Thursday, November 17, 2011

Woody Allen documentary on Ameican Masters

There's a documentary about Woody Allen coming up on American Masters on PBS.

I heard a review today on public radio and it sounds like it should be interesting, focusing on his process of making a movie. The review said they quickly went over the Soon Yi troubles.

One would probably be well advised to steer clear of Woody Allen. He likes to sue people. Mia Farrow noted this in her autobiography---he sued her for custody of her children. A judge ruled that, even if Farrow were an "unfit mother", the court wouldn't hand her children to Allen.

She sued his friend, Jean Doumanian, after his sex scandal. She took up producing his movies when no one else would finance him. He was paid millions for writing and directing movies which consistently lost money, but he sued her and claimed that she had skimmed $12 million in "profits". She countersued. Claimed that Allen had cheated her out of $19 million. It was settled out of court.

Woody Allen, Bill Cosby

Joan Didion wrote about the characters in Allen's movies Annie Hall, Manhattan and Interiors:
...They have “interesting” occupations, none of which intrudes in any serious way on their dating. Many characters in these pictures “write,” usually on tape recorders. In Manhattan, Woody Allen quits his job as a television writer and is later seen dictating an “idea” for a short story....

In Annie Hall, Diane Keaton sings from time to time, at a place like Reno Sweeney’s. In Interiors she seems to be some kind of celebrity poet. In Manhattan she is a magazine writer, and we actually see her typing once, on a novelization, and talking on the telephone to “Harvey,” who, given the counterfeit “insider” shine to the dialogue, we are meant to understand is Harvey Shapiro, the editor of The New York Times Book Review. (Similarly, we are meant to know that the “Jack and Anjelica” to whom Paul Simon refers in Annie Hall are Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston, and to feel somehow flattered by our inclusion in this little joke on those who fail to get it.) A writer in Interiors is said to be “taking his rage out in critical pieces.” “Have you thought any more about having kids?” a wife asks her husband in Manhattan. “I’ve got to get the O’Neill book finished,” the husband answers. “I could talk about my book all night,” one character says. “Viking loved my book,” another says.

It reminds me of The Cosby Show. We see a stand-up comedian's idea of what it's like being a doctor married to a corporate lawyer. Cosby seemed to have no idea what's involved in either profession, so we see a doctor and lawyer who have no medical or legal knowledge. We're supposed to marvel at their high achievement but the only sign we see of it is that they're rich.

Look at old episodes of Maude. Even the joke of a doctor next door shows medical knowledge from time to time. Look at the attorney mother on the Beavis & Butt-head spin-off, Daria.

What was Allen thinking, making Diane Keaton a celebrity poet? It's an aging TV gag writer's idea of life as an educated sophisticate.

But I'll watch this thing on American Masters. It should be good.

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