Apropos of Nothing
The long-awaited, enormously entertaining memoir by one of the great artists of our time.   In this candid and often hilarious memoir, the celebrated director, comedian, writer, and actor offers a comprehensive, personal look at his tumultuous life. Beginning with his Brooklyn childhood and his stint as a writer for the Sid Caesar variety show in the early days of television, working alongside comedy greats, Allen tells of his difficult early days doing standup before he achieved recognition and success. With his unique storytelling pizzazz, he recounts his departure into moviemaking, with such slapstick comedies as Take the Money and Run, and revisits his entire, sixty-year-long, and enormously productive career as a writer and director, from his classics Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Annie and Her Sisters to his most recent films, including Midnight in Paris. Along the way, he discusses his marriages, his romances and famous friendships, his jazz playing, and his books and plays. We learn about his demons, his mistakes, his successes, and those he loved, worked with, and learned from in equal measure.   This is a hugely entertaining, deeply honest, rich and brilliant self-portrait of a celebrated artist who is ranked among the greatest filmmakers of our time. 

Apropos of Nothing Details

TitleApropos of Nothing
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 23rd, 2020
PublisherArcade
ISBN-139781951627348
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Memoir, Culture, Film

Apropos of Nothing Review

  • Jeff
    January 1, 1970
    Eat a dick, Ronan!UPDATE: Finished reading it and it's great. If you're a Woody Allen fan (and you're aware that Mia Farrow is most likely a crazy person who unfortunately abused Dylan for her own gains) you will love this. His writing is hilarious, and there's like a laugh on every page. At his age, Woody of course has way more than his 10,000 hours necessary to be considered a great. And it really shows: he's such a great, masterful writer. He could easily have been a novelist if he wanted to. Eat a dick, Ronan!UPDATE: Finished reading it and it's great. If you're a Woody Allen fan (and you're aware that Mia Farrow is most likely a crazy person who unfortunately abused Dylan for her own gains) you will love this. His writing is hilarious, and there's like a laugh on every page. At his age, Woody of course has way more than his 10,000 hours necessary to be considered a great. And it really shows: he's such a great, masterful writer. He could easily have been a novelist if he wanted to. I never got bored of reading this ONCE. I can only hope I have his energy when I get older.There are both stories we've heard already/things covered in the Weide documentary (for example: the fact that he's really hard on himself artistically and dislikes some of his best works, his compartmentalization when it comes to not reading critics & focusing on the work itself, his relationships, etc), as well as Woody getting reflective in ways we've never heard before.This book is a real treat for Woody fans. Enjoy!
    more
  • Matthew Wilder
    January 1, 1970
    Young Allen Konigsberg did not grow up under a clattering rollercoaster. Though his dad descended on hard-ish times, Dad was the son of a posh haut-bourgeois Ashkenazi Jew, a cigar smoker who took cruises to London to hear the operaone pictures a guy who looks like Max Ophuls when one hears of Grandpa Woody. Is it this somewhat spoiled and spoiling upbringing that gave Konigsberg the confidence, the hard-skating confidence that powers through the first half of this book, that got him to the Young Allen Konigsberg did not grow up under a clattering rollercoaster. Though his dad descended on hard-ish times, Dad was the son of a posh haut-bourgeois Ashkenazi Jew, a cigar smoker who took cruises to London to hear the opera—one pictures a guy who looks like Max Ophuls when one hears of Grandpa Woody. Is it this somewhat spoiled and spoiling upbringing that gave Konigsberg the confidence, the hard-skating confidence that powers through the first half of this book, that got him to the point where he was sitting in a London casino with Team Casino Royale—Woody, Peter O’Toole, and David Niven, say—against Team Dirty Dozen, including Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson and John Cassavetes, in a nightly game of poker with $30,000 stakes?Child Allen sees white telephone pictures—it is really Cukor’s HOLIDAY and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY Woody is referring to here. Martini shakers and blonde heads thrown back gaily in laughter and “What do you MEAN we’re not ‘legally’ married?”—the whole shimmering white silk screwballery of it all. This, says little Konigsberg, is what I want. And boy does he get it—did ever a show biz memoir describe such a cascade of unrelenting success? Woody had a magic touch that allowed and allows him to go on making whatever films he wants at any price, that made nightclub owners fall all over each other to hire him to do stand-up even when “they had to bring more potted plants in to make the room look full.” He know how to be wanted; and when one reads APROPOS against something like STAR, Peter Biskind’s account of the life and work of Warren Beatty...man, did Woody clock it better! Zeitgeisty stuff like SLEEPER and ANNIE HALL when the 70s demanded it; Neil Simonish fate like BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY when Woody’s Soon-Yi scandal monopolized headlines and his reputation needed a scrub. (I am way in the minority in this; I find Woody’s 90s crowd pleasers deplorable. Give me HUSBANDS AND WIVES and DECONSTRUCTING HARRY any day.) In the 00s, needing a reboot, Woody discovered London, Barcelona, Paris, and made Lubitschian travelogues that soothed the bourgeois post-9-11 audience. His genius was to be smart but not overly brainy; to cut his O’Neill and Williams and Bergman aspirations with old-fashioned George S. Kaufman knowhow.The first half of this memoir is pure delight, a quipster version of a Philip Roth bildungsroman, heavy on the sugar and one liners. Then, at the halfway point, Mia enters and—well, it’s as sad a falling-off as the post-intermission section of BARRY LYNDON. On the come from the get-go, Mia appeals to the self-destructive impulse in Woody. After decades of sex, how better to fuck up? He details a plainly incestuous relationship between Mia and Ronan, who also seems plainly to be Frank Sinatra’s kid—and notes that when Woody had finished playing sperm donor, Mia was done with him, wishing to move onward and upward to her neighbor, Mike Nichols—!!! PS—can one imagine, really, an early eighties Mia whose BFF was Stephen Sondheim?If anyone believes Woody “did it,” will this book change their mind? I don’t know. I think most of the people clamoring for Woody’s head know full well that he didn’t do it...but he “fucked his stepdaughter” and “that’s bad enough.” Woody can vacillate about whether he was a father and whether Soon-Yi was a proper stepdaughter...Any simpleton can see that he was there for the frisson of an incest-y connection, not because Soon-Yi is a heck of a spunky girl and a real go getter and funny and a great cook and...oh, spare me. Do they now have a great marriage? Well, Soon-Yi has done admirably at playing the great man’s wife and no doubt relishing topping that mantle away from her abusive mother Mia. (Oh, and how come the media has made so little of Mia allowing one daughter to die alone of AIDS in a hospital bed, and of another disabled adoptee blowing his own head off with a shotgun? Do those stories not make Woody’s and his son Moses’ tales of Mia’s abusive brainwashing a lot more credible?)But Woody wants to burnish his legacy. And admitting some ambiguity in the zone of his intentions re: teen Soon-Yi is not gonna make that happen, not while we are me-tooing and time’s-upping. The last half is almost unbearably painful: we can read between the lines. Woody wanted to self-destruct with a crazy woman—we see him do it earlier in Technicolor splendor with Louise Lasser (who apparently, in the Kennedy era, was a real dish). But shit, he didn’t want to end the world! The Woody/Ronan war is now possibly the largest Oedipal struggle the planet has ever known. Will our culture survive it? Will our culture survive? In the meantime, read APROPOS OF NOTHING, product of a once in a century talent and, more often than not, a transporter, like that jalopy that captured Owen Wilson, into another, better world—a MOVABLE FEAST for Generation Corona.
    more
  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    I read a lot. Ive not read anything so entertaining thats had me laughing to tears like this for ages. Likely since childhood. I keep stopping to read passages aloud to my family who also react with laughter. Its not just Woody Allens prose, which is masterful, its his honesty and his ability to describe anything, even a Minotaur-like lady handing a boy a pickle, with wit and descriptions that put you right there as if youre experiencing it all yourself. As an added benefit Im from New York City I read a lot. I’ve not read anything so entertaining that’s had me laughing to tears like this for ages. Likely since childhood. I keep stopping to read passages aloud to my family who also react with laughter. It’s not just Woody Allen’s prose, which is masterful, it’s his honesty and his ability to describe anything, even a Minotaur-like lady handing a boy a pickle, with wit and descriptions that put you right there as if you’re experiencing it all yourself. As an added benefit I’m from New York City and grew up experiencing that dirty landscape in the 70s through the 90s so much of this is from my home planet. If you’re a Woody fan don’t even hesitate. If you’re on the fence you have nothing to lose. If you are not a fan of his there’s little hope for you anyway. Go read something else.
    more
  • Brynawel
    January 1, 1970
    The self-pitying hackwork of a guy who has less self-awareness than a dog licking his privates in public.
  • ALLEN
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this long-awaited book a lot, but I did not love it. On the plus side, we hear about most of Woody Allen's highly accomplished life and most of the many people he has worked with along the way, including Diane Keaton, Susan Morse, Dick Cavett, Mariel Hemingway, Sam Waterston, Tony Roberts, Carla Bruni (Mme. Nicolas Sarkozy), Cate Blanchette, Sean Penn and so many others -- all in Allen's signature prose style and with his signature humor. On the other hand, there are some key omissions I liked this long-awaited book a lot, but I did not love it. On the plus side, we hear about most of Woody Allen's highly accomplished life and most of the many people he has worked with along the way, including Diane Keaton, Susan Morse, Dick Cavett, Mariel Hemingway, Sam Waterston, Tony Roberts, Carla Bruni (Mme. Nicolas Sarkozy), Cate Blanchette, Sean Penn and so many others -- all in Allen's signature prose style and with his signature humor. On the other hand, there are some key omissions in what is styled an "autobiography," such as the 1986 movie Radio Days, which rates only one oblique mention (the mother's overcoat dyed with a chemistry set). This is probably Allen's most autobiographical movie, one of the most expensive to produce, and chock-full of swing-era music, yet while Hannah and Her Sisters is so fully discussed, Radio Days might almost not have been made. For that reason, there's no mention of the latter film's wonderful cast, which included Mercedes Ruehl, Kenneth Mars, Michael Tucker, Julie Kavner and a young Seth Green (Dianne Wiest is only mentioned indirectly). For that matter, why no mention of the late Jerry Ohrbach's excellent work in Crimes and Misdemeanors?Who doesn't get omitted? Mia Farrow. Good Lord, Mia Farrow. I mean, the amount of space he gives Farrow over the whole custody issue is so excessive, and I say that as someone firmly on Allen's side. He discusses Farrow about halfway through this book -- digs the subject up later -- and then a third time. Each time I found myself wanting to read more about his films instead.
    more
  • Katherine Perros
    January 1, 1970
    Just finished and loved it! Highly recommend - had me laughing aloud. He's very hard on himself and his work but what would life be like without his wonderful films! Where did all the funny go in these crazy times? Cancel culture cannot cancel this man's brilliance. Can't believe he's 84.
    more
  • Curtis Chastain
    January 1, 1970
    Funny and a quick read during quarantine.
  • Christina Dalcher
    January 1, 1970
    Having been a fan of Woody Allen's movies for the better part of 35 years, I'm eager to get my hands on this.Happy news:This book will be published TODAY (23 March 2020) by Arcade Publishing.From Publishers Lunch:Arcade tells PL they printed 75,000 copies. The hardcover [978-1-951627348] is $30, and the ebook is $13.99 [978-1-951627379]; the publisher says the metadata just fed out Monday morning so should update online later in the day. Since the original international licenses made by HBG were Having been a fan of Woody Allen's movies for the better part of 35 years, I'm eager to get my hands on this.Happy news:This book will be published TODAY (23 March 2020) by Arcade Publishing.From Publishers Lunch:Arcade tells PL they printed 75,000 copies. The hardcover [978-1-951627348] is $30, and the ebook is $13.99 [978-1-951627379]; the publisher says the metadata just fed out Monday morning so should update online later in the day. Since the original international licenses made by HBG were all reverted, Arcade is in "ongoing discussions" with translation publishers about new contracts.
    more
  • david
    January 1, 1970
    A global plague with no end in sight.What to do? What to do? A new book by the eighty-four-year-old comic, actor, director, clarinetist, writer?Yeah, thats the ticket.Woody, I imagine that you do not occasion this site, but if you should, I want to whisper something to you. What? Your hearing is all fimished because you are an old-timer? Come closer. Oh wait, not allowed. If you are six feet away from me, I will have to scream. But this is something personal and shouting is not becoming.Heck A global plague with no end in sight.What to do? What to do? A new book by the eighty-four-year-old comic, actor, director, clarinetist, writer?Yeah, that’s the ticket.Woody, I imagine that you do not occasion this site, but if you should, I want to whisper something to you. What? Your hearing is all fimished because you are an old-timer? Come closer. Oh wait, not allowed. If you are six feet away from me, I will have to scream. But this is something personal and shouting is not becoming.Heck with it. I love you, Woody. I do.This alte-kaker wrote the best memoir this reader has read. “Evah,” as they pronounce it where you live.Stunning.Honest, risible, serious, troublesome, philosophical, literary. Courageous.We both know that many, most people will inaccurately judge you by third party reports. Horribly unfair to the individual although very human. We both understand the meaning of the word 'schadenfreude.' I am on your side and everything you wrote rings true.Achingly authentic. So much so that I think even the kindle edition could earn the ‘kosher’ imprimatur. Who knows? Virtual Pesach is just around the corner. (honey, can you pass the taglach thru the laptop?)(I was just thinking about that book with Henk, the fabricated protagonist in the nursing home from the Netherlands. The writer made his character the same age as you.)I loved Annie Hall. I loved Hannah and Her Sisters. Husbands and Wives. Midnight in Paris. Café Society. I enjoyed most of your movies. And this book is so good I do not think I have the words to express it during this current weltshmerz we are all experiencing.Thank you for sharing your story as only a reflective, sensible, astute octogenarian occasionally does.And very funny.America, home of the free and liberated? Nah. No one will release your latest movie here even though it is popular now in Spain, France. I understand and disagree. Europe still needs and adores you.https://forward.com/culture/444212/sh...Ten stars.
    more
  • Jonathan Landau
    January 1, 1970
    Engrossing: A sly, intelligent and, I believe, honestly observed account of Mr. Allen's life and his amazing creations--his films. He inevitably spends time on his personal controversy and writes about it with understated directness.
  • Troy Tradup
    January 1, 1970
    Starts very solid, gets derailed by the story that becomes the default center of the author's life, still manages to be a pretty good read. Ultimately not the book I wanted -- I really just wanted to hear about the movies -- but an interesting, ricocheting account of Woody's world. "A world," he writes, "I will never feel comfortable in, never understand, and never approve of or forgive."The first half of the book is the best, with Woody describing his childhood and his rise through comedy Starts very solid, gets derailed by the story that becomes the default center of the author's life, still manages to be a pretty good read. Ultimately not the book I wanted -- I really just wanted to hear about the movies -- but an interesting, ricocheting account of Woody's world. "A world," he writes, "I will never feel comfortable in, never understand, and never approve of or forgive."The first half of the book is the best, with Woody describing his childhood and his rise through comedy writing and eventually standup. He's a bit harsh in places, but generally manages to carry it off with a side helping of warmth and generosity I didn't expect. He's also quite self-deprecating -- too much so, you begin to realize after a bit. Even when it seems somewhat slapdash, it's a very controlled narrative.There are moments throughout that just exploded for me. Woody's description of an uncle, for instance, who "drifted around the Flatbush streets peddling newspapers till he dissolved like a pale wafer. White, whiter, gone." Or: "It seemed like I was surrounded by great and wonderful people unstable as uranium."He's also great at setting up his own punchline: "I was convinced that as long as I lived ... I would never again in my lifetime be on the front page of any newspapers. I got that one wrong."And then he talks about Mia and Dylan and the allegations. For a long, long stretch. He makes his case, he lays out the findings of the two investigations, and in the end it's basically as interesting as listening to anyone bitch about a bad relationship.The second half of the book, when not consumed with Mia, is a little too glib and a little too rushed; there are a few too many one-liners. Woody seems genuinely uninterested in his movies once they're finished, although he seems to love the process and the actors and the crews and the locations. He seems to genuinely love Soon-Yi and their daughters and his home life and his work, which he says "keeps me from facing the world, one of my least favorite venues."Near the end, he includes a statement that made me rethink a lot of what had come before: "People believe what is important for them to believe, and each person has his or her own reason, sometimes not even known to them." Is Woody being straight here (the line comes with a specific context) or is his mind laying out an alternate story thread not fully grasped even by its author?Ultimately, too much to think about; I really just wanted to hear about the movies, man.
    more
  • Stephen Theaker
    January 1, 1970
    Hilarious and heartbreaking, often on the same page. He's such a funny writer, and any given chunk of this would have made a brilliant stand-up routine. More dates would have been nice, given the way it jumps about in time like Tristram Shandy, but aside from that I loved it. I was worried that the book might run out of space before he reached his later works, but there's lots of good stuff about my favourites like Match Point, Magic in the Moonlight and Bullets Over Broadway. I was surprised he Hilarious and heartbreaking, often on the same page. He's such a funny writer, and any given chunk of this would have made a brilliant stand-up routine. More dates would have been nice, given the way it jumps about in time like Tristram Shandy, but aside from that I loved it. I was worried that the book might run out of space before he reached his later works, but there's lots of good stuff about my favourites like Match Point, Magic in the Moonlight and Bullets Over Broadway. I was surprised he didn't mention how Mia Farrow went to the mafia for advice regarding their custody battle, but maybe he never read that Vanity Fair interview. He does mention, as he has before, that she was still ready to work on Manhattan Murder Mystery with him despite her allegations, and he gives a mind-blowing example of her lying to investigators. Seems like an archetypal case of parental alienation.
    more
  • James Lang
    January 1, 1970
    Three parts here: Why I Read this Book, What It's Like, and Whether He's Guilty1. In my teen years, as I became interested in artistic and intellectual matters, I discovered and became obsessed with Woody Allen movies along with my brother (now also an academic and writer). I learned from Woody Allen that you can be a serious intellectual, admire great art and want to make it, and still laugh at someone getting hit in the crotch with a football. I like to search for and find humor anywhere and Three parts here: Why I Read this Book, What It's Like, and Whether He's Guilty1. In my teen years, as I became interested in artistic and intellectual matters, I discovered and became obsessed with Woody Allen movies along with my brother (now also an academic and writer). I learned from Woody Allen that you can be a serious intellectual, admire great art and want to make it, and still laugh at someone getting hit in the crotch with a football. I like to search for and find humor anywhere and everywhere I can, especially in the places that other people take too seriously, and I think I learned that from Allen. I love his early comedies for their silly humor, think Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors are genuine masterpieces, and find a lighthearted appeal in some of the later movies. I still find his stand-up and comedy books hilarious. For all of these reasons I wanted to read this book, by an artist whose work I have always admired.2. With that background in mind, the book is kind of a disappointment. Allen claims he's no intellectual, knows little about film making, got along with luck and an ability to write great jokes. He never gives any movie more than a couple of pages of history or analysis, and says little of substance about film or literature or art or anything. The book does give you plenty of glimpses into his life, and lots of famous people, but they are glimpses. The parts of himself he does reveal are not all that appealing. He turns out to be a much more shallow person than you would expect from his movies; there is a lot of name-dropping and casually mentioning things like the 20,000 square foot house he bought in Manhattan or the fact that he only flies on private planes now. The more I read about him, the less I liked him. He is still very funny, and I laughed out loud many times at the jokes. I read the book quickly and looked forward to the good parts, but there just weren't as many as I hoped.3. Woody Allen is guilty of being a creepy and sex-obsessed guy who started an affair with his one-time girlfriend's eighteen-year-old daughter. The fact that they have now been married twenty-plus years, and have two college-aged children, doesn't mitigate that in my eyes. He also barely mentions an actress in here without saying something about their physical attractiveness. These things are gross and unethical and he deserves every criticism he gets on these scores. But hearing his full side of the story on the molestation charges against Dylan Farrow, including quotes from the police investigation, has left me seriously doubtful about that specific accusation against him. It's possible that molestation happened, but it now seems very unlikely to me. If he has been falsely accused, he certainly has earned the right to complain. Even given that, he spends a good hundred pages on those complaints, telling his side of the story, and the angry and vindictive tone of those pages--however understandable it might be--make them tough reading. I would encourage anyone who has leaped to condemn Woody Allen (or anyone who works with him or reads his memoir) to make sure you read the full story of what a six-month police investigation into the charges found, in addition to reading what Dylan and Ronan Farrow have had to say. Then judge for yourself--but don't judge only on what you've heard from one side, whichever side it might be.So, in short, if you are (or were) a devoted Woody Allen fan, you will find things to enjoy in this book, and you will hear his side of the story. If you are not a fan, move right along; the book does not stand very well as a piece of writing or as an autobiography.
    more
  • Sean
    January 1, 1970
    I might never have gotten around to reading this if not for a bunch of self-righteous yahoos making a stink out of cancelling its publication. Don't want me to read this? Got it. Consider it read.And hey! It's kinda great. Woody Allen is Woody Allen throughout--he doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks about him or his movies, and he's by far his own worst critic. He likes maybe five of his movies, and laments never having made a great one. Plus the one-liners never stop, if you like that sort I might never have gotten around to reading this if not for a bunch of self-righteous yahoos making a stink out of cancelling its publication. Don't want me to read this? Got it. Consider it read.And hey! It's kinda great. Woody Allen is Woody Allen throughout--he doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks about him or his movies, and he's by far his own worst critic. He likes maybe five of his movies, and laments never having made a great one. Plus the one-liners never stop, if you like that sort of thing. He manages to say something about all 900 of his movies, often very little, but to him it's the making of the movie that interests him. Nothing else. Once done, he doesn't watch any of them ever again. He doesn't do test screenings because, as he puts it, he's not interested in collaborating with an audience on his films. In terms of film-making, his method is remarkably pure. He's made a lot of so-so to not so good movies, but he's too hard on himself--his great movies are great.He also devotes a lot of space to The Allegation, disproven years ago after multiple investigations, but brought back to life by the Farrows in the MeToo era. Knowing anything about the details of the case renders it impossible to assume Allen is guilty. Quite the opposite, I've long found. His recounting here makes it seem that much more appalling--in terms of what the Farrows have done and continue to do.His marriage to Soon-Yi he decribes at length, and they couldn't sound happier. Of course the way Woody describes all the women he's been involved with and lusted after during his life is not how anyone image-conscious would describe them, hence his being called "tone-deaf" and "un-self aware" in the reviews by people who believe he's evil. But he's just Woody Allen. He's a weird guy, as he's the first to admit, and often, in this book. Does that make him evil? Or just weird? Well, people like throwing stones at weirdos with glasses, ever thus.
    more
  • Howard Eisman
    January 1, 1970
    I was a fan of Woody Allen before his first movie. I liked his previous books. However, from what I read about his latest, Apropos of Nothing, he comes across as an addled fool Why does he go into details his sex life with previous partners? Will anyone even believe him? In any case, I grew up at the same time and in the same neighborhoods as Woody. My cohort was hardly victorian gentlemen, but we didn't kiss and tell and we knew better, even as adolescents, than go bragging about the I was a fan of Woody Allen before his first movie. I liked his previous books. However, from what I read about his latest, Apropos of Nothing, he comes across as an addled fool Why does he go into details his sex life with previous partners? Will anyone even believe him? In any case, I grew up at the same time and in the same neighborhoods as Woody. My cohort was hardly victorian gentlemen, but we didn't kiss and tell and we knew better, even as adolescents, than go bragging about the multitudinous number of young women who threw themselves at us with unrestrained sexual abandon. No one would believe us. Anyone babbling in this way would be shunned. As for the sexual abuse claims against him. , I examined all the paperwork I could get my hands on about 25 years ago. In my profession, I did forensic work with sexual abuse cases and claims as well as clinical therapeutic work so I was familiar with the standards of such investigations. The major investigation submitted a condensed summary of their conclusions to the court. When asked for the rest of their material (notes physical evidence, ect,) the investigators said that they had destroyed them. THIS IS UNHEARD OF, and naturally highly suspect.There is plenty of other stuff reviewers have reported which indicate that he is hardly being truthful to us or even aware of how transparent his ploys are. He is either socially dense or just figures he has enough fans left so that he can pick up a few bucks in book sales..No, I won't read it.
