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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 WoodyAllen 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. The comedy arises constantly from the gap between where ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Fading Gigolo’

18 June 2014
Fading Gigolo 
directed by John Turturro.
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... delicate matters. The uncertainty does the film no harm but it seems to have prompted critics to simplify their doubts and decide they have seen it all before. It’s true the film owes a lot to WoodyAllen, 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 ...
11 February 1993
Complete Prose 
by Woody Allen.
Picador, 473 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 0 330 32820 4
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... Like a Member of Parliament about to enter a debate, I feel that at the outset I should declare an interest – the influence of WoodyAllen’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 ...

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,’ WoodyAllen 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 ...

Reviewers

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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... friends, plays word games, or goes walking with a dog. One can go shopping with people, or cook, as I did with the late, great Jean Renoir in Paris, or deal with pigeons on a terrace as I did with WoodyAllen. 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: National Poetry Day

5 October 2000
... A Collection of Quotations on the History, Meaning and Practice of Science, edited by Rob Kaplan (Stonesong, £19.95). Here Edison is joined by, among others, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Curie and WoodyAllen: ‘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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Blue Jasmine’

23 October 2013
Blue Jasmine 
directed by Woody Allen.
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... Many critics and viewers have felt that Blue Jasmine is WoodyAllen’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 ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: John White’s New World

5 April 2007
... The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Sumer Isles, published in 1624, is made up of scenes copied from the de Bry plates, with John Smith (and Pocahontas) popping up rather as WoodyAllen 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 ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Spies

22 July 2010
... in ordinary corners of America – in Montclair, New Jersey; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Arlington, Virginia – has played with the idea that they were pantomime villains, a bit of a joke. ‘More WoodyAllen 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 ...
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 WoodyAllen 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 ...
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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... Committee, and says: ‘This smacks of the kind of romantic wish-dream that stayed with the Old Left for decades, crystallised in a film called The Front.’ (The Front, made in 1976, starred WoodyAllen 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 – ...

Amigos

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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... show: Miles Kington and Russell Davies, Alan Coren and Clive James, Malcolm Bradbury and George Melly. The parodied A’s have it: Douglas Adams (hitchhiking through a galaxy of fading stars), WoodyAllen, 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 ...

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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... the process of feeling oneself into the patient’s dilemma to discover the painful experience, ideas and affects avoided by the fragmented ego’. At times he is like a character in a WoodyAllen 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 ...

Idiot Mambo

Robert Taubman

16 April 1981
Cities of the Red Night 
by William Burroughs.
Calder, 332 pp., £9.95, March 1981, 0 7145 3784 5
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The Tokyo-Montana Express 
by Richard Brautigan.
Cape, 258 pp., £6.50, April 1981, 0 224 01907 4
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... sake’. Brautigan does mention – about buying the New York Times – ‘the responsibility for being a thinking and aware person’: but he takes the precaution of sounding like a parody of WoodyAllen sounding like someone who ... etc ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Synecdoche, New York’

11 June 2009
Synecdoche, New York 
directed by Charlie Kaufman.
April 2009
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...  and the film is very funny as well as very grim, often funniest when it’s grimmest. Sometimes it’s just grim and lingering, allowing Cotard to wallow in his not very interesting angst, as if WoodyAllen had visited us with one of his earnest moments. You have to wonder whether there is a virus that makes witty American moviemakers want to be Ingmar Bergman at least once in their lives. This is ...

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