cover image Woody Allen: A Life in Film

Woody Allen: A Life in Film

Richard Schickel. Ivan R. Dee Publisher, $22.5 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-56663-528-8

Part overview of the director's cinematic career, part interview with Allen himself, this handy book couldn't have been written by someone with more impeccable credentials. As Time's longtime film critic, Schickel is one of the deans of the milieu. He approaches his subject with an obvious admiration (Schickel immersed himself in studying every one of Allen's films for a month each), but manages not to engage in too much idol worship. The sit-down interview with the reclusive director is the most revealing section, filled with fresh glimpses into his films. There, readers learn that Annie Hall was originally called Anhedonia, until studio execs begged Allen to rename it; and that Allen sees very few of his films as artistic successes. The book's structure is quite rambling--dwelling on one film, going on to another and returning again to the first--which can be disconcerting at times. But real conversations are like that, and the book's lack of order doesn't prevent it from being a rare window into one of the great minds of modern cinema.