The Ultimate Woody Allen Film Companion by Jason Bailey
Voyageur Press, 2014; 192 pp
Reviewed by Charlie Riccardelli
Jason Bailey’s The Ultimate Woody Allen Film Companion is a terrific primer for those film fans newly initiated to the movies of Woody Allen. Growing up, I had little exposure to Allen’s filmography, mostly because my father only showed me the “early, funny ones.” By the time I entered college, I began to explore more than 40 years of the writer/director/star’s career, and I found myself rudderless as I searched for greater analysis. When speaking about his work, Allen is humble—even downright dismissive at times. He also allows no DVD special features that might provide history or critical insight. Rather than leave young cinephiles to their own devices, Bailey provides a compendium to all things Allen, with glimpses into the production history, critical reception, and explorations into each movie. Among the entries, several contributing writers offer reflections into the man behind the movies, discussing his Judaism, philosophical insights, musical background, and the European phase that has dominated the last decade of Allen’s career.
Of course, no ultimate companion can be complete as long as Allen keeps living. The book production window didn’t allow an entry on last summer’s Magic in the Moonlight, and Allen has his next film ready to release this summer while another movie he has cast will begin production soon. Approaching his 80th birthday this December, Allen doesn’t appear to be winding down. Thankfully Bailey continues the book via a link featured in the introduction.