    more
  • James Banks
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant.witty.insightful. If you are a fan , you will enjoy and sympathize. If you are not, move on with your life. I am and always will be a fan. Thank you Woody for your body of work.
  • Chrissie
    January 1, 1970
    Woody Allen...One of the great filmmakers and comedy writers of the last 50 years finally sets the record straight on himself, his career, his films, his love of sports and music, and the many misconceptions about him and his life. And the book is completely his voice, being that Woody is an accomplished writer, no ghost-writer BS in this, no fancy PR stunts. And Arcade did the right thing publishing it. Hachette, a formerly reputable publisher, who refused to publish this book when they had Woody Allen...One of the great filmmakers and comedy writers of the last 50 years finally sets the record straight on himself, his career, his films, his love of sports and music, and the many misconceptions about him and his life. And the book is completely his voice, being that Woody is an accomplished writer, no ghost-writer BS in this, no fancy PR stunts. And Arcade did the right thing publishing it. Hachette, a formerly reputable publisher, who refused to publish this book when they had already committed to and buckled to a local lynch mob, instead still has one of their notable autobiographies, a little book written in 1925 called "Mein Kampf" by... yeah, exactly. Woody doesn't like his own films too much, kind of his usual self-deprecation, but the facts of his life are told as objectively as one might be able to, when having to depict and do justice to one's own life - and by "do justice" Woody has certainly had his share of pitchforks and torches, mostly in the not-known-for-its-intelligence USA. His movies speak for themselves, honest, direct, plumbing our collective psychology, and laying bare how troubled and desperate human history is. Anyone who knows his films and has absorbed some of that humanity knows why all of the best actors always wanted to be in his films. Woody has not only written some of the better small-budget films since he started his one-a-year schedule, but he has consistently had among the best roles for women, in an industry not great for women, by and large. He also paid women the same as the male actors. And Woody has also had a proportionate and healthy number of women on his crews and his post-production team, for the majority of his career. What is it that has made Woody a controversial figure? Besides the breakup with Mia and that whole slew of false accusations, the generation of know-nothing, Internet-fattened, wisdom-starved Millennials, always looking for their lynching-of-the-week or boycott-of-the-week, often without reading past the headline of most articles, since Millennials have grown up used to "free" content (their parents paid for the wi-fi; newspapers drifted and died) and really not paying for much of their media, news, and entertainment, this generation is notable for not having not dug too deep into anything other than the usual raging territory of things that happened before they were born and re-litigating history as they see fit, their usual, as is pointed out, "guilty by accusation" tactics. The fact that Ronan Farrow's uncle John, Mia's closest brother, was put in jail around 2014 for about 11 counts of pedophilia is bizarrely left out of Ronan's articles on predators ... and that Ronan's uncle John has also been scrubbed from Ronan's Wikipedia page... kind of like perjury by omission. If that doesn't smack of curating and censorship in ways that are typically hypocritical of this Millennial tendency to block, delete, and "book-burn", then nothing does. Why Millennials often don't let new information in is a good question. It seems a lot like this age of information tribalism, an age I and others have seen taking shape and for those of us in the last generation before this fragmented reality came to existence via Internet culture, the promise of information freedom has turned into even more lies, factionalism, alternate realities foisted by con-men, and a new kind of fascism often conducted by people too socially autistic or on the spectrum from spending their formative years online to realize they know nothing of Marshall McLuhan or the message of their medium. Woody and a lot of us are mostly staring aghast at the damage, sort of like watching a wildfire burning through a place we used to kind of like. While the MeToo movement was important, what Millennials and many who jumped on board to expiate their own sins have failed to realize or speak much of is that feminism and equal rights and a level playing field all started long ago, not around the time Facebook came out. Most of the progress that has been made was because of artists like Woody Allen and Robert Altman employing great female actors and also because of men and women beginning to do the right thing and the social evolution of the human race. And Woody Allen has always been interested in the motivations and development of these more important things in the world, as anyone who has a knowledge of his work knows. The shallowness of throwing Woody or anyone not guilty under the bus comes from the lack of due process inherent in a mob mentality and in the laziness that has developed in many people, a trait particularly prominent in Millennials and others not wanting to take the time to develop real wisdom and lasting experiences - and that's a laziness that is precipitating major cracks in civilization. All this is relevant to Woody's book because Woody should be enjoying his golden years now, but instead is having to continue to defend himself against the tides of this kind of hard-headed mob. The kind of inadvertent and ignorant nihilism that the mob has engaged in, in the attempt to speed history along, is as bad as destroying relics or ancient temples, mainly because the impatience and the arrogance of this generation is only causing self-inflicted wounds on some of these fragile souls. In an ironic development, Woody was also the champion for the fragile souls, in our culture's previous incarnation, and his films showcasing sensitivity and honesty were why Woody Allen became so beloved in the first place. Woody, through his writing