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A Kind of Slither

Michael Wood: Woody Allen, 27 April 2000

The Unruly Life of Woody Allen 
by Marion Meade.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 297 81868 6
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... The films of Woody Allen are dedicated to the proposition that life is both alarming and boring. Is this possible? Surely alarms are at least interesting? Nothing is interesting in Allen’s imagined world except the nervousness of the mind observing the banality, the sheer invention with which the imagination pictures its cage ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Fading Gigolo’, 19 June 2014

Fading Gigolo 
directed by John Turturro.
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... simplify their doubts and decide they have seen it all before. It’s true the film owes a lot to Woody Allen, and not just because he has a major acting part in it. It owes a lot to the Coen Brothers too. But it entirely lacks the angry edge that marks the later Allen films and its quirkiness is quieter than even the ...

Not a great decade to be Jewish

Will Self, 11 February 1993

Complete Prose 
by Woody Allen.
Picador, 473 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 0 330 32820 4
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... to enter a debate, I feel that at the outset I should declare an interest – the influence of Woody Allen’s comic style on my own. Two out of the three collections of humorous pieces included in this bumper volume were my primers, my textbooks, the canonical forms to which I have returned time and again when considering what it is to be funny in ...

Smarter, Happier, More Productive

Jim Holt: ‘The Shallows’, 3 March 2011

The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember 
by Nicholas Carr.
Atlantic, 276 pp., £17.99, September 2010, 978 1 84887 225 7
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... I don’t own a computer, have no idea how to work one,’ Woody Allen told an interviewer recently. Most of us have come to find computers indispensable, but he manages to have a productive life without one. Are those of us with computers really better off? There are two ways that computers might add to our wellbeing ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: National Poetry Day, 5 October 2000

... Here Edison is joined by, among others, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Curie and Woody Allen: ‘The universe is merely a fleeting idea in God’s mind – a pretty uncomfortable thought, particularly if you’ve just made a down payment on a house.’ Perhaps the most profound observation of all comes from Montgomery ...


Marilyn Butler, 22 January 1981

Three-Quarter Face 
by Penelope Gilliatt.
Secker, 295 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780436179587
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Show People 
by Kenneth Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77842 0
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When the lights go down 
by Pauline Kael.
Boyars, 592 pp., £8.95, August 1980, 0 7145 2726 2
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... I did with the late, great Jean Renoir in Paris, or deal with pigeons on a terrace as I did with Woody Allen. Earlier in the Seventies, as a working critic, Gilliatt spent rewarding afternoons watching films. She is at her best when, after a session of classics, perhaps at the Museum of Modern Art, she recapitulates the early careers of individual ...

Petal by Petal

C.K. Stead, 27 May 1993

E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962 
edited by George Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £33, January 1993, 0 87140 145 2
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... In the Woody Allen movie Hannah and Her Sisters Eliot (Michael Caine) contrives to cross paths on a Manhattan street with his sister-in-law. Lee (Barbara Hershey), with whom he has fallen in love. He pretends to be hunting for a bookshop: she shows him the way to it and there he finds, as if by chance, E.E. Cummings’s Collected Poems, which he insists on buying for her ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Blue Jasmine’, 24 October 2013

Blue Jasmine 
directed by Woody Allen.
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... Many critics and viewers have felt that Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s best film since Match Point. The accompanying implication is that the intervening works – seven movies, starting with Scoop and ending at To Rome with Love – are just international chaff, too lightweight to get interested in. If you think, as I do, that such a judgment confuses solemnity with seriousness, that Match Point represents one of the worst dips in Allen’s career, and that the later films were often funny and showed at least flickers of artistic life, you have a bit of explaining to do ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Spies, 22 July 2010

... Virginia – has played with the idea that they were pantomime villains, a bit of a joke. ‘More Woody Allen than John Le Carré,’ the Sunday Times said, while nevertheless doing its best to turn its report into the raciest of spy stories, presenting a sexed-up version of the 55-page charge sheet released by the FBI – the only actual information ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... Left for decades, crystallised in a film called The Front.’ (The Front, made in 1976, starred Woody Allen as a writer who makes a living lending his name for a fee to blacklisters’ TV scripts, and Zero Mostel, actually blacklisted by Hollywood for years, as a blacklisted comedian who kills himself – as several people did.) If the McCarthy era no ...


Christopher Ricks, 2 August 1984

The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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... Melly. The parodied A’s have it: Douglas Adams (hitchhiking through a galaxy of fading stars), Woody Allen, Kingsley Amis, Anon, John Aubrey, Auden and Ayckbourn. An Auden parody is called ‘Self-Congratulatory Ode ...’, but it is the purr of mutual congratulation which is deafening. ‘Parody is frequently welcomed by its victims, who recognise it ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Lincoln’, 20 December 2012

... that has Tommy Lee Jones underneath it. Jones gets craggier with every film he is in, his face, as Woody Allen might say, a combination of Gertrude Stein’s and some local mountain. He manages to be funny and bleak without any sense of contradiction between the two effects. And then there’s Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. The film would be worth seeing ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: John White’s New World, 5 April 2007

... up of scenes copied from the de Bry plates, with John Smith (and Pocahontas) popping up rather as Woody Allen does in Zelig. Many of the watercolour drawings are damaged: in the mid-19th century they were being held for sale by Sotheby’s, there was a fire, they got wet and took several weeks to dry. If they had been destroyed we would still have de ...

Joan Didion’s Style

Martin Amis, 7 February 1980

The White Album 
by Joan Didion.
Weidenfeld, 223 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77702 5
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... risk such a take-me-or-leave-me tone. It occurs to you that Miss Didion’s reasons for disliking Woody Allen’s Manhattan, and for attacking it at length in the New York Review, are perhaps largely defensive in origin. What is objectionable about Manhattan is not that it is knowing, cute, ‘in’, as Miss Didion claimed. What is objectionable about ...

Neurotic Health

Michael Shepherd, 17 December 1981

Becoming Psychiatrists 
by Donald Light.
Norton, 429 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 393 01168 2
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... ideas and affects avoided by the fragmented ego’. At times he is like a character in a Woody Allen scenario: A resident presented a case familiar to Dr Blumberg. He had recommended bringing up transference issues, and the patient had begun to talk about her feelings for her old therapist. The resident had asked her if she had similar feelings ...

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