Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Thursday 20 April 2017

Review: Chris Wade's Comprehensive Woody Allen On Screen Overview

Woody Allen is seemingly fixated on the end. He has little truck for the long haul that leads up to his inevitable demise. Life to him, like film making, is "'a different kind of pain."

Chris Wade, in his book Woody Allen On Screen, does us all a favour by dispensing with the "'did he, didn't he"'tittle-tattle of Allen"s much raked over personal life. 

What we get instead is an exhaustive and fascinating journey through the fifty-plus year career of the iconic master"s film related activities.

It is a career based on a foundation of comedy, but also built upon layers of an intricate understanding of the human condition, that gives it the depth and momentum that uncovers the truths and anxieties which concern and consume us all. 

There's a career cut-off point. There's pre-1975 when Allen was slowly edging towards complete control over his films. And post-1975 when he was able to stamp his personality ….

Allen"s first forays into film - What's New Pussycat? (1965) and  What's Up Tiger Lilly? (1966) - were neither a success nor did they give any inkling of the unique all round talent to come.

He then took the reigns for Take the Money and Run (1969): as the director, writer and lead actor.

Of the movie Wade says: "Even nearly fifty years on, Take the Money and Run is an exceptional comedy, and as a first proper directorial effort it's not lost an ounce of its boldness and vitality."

The crossroads came with Love and Death. In Wade's view the 1975 movie is Allen's first "serious" movie, and by that he means in its stylistic approach and also the themes it deals with." 


The author also feels that by the mid-seventies "Allen had become his own man, and though he had channelled Chaplin, Hope and the Marx Brothers, their influences were merely stepping stones to his own equally iconic persona and movie style."

Then the stylistic and artistic leaps just kept on coming. The populist Annie Hall (1977),  the more intense and questioning Interiors (1978), and the beauty of the black and white reels of Manhattan (1979).

Then the public were bemused by Stardust Memories (1980). Having thought they had Allen figured out as being akin to the characters he portrayed on screen, suddenly he presented them with what many saw as his most "difficult, destructive and non-commercial picture", 

Wade disagrees and believes the picture is "a complex, deep and fascinating study of egotistical self importance." 


But disproving the theory that Woody only makes movies for himself, he returned in 1982 with the more delicate and palatable A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy.

Space dictates that from 1982 to the present day I can only report that Allen"s cinematic career has produced all the highs and lows and hits and diminishing returns you'd expect from one man conceiving and committing to film almost a movie a year.

Wade concludes that the main thing he admires about Woody is "his productivity and his refusal to grow old like millions of other fogeys have done around the world. 

"Whether you like all his new movies or not, it's irrelevant, for Woody is expressing himself in as many varied and splendid ways as he can with cinema; keeping himself fresh, energetic and young at heart. 

"But perhaps most importantly for Allen, he's avoiding staring death in the face."

Woody Allen On Screen by Chris Wade is available now by CLICKING HERE. For info on Wade"s books, magazines, music making and film work CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley




Share    


Miss Represented, Brighton Dome's award winning creative learning project, has received a grant of £44,200 from the Youth Endowment Fund to support young women in Brighton & Hove.

United We Stream Brighton continues to showcase some of the city's best local artists and venues to help raise money for local charities and to keep the city's nightlife alive.

Taking place at the British Airways i360 venue on Brighton's beachfront, the award-winning Brighton Music Conference is set to return to the city this coming autumn.
Credit Olivia Rose

Mercury Prize 2020 shortlisted Kiwanuka looks inward and out, across widescreen sonic landscapes constructed in recording studios in London, Los Angeles and New York, and provides a showcase for the honey-poured mahogany of Michael Kiwanuka's voice.
Credit Phoebe Wingrove

Displayed across the suburbs of Brighton, a new work - A Simple Act of Wonder - by artists Walter & Zoniel celebrates human connection and our experiences of joy in unprecedented times.

An ambitious vision to help boost nature and drive a green economic recovery has been unveiled by the South Downs National Park Authority and partners.

A Virtue is the new single from Popcorn Fiend, and the second track to be lifted from the Scottish musician's debut album Distance, which occupies a space somewhere between the industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails and the melodic synth-pop of Chvrches.
Credit Alberta Whittle

Photoworks Festival is the reshaping of one of the UK's longest running photography festivals - Brighton Photo Biennial - and is an idea developed by Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks, which asks what a photography festival can be and who they are for. 

Blake Auden is a writer, poet and graphic artist living in Hove. Inspired by his love for war poetry as a child, Blake's debut collection Tell the Birds She's Gone has sold out twice and has gained an ever-growing fan base of over 90,000 people.

Oska Bright Film Festival, the world's leading learning disability film festival based in Brighton, takes its programme to the small screen with Oska Bites, regular programmes of award-winning short films.

Bastille's new song, which features Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, might feel like a bit of a surprise release, not least to the band themselves, but as frontman Dan Smith says: “We finished the song and it felt urgent. We didn't want to sit on it.”

Quintet Junodream are drawing on a wider palette of sounds for new single Easy Life, with post-rock and modern prog blending into their expansive mix of shoegaze and psychedelia. 
Credit Jack McKain

Bedroom soul artist cehryl came to the United States from her native Hong Kong to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston and post-college found herself in Los Angeles forming a tight-knit scene with friends Zack Villere, Mulherin, Dijon, Alex Szotak and Soft Glas.

Brighton-based singer-songwriter and all-round alt-pop fireball Oz's debut single Money is a statement-of-intent, an uncompromising synthesis of Garbage's dark-hued rock/electronica crossover with the bass-heavy zest of contemporary alt-pop. 

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd