Judaism Theme (2.5 pages) - Guest Essay
* Muses: Diane Keaton, New York, Mia Farrow, Scarlett Johannson (4 pages interspersed throughout)
* Actor's with repeating roles in Woody's movies (2 page list)
* Cut Ideas (2 pages)
* Philosophy Theme (3 pages) - Guest Essay
* Films Starring Woody Allen that aren't his own (3 pages)
* Films influenced by Woody's work (1 page)
* Woody short biography (5 pages)
* Woody's Music (4 pages)
* Filming Style (4 pages)
* Death Theme (2 pages)
* Filming around Europe (4 pages) - Guest Essay
* Film making process (6 pages)
I have other books by the author, and I have to question whether this was just another release to him, where he did the least possible research to produce his book. Had he read some of the releases by other authors I believe he could have written a far more comprehensive, worthwhile companion.
The value of this book depends what category you fall into:
1. If you're NEW to Woody, then this would be good to flick through to read each films premise, helping you choose which film to watch next. If you're interested it could also provide you with a basic overview of his history and life.
2. If you're SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR with Woody's work you wont find anything new here - read a few of the other books available where he's being interviewed in depth (such as 'Woody Allen on Woody Allen' by Stig Bjorkman). If you want to know more about Woody's history, background, influences etc. watch American Masters: Woody Allen. It's a fantastic 2 part documentary that's widely available on various streaming services.
3. If you're a BIG FAN of Woody then give this one a miss entirely!