Retro-in-specting Woody Allen

The inaugural whistlecrow outing concerns itself with ruminations on a theme, Woody Allen: the man, the myth and the movies.  Allen is nestled in the indie cinema-goer’s heart by virtue of a signature touch most successfully executed in Manhattan, Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters. In honour of his new release this March (You Will Meet A Dark Stranger), I’ll be casting an eye over a career that has exceeded fifty years to see what can be gleaned from the overlooked as well as the obsessed over.  How does the fledgeling Woody Allen stand up to his later pieces? And what of the merits of his more recent releases? The one time voice of a generation, Allen managed to explain the absurdities of sexual relationships with a touch that was at once droll and delicate.  The hostile reception for later films has seen Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian make the case for treating each Allen film in isolation on its individual merits, with every attempt to disassociate it from the weight of expectation that is generated by brand Woody.   A worthy suggestion, and yet, I suspect, a hopeless one.  My trek through the dusty Allen archives will hopefully demonstrate the rewards for the viewer who considers the corpus as a whole. Of course, what will actually  be unearthed is anyone’s guess.

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