Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book of the Month for September

I love books. They're fun, educational, and they can provide an invaluable upper body workout.

As you may or may not know, I'm a gigantic fan of Woody Allen. And not just the movies, but pretty much everything. His stand-up albums are ingenious as is his humor writing, which has been published frequently in "The New Yorker" for decades.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I had a few spare moments available to read for pleasure. I grabbed a copy of Eric Lax's "Woody Allen: A Biography" and gobbled it up in several sittings. Lax had unprecedented access to Allen, talking to him during the filmmaking process and afterwards. (Lax took four years to finish the book, but had also covered Woody as a journalist since the 1970s. It's important to note that the version I read doesn't include the Son-Yi/Woody/Mia debacle.)

Lax also talked to family members, business associates, actors, and crew members, so he paints a rich portrait of Woody as an artist. It's fascinating to read about how he learned joke writing from Danny Simon (Neil's brother) and how he honed his stand-up routine to a high polish. I knew nothing about that background.

Some other things I learned...

1.) The man loves reshoots and rewriting. He tinkers incessantly.
2.) Sean Young was originally in "Crimes and Misdemeanors"? Sean friggin' Young!?
3.) Woody and Mia Farrow lived in separate townhouses, and it's fairly obivous reading the book that work is higher on the importance scale than kids.
4.) Annie Hall orginally featured a basketball scene with the Knicks.
5.) The original script for "Crimes and Misdemeanors" contained this now-unfortunate line: "The future of the world is in little girls."

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Woody, it's a wonderful look into his creative life and his methods.

Read in peace.

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