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"Premiering as a part of the PBS American Masters series "Woody Allen: A Documentary" is an impressively scaled and professionally comprehensive project on the enigmatic filmmaker. Allen is a true Hollywood renegade--a man who has followed his passions and interests and made a career out of making the films he wanted without regard for commercial compromise. Such examples of contemporary auteurs are pretty rarified in this business of show, and Allen has become and remained an unlikely and inspirational trailblazer for over forty years. Allen, however, remains an intensely private and aloof persona, so this massive (over 3 hours) compilation of interviews and film clips is a rare treat. While the 2002 Richard Schickel special (he is also on hand as an interviewee for this piece) "Woody Allen: A Life in Film" offered a glimpse of what Allen thought of his film legacy, it lacked the sheer scope of this new documentary. "Woody Allen: A Documentary" definitively showcases the highlights of Allen's career as well as any other piece of film that I've seen. And that makes it pretty special indeed.

Director Robert Weide follows a course that is largely chronological. While Allen (and his sister) do offer some insight about his childhood and family, this really just serves as an introduction. Seeing Allen revisit his old childhood haunts is unexpectedly intimate. And while there are some other personal moments interspersed throughout including his music and the dissolution of his relationship with Mia Farrow, the topic here is focused primarily on Woody Allen, the professional. Allen, it seems, almost fell into show business and had early stints as a writer, comedian, and performer before breaking into filmmaking. His first foray into studio movies was the wildly successful "What's New Pussycat?" which, despite its popularity, convinced Allen he wanted to do his own thing. From his earlier comedies, to his breakthrough "Annie Hall," to the doldrums of the late nineties and early two thousands, to his recent resurgence--this film does an excellent job hitting all the career highlights. Appropriately, it even includes this year's "Midnight in Paris" which is his biggest money-maker of all time.

The documentary is loaded with great film clips and lots of celebrity interviews. From friends, co-workers, business partners, to a veritable who's who of Hollywood stars--there is no shortage of people willing to chime in on this American institution. Through it all, Allen comes across as incredibly spry, self deprecating, and very very funny. If you have any interest in Woody Allen films, this is absolutely unmissable. I doubt that a better, more comprehensive documentary will ever be made about his resume of works. That said, it is somewhat less than all-access when it comes to the man behind the camera. It offers more of Allen than I've seen before, but this is NOT an intimately personal look at the man. But it is an essential and incredibly entertaining piece from the aspect of film studies. Even with a running time of over three hours, "Woody Allen: A Documentary" flies by. And most importantly, it made me want to go back and revisit so many films that I haven't seen in years! KGHarris, 11/11."

Midnight in Paris (2011) HD

"A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better."

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"After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Lucy Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortune teller. Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery owner boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas), while Roy, a novelist nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Freida Pinto), a mystery woman who catches his gaze through a nearby window. Despite these characters’ attempts to dodge their problems with pipe dreams and impracticable plans, their efforts lead only to heartache, irrationality, and perilous hot water..."

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Whatever Works (2009) HD

"Attempting to impress his ideologies on religion, relationships, and the randomness (and worthlessness) of existence, lifelong New York resident Boris Yellnikoff rants to anyone who will listen, including the audience. But when he begrudgingly allows naive Mississippi runaway Melodie St. Ann Celestine to live in his apartment, his reclusive rages give way to an unlikely friendship and Boris begins to mold the impressionable young girl's worldly views to match his own. When it comes to love, "whatever works" is his motto, but his already perplexed life complicates itself further when Melodie's parents eventually track her down..."

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"Jean-Luc Godard and Woody Allen. Just by those two names you will know if this short interview-film, which has been seen by likely less than a hundred people since it was filmed almost twenty years ago, will be worth to see (and 80's era Godard and Woody no less). Basically, you get Godard's madman sensibilities as a filmmaker, playing around with the structure of a director interview, and you get Woody Allen's insights. Ironically, I think this was made for video, or at least shot on it (maybe it was shot on film, I'd have to look it up), and more than half of the interview is based around the idea (that Godard proposes and Allen agrees with when understanding) that television is a corrupter of the audience. But along with questions, and even more interesting answers, about television, there are also questions and answers about the film-making process, and how Allen feels about it. While at times Godard tries to back up to TV again, one does get of course what Allen is like- immensely underrating his films once finished, and at times finding the film-making process to be more of a distraction from the other horrors of the world. Godard does (and sometimes doesn't) succeed in adding to these words of Allen's with spliced in images from his films, other filmmakers (Orson Welles), and New York city buildings, among other swell oddities..."