and his films, was the voice of the meek and the not-cool, Woody taught us that you didn't have to be cool, tough, or popular to have a niche somewhere, and saved a lot of souls from much worse lives by doing what he did, making these great films, year after year, and decade after decade, passionately, with integrity, and having one of the most enviable track records of treating people well in an industry that, like most of them, doesn't treat people well. Hollywood is one of the great historical cattle call zones. Woody was always against that kind of bullshit and debasement of humanity. But if you or anyone else needs to be convinced of these things, you probably were reading Woody's book for the wrong reasons. One of the problems with our culture is that too many people are happy with their false sense of certainty. Someone who loves Woody's films, writing, and life will likely agree with me enthusiastically and without reservation. And the other Ronanite plugged into their smartphone screen over there in the corner of the room, a touch of a fearful Philistine in their eyes, will feel that Woody is still Rosemary's baby and that nothing in the book will change that view, not that Mia's brother John Farrow is in jail for pedophilia, not that Woody's track record in the film industry is sparkling and without parallel, and not that Hollywood's most trustworthy voices have spoken in favor of Woody. Telling someone the truth is not what it used to be. People believe their own fantasies, wholesale. Woody Allen's films were always about breaking through a lot of the myths and fantasies of the human condition and how we lie to ourselves - and now we're in a generation where digital culture lies to itself at a breakneck speed by the second. Woody breaking the fourth wall in Annie Hall in 1977 was liberating - and there was Marshall McLuhan to clear the air, demystify, and spot the bullshitter. Instead, we now have a Confederacy of Bullshitters, all convinced they're on a holy mission. Woody's films have all the secrets of debunking behavioral bullshit in them. It's up to anyone personally to see that ... or just continue to not go past that paywall online and only read headlines and languish in shallow ignorance. Maybe the trend of embracing lies in our culture will win this moment in history, as it sometimes has in the past. The Puritans in England managed to ban theater for a decade or two after Shakespeare died. Then eventually the arc of history made more sense. But we live in a badly mismanaged puritanical world, where most people don't even know what a Philistine is. Woody Allen's films are your choice to make. Woody's new book is a part of that group of 49 films Woody Allen has made, a manual to what Woody as a writer and an artist and a human being has intended. If liberating the human spirit through clarity and honesty is not your thing, then put the book down, don't watch his films. Nothing else to do but keep writing. Life goes on with or without you. It's been really nice to have had these films. And to now have this book.
    more
  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Thats All Folks!Well I think its pretty obvious that Woody didnt write this book, he recorded it. And it needed a good editor but being rejected by many publishers and sent out quickly probably inhibited that. Woman for Woody seem to be secondary to him. This is an autobiography but Woody doesnt see other people very well. Theyre all for use. Diane Keaton doesnt get hardly any mention in the book because shes the pal, never the romantic partner but luckily, she had two sisters to fornicate with That’s All Folks!Well I think it’s pretty obvious that Woody didn’t write this book, he recorded it. And it needed a good editor but being rejected by many publishers and sent out quickly probably inhibited that. Woman for Woody seem to be secondary to him. This is an autobiography but Woody doesn’t see other people very well. They’re all for use. Diane Keaton doesn’t get hardly any mention in the book because she’s the pal, never the romantic partner but luckily, she had two sisters to fornicate with too. The two women that seemed to overpower him are Louise Lasser and Mia Farrow. He spends considerable time on them. Louise was bipolar and often manic, which meant she was hot in bed and sexually promiscuous. She was also very wealthy, being the daughter of JK Lasser. Mia was the daughter of a Hollywood director and actress. She knew a lot of people Woody only dreamed of knowing. She also was a vixen, plotting to have his child and throw him away. Another powerful person is Judge Wilk, the judge who believed Mia and took his daughter away from him. One thing the judge pointed out is that Woody knew nothing of his children, not their doctors, the names of their friends, teachers, etc. In the book, Woody claims that he was the concerned parent who attended parent teacher conferences while Mia couldn’t be bothered. But later when talking about his children by Soon Yi, he says that she does all that stuff and if he is forced to go with her his mind wanders and makes fun of the process. I love Woody Allen’s films and am a big fan if his but I don’t believe that he is innocent of molesting Dylan. There’s good history of his films here but when it turns to Mia, he seems to be crying out for her to forgive him. His naming of a huge number of actors is the same way, forgive me. But he isn’t really is about himself. Soon Yi is there because he is bound to her by his indiscretion. Something that I felt bad for him in childhood was that he was determined to have a genius IQ and was asked to attend a school at Hunter College for geniuses. He claims his mother didn’t want to be bothered to take him there daily and he was reenrolled in the local elementary school where he languished and did poorly. He was accepted to NYU despite poor grades based on his intelligence but chose to cut classes and not achieve. His first two wives, who were educated and well read were the people who helped him read better books and pushed him to write. His biological child was also a born genius but Mia began taking him to a special school at Yale and he went to college at age 12 where she drove and took him everyday. I think Woody would have loved to have a supportive mother like that.
