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American Masters Online
February 11, 2012 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Woody Allen: A Documentary (Part One, Part Two), a film by Robert Weide and part of the American Masters series on PBS, is now online.

PBS has put some other documentaries from this series online as well; two of my favorites are: Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and The Painter and A Letter to Elia, a film about the director Elia Kazan made by Martin Scorcese.
posted by bluefly (23 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Note: it appears to be available in the U.S. only.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:59 PM on February 11, 2012


I've been watching this series since I was a child, so I was happy find some of their more recent documentaries online today. Maybe they'll put some of their older ones up as well; I was a big fan of the Danny Kaye one. Maybe online streaming will be the future of public broadcasting.
On preview: Oh, sorry, I didn't even think about international viewing problems. Mods, you can remove if you see fit.
posted by bluefly at 4:02 PM on February 11, 2012


Sigh... FWIW, there are some clips on YouTube (official, but short) that seem to work in Canada:
- Woody Allen vs Manhattan
- When Woody Met Diane
- The Punatorium
posted by Sys Rq at 4:34 PM on February 11, 2012


I can't wait to watch this, and I am surprised that I am saying that because holy shit was Wild Man Blues the most boring Woody Allen-related thing put to film.
posted by griphus at 4:39 PM on February 11, 2012


I watched it first run on PBS, again off my DVR a couple of weeks later, linked to it in our last Woody Allen thread, and think it's worth watching for anyone who has an inkling.

It's also nearly 4 hours long, so be ready for that.
posted by hippybear at 4:44 PM on February 11, 2012


I can't wait to watch this, and I am surprised that I am saying that because holy shit was Wild Man Blues the most boring Woody Allen-related thing put to film.

So you didn't see You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger?
posted by Bromius at 5:11 PM on February 11, 2012


Do we have anything to learn from Woody Allen? I was a huge Woody Allen fan 20 years ago, but after the entire Soon-Yi debacle I stopped paying attention to him. I consider him to be a sociopath, or, perhaps, at best, a fraud. His entire approach to engaging with women is, given the events of real-life, wrong. Creepy. Fraudulent. Given his real-life approach to women, the Chekhov-inspired movies now seem like carefully-studied aping, rather than providing real insights into the human soul.

Although Crimes and Misdemeanors is a masterpiece.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:14 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do we have anything to learn from Woody Allen?

If you weren't in Japan, I'd suggest watching the documentary to learn a bit more than you seem to know about Allen so you could answer this question for yourself.
posted by hippybear at 5:18 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently the documentary will air in Canada on CBC in March.
posted by bluefly at 5:28 PM on February 11, 2012


Do we have anything to learn from Woody Allen?

If you weren't in Japan, I'd suggest watching the documentary to learn a bit more than you seem to know about Allen so you could answer this question for yourself.


Plus, Match Point was a fucking great movie.
posted by lumpenprole at 7:15 PM on February 11, 2012


It also resembles an arc of Crimes and Misdemeanors, so it's probably worth seeing if you like that film. My favorite of his in this the last decade was Cassandra's Dream.
posted by ersatz at 7:51 PM on February 11, 2012


Jean Luc-Godard's Meetin' WA
posted by jonp72 at 8:24 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu, Crimes and Misdemeanors is indeed a fantastic movie*, but I have to strenuously disagree that he's a fraud or a sociopath. To label him a fraud asserts that he has no talent, that he passes off the talent of others as his own. Do you have any specific examples? I can't speak to whether he is any stripe of sociopath.

*Among many others. Radio Days is likely my personal favorite. To be sure, he's released some real stinkbombs, but Midnight in Paris has real heart and is beautifully written.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:32 PM on February 11, 2012


I'm not sure if this is the best place to pontificate "why I hate Woody Allen", so I won't, and I regret making my original comment, which, in retrospect, seems sort of threadshitty. "My one regret in life is that I am not someone else."
posted by KokuRyu at 10:49 PM on February 11, 2012


! I found this to be a really interesting documentary, and not necessarily in a good way. I remember seeing Wild Man Blues, this one scene in particular where Woody and Soon-yi go into some crazy luxurious hotel room and are just not that impressed. Amused, but not impressed. What was revealing was that this guy is not only _rich_ but as become accustomed to it and expects the things that come with it. Nothing wrong with that, he has worked hard and has earned it. But it's not exactly how one thinks of him.
In this docu they show Woody as he'd like to be shown, I kept thinking. The scrappy kid from Brooklyn who kind of finds himself in show biz. There's little to nothing about who he is, how he sees the world, or how he sees himself in the world. I came away thinking I have no idea who this guy is but I know a lot of data.
I'm agnostic on the horrible person/not horrible person debate because I have nothing to do with the guy personally and have never met him. On the face of it, the Soon-yi thing is not particularly comprehensible but then again I never tried to figure out what happened there, so.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:17 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm agnostic on the horrible person/not horrible person debate because I have nothing to do with the guy personally and have never met him. On the face of it, the Soon-yi thing is not particularly comprehensible but then again I never tried to figure out what happened there, so.

