A long, long time ago in the land of Brooklyn, New York City, there lived a young, Jewish, nervous, wise-cracking kid by the name of Allan Stewart Konigsberg. He was intrigued with magic tricks, the clarinet and possessed a very innate talent for humouring those around him.
Naturally, it wasn’t long before Allan attracted the attention of those in high positions of media and show biz. At 15 he was writing jokes for the local newspaper and not long after, found himself doing stand up in front of live crowds, under the peculiar alias, Woody Allen. A name he plucked out of mid air.
Now one would think being a pioneer of philosophical film making, that his choice of stage name may have involved a tad more consideration. However, here in lies the beautiful dichotomy with Allen, a theme explored with great tenderness in this latest and I do believe greatest documentary, about one of the most revered filmmakers of the 21st century.
Robert Weide, a director notorious for documenting American comedians, has struck gold with this wonderfully engaging and very funny film. At no point does he threaten Allen’s privacy nor taint the audiences perception of him. However tempting this may be to do towards the end of the film when exploring the very controversial marriage and divorce to Mia Farrow.
Really the focus is never shifted from what’s most important, Allen’s magnificently enlightening and self conscious body of work.
From debut Take the Money and Run, to cult classics Annie Hall and Manhattan. We get insights from those who have worked closest with him, unsurprisingly most of whom make up a slew of beautiful female actors, from the incomparable Diane Keaton on their mutual crush, to Mariel Hemingway and more recent starlets Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson.
We also get a very rare glimpse of that prized Olympia typewriter which has seen every letter of every script he has ever created. Roughly one a year it works out to be, and over 40 years of directing, performing and writing films that really is a staggering rate.
One can only hope he continues to bless us with his unique brand of intellectual pondering and neurotic humour.
For film buffs and those remotely intrigued in Woody Allen, this film will no doubt entertain, and for die hard fans, I would seek out the full two part program made for US television.