    more
  • Lance Tilford
    January 1, 1970
    Woody Allen offers a breezy "tell-all" that's part retrospective on his career, the trajectory of which is a bit of an EKG reading, and part exasperating but heartfelt attempt to offer his side of the allegations of abuse made against him by his former adopted daughter, Dylan.It's often very funny, underscoring his mastery at punch lines, verbal zingers and spot-on descriptives. It's also very much a product of the man--like his more recent films, a bit tone-deaf to the cultural moment, very Woody Allen offers a breezy "tell-all" that's part retrospective on his career, the trajectory of which is a bit of an EKG reading, and part exasperating but heartfelt attempt to offer his side of the allegations of abuse made against him by his former adopted daughter, Dylan.It's often very funny, underscoring his mastery at punch lines, verbal zingers and spot-on descriptives. It's also very much a product of the man--like his more recent films, a bit tone-deaf to the cultural moment, very much a product of a different time. The reader might be surprised that Allen vehemently presents himself as a simpleton, not very intellectual or inspirational. In movies, his dialogue often reads like a stage play (indeed, playwright was his original career goal); it's the sheer talent of excellent actors that bring it to life on screen (and he'd be the first to admit that). Woody makes films that revel in the past. He's always been a bit Neil Simon, a bit Groucho Marx, and a bit Ingmar Bergman. That's a striking combination that sometimes works brilliantly and often doesn't. For such a famously private person, there's far more name-dropping than I would have imagined, which is fine; his recollecionts of friendships are mainly glowing, from long-time associates to celebrity friends like Dick Cavett, Diane Keaton, and the many collaborators he's worked with over the years. Of course it wouldn't be a Woody Allen thing without hefty doses of self-deprecation. A few anecdotes about his early days and recollections of working with great cinematographer and actors with his movies (he mentions most of his films, but not all) pepper the first two thirds. The last third of the book is largely focused on the "scandal" of he and Soon-Yi Previn, Mia Farrow's adopted daughter, and the abuse allegations made against him by adopted daughter Dylan. To anyone who researches the facts of this sad case, the facts are firmly on Woody's side, and he details them meticulously, from police and psychiatrist records as well as testimony given by women who helped out in the Farrow household, and his adopted son, Moses, who had come around to defend his father. Fans of Woody's films and writing will find plenty to love about the book, and it will be a must-read, as it was dubious that Woody would ever produce an autobiography. The fact that the sensational allegations against him and the added thrust of the #metoo movement having renewed them probably forced him to defend his legacy. The book was famously ditched at the last minute by Hachette (after #metoo pressure) but quickly picked up. The #metoo witch hunt that long ago burned him at the stake will still not be appeased by his telling, of course. He does himself no favors by constant mentions of the physical beauty of his leading ladies and former lovers and partners, from his first wife to his ill-fated marriage with Louise Lasser, then of course with Mia Farrow. Everytime he mentions an actresses's sexiness and allure, the energy comes to a screeching halt because of our current cultural filters. Still, this is a testament of the accused. I imagine that, with two grown adopted daughters (with Soon-Yi; they've been together over 25 years), Woody would probably like to clear his name, for their sake if no other reason. For all the vital, necessary good that #metoo has done and is doing, some are innocent of its wrath, and Woody makes a good case for himself.
    more
  • Frank Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    Ive always loved Woody Allens films so when I saw this book was coming out it was top of my list to read. (So thanks to the folk who tried to ban it, without whom I might not have known it existed). What interested me most was the relationship between the life and the films. Mostly the films depict a particular kind of secular freewheeling lifestyle where men and women date, marry sometimes, divorce by mutual consent, and everyone continues on to the next adventure regardless. To live this I’ve always loved Woody Allen’s films so when I saw this book was coming out it was top of my list to read. (So thanks to the folk who tried to ban it, without whom I might not have known it existed). What interested me most was the relationship between the life and the films. Mostly the films depict a particular kind of secular freewheeling lifestyle where men and women date, marry sometimes, divorce by mutual consent, and everyone continues on to the next adventure regardless. To live this lifestyle requires money, and Allen’s protagonists always have money, mostly they are successful professionals, occasionally, perhaps, financiers, but mostly writers or academics with sufficient funds to afford that kind of lifestyle. My interest in reading these memoirs was to see if that kind of life really existed and, if so, how it worked out in practice. So you could say that the memoirs made a kind of final report on the experiment of a life. I found this book a very life-positive book and I felt the mind behind it was a very life-positive mind. Of course Woody Allen belongs to that small percentage of people on the planet who earns more than enough money doing the things he loves to live the life he wants to live. The book convinced me that money was never the prime motive, he was always willing to stick to his creative vision even if it murdered the bottom line. Some reviewers have complained that some of his descriptions of the actresses he worked with “objectify” women, such as his description of Scarlett Johansenn as “sexually radioactive” and so on. But having worked in the film industry myself for 15 years I can say that a lot of these actresses really are superhumanly sexy, and that’s a part of their trade. If you think Woody Allen “objectifies” women, just look at the films. Apart from Ingmar Bergman, no film maker has been more sensitive in his analysis and depiction of relations between men and women than Allen, and he has never, ever asked an acress to strip off just to titillate an audience. I find the campaign to “cancel” him on his own continent deeply disturbing. If the book was a report on an experiment, then the final report was a resounding postive, even if that kind of life can’t be lived any more. I felt the book was a kind of shout of joy, really, one that perhaps many people will be deaf to, but a resounding shout nevertheless. We should all be so lucky.
    more
  • Ed
    January 1, 1970
    Im gonna get personal here and a little heavy so apologies. My father died three weeks ago and this relates to Woody Allen in a couple of ways. One, they were from the same part of Brooklyn and even went to the same school albeit years apart. Two, my love of Woody Allens movies came from my father along with other key parts of my pop culture taste. Three, my father looked and sounded so much like Woody Allen he heard that his whole adult life from friends and strangers alike. Despite that, I I’m gonna get personal here and a little heavy so apologies. My father died three weeks ago and this relates to Woody Allen in a couple of ways. One, they were from the same part of Brooklyn and even went to the same school albeit years apart. Two, my love of Woody Allen’s movies came from my father along with other key parts of my pop culture taste. Three, my father looked and sounded so much like Woody Allen he heard that his whole adult life from friends and strangers alike. Despite that, I left all of the above out of my father’s eulogy because the mention of Woody is toxic to people who believe he’s guilty and strikes fear of repercussions into those who feel he’s innocent. I was going to tap dance around that myself here because I work in the entertainment industry and feared this being dug up like a bad tweet. What’s the point? Everyone who defended him (Alec Baldwin, Diane Keaton, Scarlett Johannsen, Wallace Shawn, Alan Alda, Jude law, Ray Liotta) suffered zero repercussions. Well, I was being stupid, cowardly and egotistical, none of which would make my father proud. I read this book so obviously I believe Woody. Duh. And let me be clear, saying so doesn’t make me brave just not cowardly. Wringing my hands about this (like Woody) is just insane. We’re under siege from a global pandemic so I guess I have perspective if not wisdom. Putting ALL that aside, this is a fascinating look at an incredible career high and low. He at least mentions all of his movies, which is astounding given there are about 50. He’s typically insightful, self deprecating and witty. We don’t usually get direct access like this so this is invaluable for that just on it’s own. I promise the next thing I review won’t be so personal or heavy so...is Fifty Shades as good as I hear?