"...Talk about rarities - this is as rare as you can get. This is never-broadcast footage of Woody Allen being interviewed by Granada TV in Manchester in 1971 while he was in the UK to promote 'Bananas' - and it's very funny.

The Granada TV show 'Cinema' broadcast about five minutes of the interview in 1971. What we have here is the unused rushes from the rest of the interview.

When I was working at Granada in the 1980s I came across these raw rushes of the Woody Allen interview in the archive library. You can imagine how excited I, as a Woody Allen fan, was: here were about forty minutes of vintage, 'funny-period' Allen that no one - NO ONE - had ever seen. And when I ed it I wasn't disappointed: Allen deliberately undermines the entire interview process, giving deadpan faux-depressive answers to every question, while the hapless off-screen interviewer struggles to figure out whether Allen is being serious or not. He ends up in fits of suppressed laughter.

I tried to persuade Granada to release the interview on VHS along with Allen's one-off stand-up show which he did for them in 1965, but they weren't interested. So I just kept a copy for myself. Now, I've just been unpacking some old boxes in the attic and found this tape. It's a unique piece of Alleniana, and I'm pleased to be able to share it with you..."

"Before Woody Allen set his sights on becoming the next Ingmar Bergman, he made a fleeting (but largely successful) attempt at becoming the next S.J Perelman. Side Effects, his third and final collection of humor pieces, shows his efforts. These essays appeared in The New Yorker during the late 1970s, as he showed more and more discontent with his funnyman status. Fear not, humor fans--Allen's still funny. He is less manic, however, than in his positively goofy Getting Even/Without Feathers days, and this makes Side Effects a more nuanced read. Woody picks and chooses when to flash the laughs, as in an article discussing UFOs:

[I]n 1822 Goethe himself notes a strange celestial phenomenon. "En route home from the Leipzig Anxiety Festival," he wrote, "I was crossing a meadow, when I chanced to look up and saw several fiery red balls suddenly appear in the southern sky. They descended at a great rate of speed and began chasing me. I screamed that I was a genius and consequently could not run very fast, but my words were wasted. I became enraged and shouted imprecations at them, whereupon they flew away frightened. I related this story to Beethoven, not realizing he had already gone deaf, and he smiled and nodded and said, "Right."

Though not as explosively, mind-alteringly funny as his earlier books, Side Effects is still loaded with chuckles; the much-anthologized "Kugelmass Episode" is worth the price of the book. For fans of his films--or for anyone who wants a final glimpse of Woody in his first, best role as court jester, Side Effects is a must-have..."

"After three decades of prodigious film work (and some unfortunate tabloid adventures as well), it's easy to forget that Woody Allen began his career as one heck of a great comedy writer. Getting Even, a collection of his late '60s magazine pieces, offers a look into Allen's bag of shtick, back when it was new. From the supposed memoirs of Hitler's barber: "Then, in January of 1945, a plot by several generals to shave Hitler's moustache in his sleep failed when von Stauffenberg, in the darkness of Hitler's bedroom, shaved off one of the Führer's eyebrows instead..."

Even though the idea of writing jokes about old Adolf--or addled rabbis, or Maatjes herring--isn't nearly as fresh as it used to be, Getting Even still delivers plenty of laughs. At his best, Woody can achieve a level of transcendent craziness that no other writer can match. If you're looking for a book to dip into at random, or a gift for someone who's seen Sleeper 13 times, Getting Even is a dead lock..."

A cleverly conceived collection, Soundtrack Factory's Woody Allen More Movie Music gathers more vintage big-band, swing, and hot jazz songs that appeared in Woody Allen films such as Stardust Memories and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Highlights include Edward Heyman and Robert Sour's "Body & Soul" from Stardust Memories, Alberto Dominguez's "Frenesi" from Radio Days, Louis Prima's "Sing Sing Sing" from Manhattan Murder Mystery, and the Erroll Garner Trio's "She's Funny That Way" from Deconstructing Harry. Bunny Berigan & His Orchestra's version of "Caravan" and Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" are two of the album's other standouts, along with performances by Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke, Lester Young, and Mills Blue Rhythm Band. Woody Allen More Movie Music is an appealing compilation not just for Woody Allen buffs, but for fans of '30s and '40s jazz as well.

