Woody Allen considers himself lazy. That’s a recurring theme in this book, which is a thematically organized collection of interviews with Eric Lax, completed over the last thirty-five years.
The thing is, Allen’s not very persuasive in that regard. What comes through in the text is that Allen, one of the most prolific of American filmmakers, is involved in every aspect of his productions. There seems to be no detail too small for him to ignore, even down to bits of music in individual scenes.
By its nature, this book is repetitive in places and spotty in others, but it presents a well-rounded professional portrait of Allen at different stages of his varied and restless career. In these interviews, Allen comes off as precise and thoroughly knowledgeable about film — his lists of favorite movies are priceless — but extremely self-critical, convinced as he is that he’s never made anything approaching a great movie. It also seems to bother him that so many people still measure his new work against “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” from the late 1970’s — or even his earlier slapstick ones. He views all those films as less accomplished than some of the movies that followed, particularly “Match Point,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” and “Husbands and Wives.”
This book is recommended, both for those interested in Allen and readers interested in how films are made. Photos, index.