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edited by Stig Björkman

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8021-1556-X
Publisher: Grove

 Get two filmmakers together to talk about work and the result should be interesting, especially if one of them--Woody Allen- -seldom sits for long interviews. But the operative word here is should. Bjîrkman is a Swedish filmmaker and critic who has done a similar book with Ingmar Bergman (Bergman on Bergman, 1974). He sits a filmmaker down and gets him to talk his way through his career, discussing working methods, influences, collaboration, ideas, and themes. Since Allen rarely gives interviews, this volume is by its very nature an important one for fans of his films, and he is candid about his thematic obsessions--death, the confusion between fantasy and reality, the tensions that threaten the nuclear family. His blowup with Mia Farrow occurred during the course of the interview process, and although he never discusses it directly (which is fine, given the overexposure it received in the press), Allen does talk about the importance of focusing on filmmaking during ``this time of stress''; still, he says its effect on his work was minimal. But this is not a confessional, Barbara Waltersstyle interview. It's two guys talking shop, and Allen speaks at great length about casting decisions, the mechanics of shooting, and the writing process. He can be startlingly on-target when talking about his limitations, as in his observation that too much of his dramatic dialogue sounds like it was written for subtitles, but for much of the book, he seems defensive, particularly about negative critical reactions to his films. Unfortunately, given the opportunity he is presented, Bjîrkman doesn't ask many interesting questions. He shows little knowledge of the New York milieu so essential to Allen's films, or of American culture (popular or high), and no sense of humor at all. As a result, much of the book is just dull. Strictly for those who devour the Woodman's every word.