    more
  • Richard Schwindt
    January 1, 1970
    I think its fair to say there isnt anyone else like Woody Allen, though in his autobiography Apropos of Nothing theres an anecdote about someone with the same name who almost compounds his troubles. In this book Allen goes to some length defining who he is (film maker, neurotic, husband, father, funny guy) and who he is not (socially adept, intellectual, child abuser). Covering his first 84 years, it feels like he has written a few different books; the Jewish Brooklyn childhood (to my mind the I think it’s fair to say there isn’t anyone else like Woody Allen, though in his autobiography Apropos of Nothing there’s an anecdote about someone with the same name who almost compounds his troubles. In this book Allen goes to some length defining who he is (film maker, neurotic, husband, father, funny guy) and who he is not (socially adept, intellectual, child abuser). Covering his first 84 years, it feels like he has written a few different books; the Jewish Brooklyn childhood (to my mind the best part of the story), his life as a filmmaker, and of course the troubles with Mia Farrow that culminated in his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn and the accusations of child abuse by Mia and Dylan Farrow. Allen is a writer first and this book shows off that skill; albeit with sometimes jarring tonal shifts. The account of his troubles after the abuse allegation are compelling, though it is obviously from his point of view and if you wish to pronounce on it his suggestion is valid; inform yourself first. This is a worthwhile read – at times quite funny; I recommend it for the many of us who are curious about the author of so many remarkable films, so many laughs and at the center of one of the most publicized celebrity controversies. And whether you care to admit it or not, many of us share that curiosity.
    more
  • Kevin Camp
    January 1, 1970
    This is a lazily written book, half of which is a defense of former wife Mia Farrow's accusation of child molestation towards their biological son, Dylan. Allen concedes that when Farrow learned of her then-husband's affections towards her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi, she had every right to be upset. Still, he rationalizes his ultimate decision, and spends at least a third of the manuscript trashing Farrow.According to Allen, Mia Farrow adopts children like some women buy shoes. A description of a This is a lazily written book, half of which is a defense of former wife Mia Farrow's accusation of child molestation towards their biological son, Dylan. Allen concedes that when Farrow learned of her then-husband's affections towards her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi, she had every right to be upset. Still, he rationalizes his ultimate decision, and spends at least a third of the manuscript trashing Farrow.According to Allen, Mia Farrow adopts children like some women buy shoes. A description of a knock-down, drag-out court battle does little to develop the narrative and makes both Allen and Farrow seems supremely childish. Aside from this predicable screed, Allen shares a minimum of anecdotes, a smattering of one-liners, and disappointingly little else. Had he not already been a celebrity, he would not have had the luxury to write such a half-assed book. The book's one strength is an expose of second wife Louise Lasser and her bipolar disorder.It's a disappointing read, but not without its charms. The one surprise is that Allen's signature geeky, awkward, socially inept persona is little more than an act. He was far more successful in love and in sports than his movies would have you believe.
    more
  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    Too bad it took false accusations for Woody Allen to finally write his autobiography. It is a treat to get to spend time with his memories, anecdotes, musings, and details about his life and work. Every film he made is mentioned and every woman he has ever loved is written about with no holds barred. Allen gives us plenty of insights into his relationships with Mia Farrow and his wife Soon-Yi to hopefully settle the score on that mess. In the end, we may sadly never get to see a new Woody Allen Too bad it took false accusations for Woody Allen to finally write his autobiography. It is a treat to get to spend time with his memories, anecdotes, musings, and details about his life and work. Every film he made is mentioned and every woman he has ever loved is written about with no holds barred. Allen gives us plenty of insights into his relationships with Mia Farrow and his wife Soon-Yi to hopefully settle the score on that mess. In the end, we may sadly never get to see a new Woody Allen film again in the U.S. but this book allows us to hear from him one last time and doing so is a complete treasure.
    more
  • Robin Lyons
    January 1, 1970
    Admire Woody Allen even more after reading thisWhat an interesting, funny book with one sad sad part-but that is described so clearly and with no self pity.I havent seen a great many of Woody Allens movies, maybe 7 or 8, but I intend now after reading his funny erudite account of his life and works to watch my way through his filmography. I started tonight with Annie Hall which I first saw in the 80s (though in the late 70s wore fashion related to Diane Keatons wardrobe). Such great feeling and Admire Woody Allen even more after reading thisWhat an interesting, funny book with one sad sad part-but that is described so clearly and with no self pity.I haven’t seen a great many of Woody Allen’s movies, maybe 7 or 8, but I intend now after reading his funny erudite account of his life and works to watch my way through his filmography. I started tonight with Annie Hall which I first saw in the 80s (though in the late 70s wore fashion related to Diane Keaton’s wardrobe). Such great feeling and humour, also beautiful surroundings.Shame, Amazon, that you’ve acted on blatant lies against Woody Allen.
    more
  • Barbara Bottner
    January 1, 1970
    Of course the book is entertaining; laugh out loud on every page but it also grounds the reader in Allen's family and upbringing and his road to becoming a writer/director. There's plenty of stuff about the headlines. Enough to convince me of his innocence and I was a finger pointer from the get go. Worth your time especially if you're a writer, love comedy and a human.
    more
  • Paulina
    January 1, 1970
    This really reminded me, how funny this man is and what an amazing influence his movies had on my life. I am now re watching them, which is in itself fantastic exercise in times of cholera. Bonus is that you can listen to Allen movies soundtrack on the back, that gives it an extra tasty vibe. You will just quickly have to pause while reading chapter about Mia Farrow and accusation of sexual molestation. This reads like Mommy Dearest and you need a little drink to calm your neves.
    more
  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    the only book i will rate one star without reading
  • Brian Delaney
    January 1, 1970
    What a great read. Most compulsively readable biographies I've read in years. Smart and funny.Then there's the whole Mia Farrow and Soon-yi thing which takes up much of the second half of the book. It's difficult not to see his side of it from this account. Still. It's a bit weird.
    more
  • Carlos Vasconcelos
    January 1, 1970
    The first half of the book is amazing. The second one, not so much.
Write a review