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"...When I originally saw the fim, "Manhattan", back in 1979, I not only viewed, what would be one of Woody Allen's finest films, but I was introduced to the genius of George Gershwin.Until then I was your average kid hooked on rock n'roll.The marvelous tunes that accompanied Allen's tribute to New York City (and some of it's more neurotic inhabitants) truely moved me and made me realize there was something very special about this music.Allen used the music of George Gershwin almost as a secondary character.It gives us a sense of New York City's expanse and beauty (at least in Allen's mind).Who cannot love such beautiful tunes as "But Not For Me", "'S Wonderful", "Embraceble You" and of course the majestic masterpiece, "Rhapsody In Blue". I'll never forget the violin section of this great work of music, at the emotional conclusion of the film.It is just beautiful..."

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Compiled from Woody Allen's legendary standup routines of the mid 1960s, Standup Comic is an absolute necessity for any acolyte of the man's solid work from his Casino Royale and New Yorker phase.
"Here's a good example of oral contraception. I asked a girl to go to bed with me, and she said 'No.'"
Between a youthful stint as a TV gag man and his groundbreaking films of the 1970s, Allen tried his hand at standup. He was, predictably, a success. Taken from nightclub dates in 1964, '65, and '68, Standup Comic shows how stylistically similar he was to contemporaries like Bill Cosby but also how his absurd flights of imagination made him utterly unique.
"I took a puff of the wrong cigarette at a fraternity dance once. The cops had to come and get me. I broke two teeth trying to give a hickey to the Statue of Liberty."
Now that he's a junior-varsity Ingmar Bergman, it's easy to forget that Allen's first public face was that of a world-class zhlub--a rumpled redhead who shared stories of analysis, sexual frustration, and failure. The long-form tales featured on Standup Comic (including Allen's famous bit featuring a moose) provide plenty of laughs as well as an early glimpse at this protean comic genius.

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If you think New Orleans jazz is dated, peppy and thin, and that Woody Allen is nothing more than an eccentric celebrity filmmaker, try this CD. Not only is the music fine and intelligent, but Woody shows us a side of him that his films don't capture. There's a sadness in the best pieces that goes beyond wistfulness, a beauty in unexpected places. Woody is serious about the music, but not preachy. The band and he make a lively, compelling, and thoughtful statement about music being one of the best aspects of existence.

Woody Allen's love of classic jazz shows when the most popular songs from his movies are gathered onto one disc. From the opening track, "As Time Goes By," it becomes obvious how important Allen's music really is to his films. Although Play It Again, Sam is an obvious tribute to Casablanca, Allen's use of "As Time Goes By" is effective and quite memorable for different reasons than in the classic original. And what would the opening credits to Radio Days be without Harry James' brilliant take on "Flight of the Bumblebee"? That song sets the pace for the movie better than any other song could have and, though it is quite famous for other reasons, Allen made it his own when it was heard in the film's context. This set of music proves that Allen has the eerie ability to take a popular standard and set it so well to one of his films that the listener can pinpoint the exact scene in which the song was used. That is no easy task, especially with the caliber of the songs found here, so as a collection this is not only filled with wonderful jazz, but also serves as a good reminder of Allen's best work.

The first classical music I remember hearing was on movie soundtracks--the animated cartoons of my childhood in which the characters would chase, trick, and bash each other to the tunes of Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies and overtures by Rossini and Suppe. This music was used not because it was great, but because it was full of action and out of copyright--a lot cheaper (and probably better) than hiring a living composer. Woody Allen may have a nobler motivation in his decision to use classics on his soundtracks, and his selection of music, from Bach to Prokofiev, is more sophisticated. This superbly miscellaneous collection will be full of happy discoveries for many listeners. It may also help you to identify tunes that you hear in a movie and can't get out of your mind.

Barcelona has long been considered one of the most romantic cities in the world - a place where the human heart has been known to explore new and uncharted territory, leaving any preconceptions about passion and romance forever changed. The city's timeless mystique makes it the perfect setting for director Woody Allen's newest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, a breezy romantic comedy starring Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson. The film's eclectic mix of music reflects the storyline's passionate yet lighthearted tone. The bouncy, Spanish-sung title song, "Barcelona," was written and recorded by Giulia y los Tellarini, a little-known indie band from Barcelona. As might be expected from a collection of Spanish music, instrumental guitar pieces make up the lion's share of the soundtrack.

