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    


Sussex's countryside event, the South of England Show, returned last weekend after a year off due to the pandemic.  
Credit Karina Barberis

In a world where we're taught to aspire to unattainable levels of perfection, Brighton-bound Dublin singer-songwriter-producer Orla Gartland's unfiltered honesty is a breath of fresh air. 
Credit Sam Lee

Charleston's beautiful walled garden was a canvas, a studio, a prop store, a stage, a sanctuary, and once again this summer, it will be a place to learn and be inspired.

Midsummer Day, 21st June, sees the return of Make Music Day; a worldwide celebration of music in person, online and beyond. 

Brighton based rap artist Milky is keeping it local by releasing his debut single I Miss You Mum on We Are Not Saints, a non-profit record label and live music company that solely works with musicians in recovery from alcoholism and addiction. 

Lockdown should be the worst environment for a rising live band to emerge from, but Junodream have been flourishing in recent months.
Credit: Damien Hyde

Covid-19 was the catalyst that forced Scott Matthews to scale a musical Everest with his recently released seventh album New Skin

A founder member of acclaimed electronic rock group Death in Vegas has formed a new Country & Western band. While that might catch fans by surprise, Steve Hellier says that with new act Django Rhinestone he's actually returning to his musical roots. 

Strike a Light – Arts & Heritage announce a forthcoming project, Remote Reminiscence – Getting Elders Online, beginning in September 2021.
Credit Christie Godwin

Singer and songwriter Imelda May's recently released sixth studio album 11 Past The Hour - her first new music in four years - is a record filled with sensuality, emotional intelligence, spirituality and intuition, marking a new chapter for Imelda and showcasing her at her most authentic.

Brighton Music Conference (BMC), the UK's foremost electronic music and networking event has teamed with Brighton nightclub The Arch for a special event on Sunday 27th June 2021.
Credit Edward Gilroy

Saving Grace will be visiting De La Warr Pavilion next month, featuring Robert Plant OBE on vocals. This will be the singer's first time performing at the East Sussex venue based in Bexhill-on-Sea.
Credit Mike Hoban

Glyndebourne Festival 2021 continues in June with further performances of Kát'a Kabanová and Il turco in Italia and a concert from Robin Ticciati and the London Philharmonic Orchestra that explores ancient and modern English music.

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