I just heard Terry Gross interview with Woody Allen replay on NPR just a few days ago, and I have to say it was great. He talks about how people perceive him, how people look for bits of "the real Woody Allen" in his movies, and bits of his characters in his real life, which leads to endless discussion. But at the end of the day, he says people don't seem to understand that he's just acting. The truth is he was super-athletic as a child, he wasn't raised to value education, flunked out of the film program at NYU not because he was a rebel but because he was kind of lazy, and likes to sit at home and drink beer and watch basketball just like anyone else.
posted by phaedon at 1:13 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


In this docu they show Woody as he'd like to be shown

Yes, I got that feeling as well -- but I found his perception of himself to be fascinating in and of itself. It was like watching a Woody Allen film directed by someone else. I see the argument that this does not make for a very good biopic, but I found it an interesting exercise. I did like seeing the interviews with his sister and comparing her to him (Until this film, I had always thought he was an only child -- he just seems like one).
posted by bluefly at 2:10 AM on February 12, 2012


To label him a fraud asserts that he has no talent, that he passes off the talent of others as his own.

Speaking as a fan, my reading of that accusation was that Allen has supposedly misrepresented his own persona in some fashion -- as someone attracted to smart, and presumptively mature, women, for example. But even Manhattan -- based as it was in his own dating of a teenager -- shows that to be an audience presumption. Naturally, others have made the point that autobiography is almost inherently fraudulent at some level. So I don't take this criticism to be as foundation-crumbling as it may have been intended (by anyone who has made it).

To pivot: I well remember a point when Woody Allen fans self-divided into Annie Hall fans and Manhattan fans (or at least somebody wrote something like that once and I read it). My favorite for a long time was actually Hannah and Her Sisters followed closely by Broadway Danny Rose; I found on recent review that Manhattan is still a movie that I dislike in many respects, and Annie Hall feels strikingly dated. Of his very recent work, I thoroughly enjoyed Match Point (although in some respects it felt like a non-Allen film) and was generally baffled by Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And, you know, I still harbor a soft spot for What's Up, Tiger Lily?.
posted by dhartung at 2:33 AM on February 12, 2012


I prefer his earlier, funnier movies.
posted by incster at 4:00 AM on February 12, 2012


It's just me, I'm sure. I've never found him funny or brilliant. I've never considered him even close to the equal of a Bergman or a Scorcese.

And he married his stepdaughter, so not liking him has been a blessing. No moral qualms about seeing his movies after that, since I never wanted to see them anyway. He's been stuck in a time warp since "Take the Money and Run."
posted by spitbull at 5:32 AM on February 12, 2012


He writes the some of the best comedy dialogue of any screenwriter in history. As much as I dislike his personal choices in life (Soon-Yi aside, his life was a disaster long before her) his professional skills are hard to debate. And, sadly, I think he probably has a lot more hate for himself than most of his detractors. "Midnight In Paris" was the first film of his I saw in a movie theatre in over ten years. When it was over it occurred to me how much I missed him.
posted by FrankBlack at 6:23 AM on February 12, 2012


I thought the first half of this was fascinating -- some stuff on his rise through TV I didn't know, and a great sense of what an amazing breakthrough Annie Hall was. The second half struck me as terrible hagiography though, with people fluffing him left and right and not much insight. Woody seemed distanced and disinterested, which explains why, at least to my mind, he hasn't made a worthwhile movie this century.
posted by muckster at 2:30 PM on February 12, 2012


I've never found him funny or brilliant. I've never considered him even close to the equal of a Bergman or a Scorcese.

Hey now, be fair. When it comes to funny, no one -- but no one -- can parallel the sheer side-splitting hilarity of Ingmar Bergman.

Which is to say: Huh?

He's been stuck in a time warp since "Take the Money and Run."

I don't know what that means.

Take the Money and Run was his first proper movie. 1969. He's written and directed approximately one movie per year ever since and starred in a handful of others on top of that. They're not all funny; many of them are. They're not all great; many of them are. Many of the great ones aren't funny; many of the funny ones aren't great.

But, jeez, it's a hell of a lot of movies you're thumbing your nose at.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:19 PM on February 12, 2012


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