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Two young American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) come to Barcelona for a summer holiday. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is sensible and engaged to be married; Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is emotionally and sexually adventurous. In Barcelona, they're drawn into a series of unconventional romantic entanglements with Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a charismatic painter, who is still involved with his tempestuous ex-wife Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz). Set against the luscious Mediterranean sensuality of Barcelona, 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' is Woody Allen's funny and open-minded celebration of love in all its configurations.

Cassandra's Dream (2007) HD

Two London brothers are hard-up for cash, and both have girls to look out for, too. When rich Uncle Howard comes to town and agrees to help them out, he admits his finances are under investigation, and he asks them to do him a favor and "take care of" an old business relation to keep his trouble under wraps - he says that they're family, and since he always takes care of them, the least they could do is help him out this once, as they're the only ones he can trust. The film follows their struggle with the immorality of this request and how each brother chooses to deal with it.

In the funeral of the famous British journalist Joe Strombel, his colleagues and friends recall how obstinate he was while seeking for a scoop. Meanwhile the deceased Joe discloses the identity of the tarot card serial killer of London. He cheats the Reaper and appears to the American student of journalism Sondra Pransky, who is on the stage in the middle of a magic show of the magician Sidney Waterman in London, and tells her that the murderer is the aristocrat Peter Lyman. Sondra drags Sid in her investigation, seeking for evidences that Peter is the killer. However, she falls in love with him and questions if Joe Strombel is right in his scoop.

Scoop 2006 m-HD x264-JoN:

Tennis pro Chris Wilton takes a job as a tennis instructor and hits it off immediately with one of his students, wealthy young Tom Hewitt. Tom introduces Chris to his family and Chris falls quickly into a romance with Tom's sister Chloe. But despite the growing certainty that Chris and Chloe will marry, and the enormous professional and financial advantages that come Chris's way through his relationship with the delighted Hewitt family, Chris becomes increasingly intrigued and eventually romantically involved with Tom's fiancée, Nola Rice, a struggling American actress. Their passionate trysts leave Chris in danger of losing the wealth and position he has now come to enjoy. The only solution to the dilemma seems unthinkable...

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Over a meal in a French restaurant, Sy poses a conundrum to his fellow diners: Is the essence of life comic or tragic? For the sake of argument, he tells a story, which the others then embellish to illustrate their takes on life. The story starts as follows: A young Manhattan couple, Park Avenue princess Laurel and tippling actor Lee, throw a dinner party to impress Lee's would-be producer when their long-lost friend Melinda appears at their front door, bedraggled and woebegone. In the tragic version of what happens next, the beautiful intruder is a disturbed woman who got bored with her Midwestern doctor-husband and dumped him for a photographer. Her husband took the children away and she spiraled into a suicidal depression that landed her straight-jacketed in a mental ward. In the comic version, Melinda is childless and a downstairs neighbor to the dinner hosts, who are ambitious Indy filmmaker Susan and under-employed actor Hobie. Back and forth the stories go, contrasting the destinies of the two Melindas.

Melinda and Melinda 2004 DVD-ISO:
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In medias res: narrator Jerry Falk, a fledgling comedy writer with an inept agent, is about to celebrate an anniversary with his girlfriend Amanda. There's trouble in paradise: she's late (and has already eaten), she's been uninterested in sex for months, and her quixotic mother is moving in with them. Jerry looks back to meeting Amanda and dumping Brooke. A constant is his friendship with another wannabe comedy writer, a 60 year old teacher named David, prone to long walks and advice filled talks. As Amanda and Jerry's relationship founders and her mom's noisy presence makes writing difficult for him, he and David plan something different. Wouldn't anything else be better?

