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The idea of this book was very appealing. Hearing about Woody Allen's process promised to be a very insightful story. And it is, in bits and pieces. Unfortunately, it's stuck inside extended passages about the filming of a few recent films, in particular, Irrational Man. There are ponderously long excerpts of dialogue, read by the narrator, which at times only tangentially touch on the theme of the chapter.
I watched the film later, and thought it was a quite good, fitting somewhere in the middle of Allen's work, better than small comedies of the early 00's, but not quite as entertaining as the likes of Manhattan Murder Mystery. Certainly not to the level of the classics however. Which is kind of the point. A blow by blow account of Annie Hall, or Hannah and Her Sisters, or Crimes and Misdemeanors, or even Bananas, (that is, one of the classics in their respective genres) would have been a treasure trove. (A running account of Husbands and Wives certainly would have been interesting, but way too cringeworthy, I fear).
Without any deep connection to this particular film, those extended parts seemed a bit laborious. (I would highly recommend the film memoirs for High Noon and The Princess Bride, neither of them one my all-time favorites, but good stories nonetheless).
Which brings me to what I think the underlying purpose of the book really was. There is a section about 15 to 20 minutes long, somewhere in the middle of the book (can't really be bothered to check exactly), which purports to explain the genesis in Allen's mind for the motivation of the main character in Irrational Man and his murder of an unethical judge. It seems a bit tenuous, but there is, for once, a defense of Allen regarding some domestic allegations, which anyone reading this is most certainly aware. It's actually refreshing, as I am not aware of any such public defense by Allen, or of him by representatives, and certainly not at this length. It's clear and concise and lays out the rational case, in a world where such stories tend to take on a sensational life of their own. It's virtually impossible to have a civil debate on issues like these, and perhaps this is the only way Allen's side could be presented. At least that's what I thought as I heard it.
There are good spots, and if you loved the film of Irrational Man, you may enjoy this even more. But for me, I just wished there had been a more iconic film as a touchstone for the story of Woody Allen's moviemaking.
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