Woody Allen: A Documentary

(USA, 2012, 113 mins, DCP)
FEATURING Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Letty Aaronson, Marshall Brickman, Naomi Watts, Larry David, Gordon Willis, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Dianne Wiest


Woody Allen once boxed a kangaroo on TV. And he still uses the exact same Olympus typewriter on which he’s written all his scripts since he started churning out gags at the age of 16. (He uses a stapler to cut and paste.) Who knew?

Director Robert B Weide made How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Curb Your Enthusiasm and (perhaps most relevant for Allen, a documentary about his early inspiration, US stand up Mort Sahl). He’s an unabashed fan, but then who isn’t? At any rate myriad friends and collaborators turn up to sing his praises. They include Woody’s younger sister and regular producer Letty Aronson, Diane Keaton, his second wife Louise Lesser, producers and agents Charles Joffe, Jack Rollins and Robert Greenhut, DP Gordon Willis, cowriter Marshall Brickman, casting director Juliet Taylor, stars Larry David, Dianne Wiest, Tony Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Penn, Mira Sorvino, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Owen Wilson…

So, everything you wanted to know about Woody? Well, close to it, anyway. Not surprisingly, Mia Farrow is a no-show, and as much as possible Weide respects his subject’s privacy on that score. He’s a rare biographer who’s more interested in the work than the life – and you won’t find out much about the “real” Woody here, at least not about Woody the adult, there’s plenty of interesting material about his childhood and his early years as a teenage gag-factory. Allen himself is more amiable and relaxed than we might expect – his sister says this seems to be the happiest time in his life. And given that his father died at the age of 100, and his mum at 96, we could easily be in for another 20+ Woody Allen movies before he’s done.

"Not a film to be missed." Philip French, The Observer