Con­ver­sa­tions With Woody Allen: His Films, The Movies, and Moviemaking

Eric Lax
  • Review
By – March 5, 2012

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. 

David Cohen is a senior edi­tor at Politi­co. He has been in the jour­nal­ism busi­ness since 1985 and wrote the book Rugged and Endur­ing: The Eagles, The Browns and 5 Years of Foot­ball. He resides in Rockville, MD.; his wife, Deb­o­rah Bod­in Cohen, writes Jew­ish children’s books.

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