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A 90-minute documentary by film critic, author and historian Richard Schickel that is highlighted by a rare and candid interview with the writer, director and actor Woody Allen. The interview, shot exclusively for this documentary in New York in October 2001, marks the first time Allen has participated in an American documentary about his career. The program examines Allen's work on such landmark films as "Take the Money and Run" (1969), "Bananas" (1971), "Sleeper" (1973), "Love and Death" (1975), "Annie Hall" (1977), "Manhattan" (1979), "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989). The interview and film clips, including scenes from his most recent film at the time the interview was filmed, "Hollywood Ending," are used to highlight his prolific career and examine Allen's childhood and explore what drew him to writing and directing. One of the foremost American filmmakers of the 20th century, Allen shares anecdotes about his extensive body of work from the past thirty-something years to help audiences understand why these films continue to entertain the public as well as his technique of using both humor and drama to tackle personal issues and explore universal themes such as life, death, religion and sex. Unfortunately, ex-soul-mate Mia Farrow would not allow any film clips of her to be used on the program. Hell hath no fury...

Val Waxman is a film director who was once big in the 1970's and 1980's, but has now has been reduced to directing TV commercials. Finally, he gets an offer to make a big film. But, disaster strikes, when Val goes temporarily blind, due to paranoia. So, he and a few friends, try to cover up his disability, without the studio executives or the producers knowing that he is directing the film blind.

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CW Briggs is a veteran insurance investigator, with many successes. Betty Ann Fitzgerald is a new employee in the company he works for, with the task of reorganizing the office. They don't like each other - or at least that's what they think. During a night out with the rest of the office employees, they go to watch Voltan, a magician who secretly hypnotizes both of them, in order to use them for his dirty schemes. The next evening already, Briggs makes his first robbery, and when he wakes up in the morning he has no memory of it. Things get really complicated when he starts investigating the case. Will he be able to uncover... himself?

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion 2001 DVD-ISO:
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Dishwasher and small-fry criminal Ray hits on a plan with his partners in crime to re-open a local pizza place and dig through to the bank down the street. As his wife can't cook pizza but does great cookies, that's what they sell. While the no-hope tunnellers get lost underground, the cookie operation really takes off and the team find themselves rich business people. But the other local money isn't quite ready to accept them.

A comedic biopic focused on the life of fictional jazz guitarist Emmett Ray. Ray was an irresponsible, free-spending, arrogant, obnoxious, alcohol-abusing, miserable human being, who was also arguably the best guitarist in the world. We follow Ray's life: bouts of getting drunk, his bizzare hobbies of shooting rats and watching passing trains, his dreams of fame and fortune, his strange obsession with the better-known guitarist Django Reinhardt, and of course, playing his beautiful music.

Lee Simon, unsuccessful journalist and wanna-be novelist, tries to get a foot into the door with celebrities. After divorcing his wife Robin, Lee gets to meet a lot folks of the rich and / or beautiful, partly through journalism, partly because he has a script to offer. But life among those from out-of-this-world is hard, and his putative success always results in defeat. Meanwhile Robin meets a very desirable TV-producer and takes the first steps in the world of celebrities herself.

Harry Block is a well-regarded novelist whose tendency to thinly-veil his own experiences in his work, as well as his un-apologetic attitude and his proclivity for pills and whores, has left him with three ex-wives that hate him. As he is about to be honored for his writing by the college that expelled him, he faces writer's block and the impending marriage of his latest flame to a writer friend. As scenes from his stories and novels pass and interact with him, Harry faces the people whose lives he has affected - wives, lovers, his son, his sister.

Holden and Skylar are in love with each other. Skylar lives with a large and extended family on Manhattan. Her parents, Bob and Steffi have been married to each other for many years. Joe, a friend of theirs, who has a daughter, DJ, with Steffi. After yet another relationship, Joe is alone again. He flees to Venice, and meets Von, and makes her believe that he is the man of her dreams. However, their happiness is fake all the way, and she returns to her previous husband. Steffi spends her time with charity work, and manages to break up Skylars and Holdens relation when she introduces Skylar to a released jailbird, Charles Ferry.

Lenny and Amanda have an adopted son Max who turns out to be brilliant. Lenny becomes obsessed with finding Max's real parents because he believes that they too must be brilliant. When he finds that Linda Ash is Max' real mother, Lenny is disappointed. Linda is a prostitute and porn star. On top of that, she is quite possibly the dumbest person Lenny has ever met. Interwoven is a Greek chorus linking the story with the story of Oedipus.

Somewhere behind the early 1960s cold-war iron curtain, the Hollander family cause an international spying incident when Walter photographs a sunset in a sensitive region. In order to stay out of jail, the Hollanders take refuge in the American Embassy, which is temporarily being run by the absent Ambassador's diplomatically incompetent son, Axel.