Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Woody Allen: Reel to Reel by Alex Sheremet

As hard as it may be for many of us to believe, Woody Allen's career goes back seventy years. It was in 1955, when he was only 19 years old, that Mr. Allen joined the NBC Writer's Development Programme. He went on to write for The NBC Comedy HourThe Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, Candid Camera, and The Pat Boone Show. He began a career in stand-up comedy in 1960 and in 1966 he wrote the play Don't Drink the Water. The year 1966 saw the debut of Woody Allen's fist film, What's Up, Tiger Lily?, which was simply the Japanese spy film, International Secret Police: Key of Keys overdubbed with dialogue written by Woody Allen. In 1969 Take the Money and Run, the first wholly original film directed and written by Woody Allen, was released.

Since that time Woody Allen has become both a critically acclaimed filmmaker whose influence has been felt on more than one generation of directors. There have been several book written on Woody Allen's films, but none are as comprehensive as Woody Allen: Reel to Reel by critic, poet, and novelist Alex Sheremet. Mr. Sheremet examines every single film ever made by Woody Allen in depth. In Woody Allen: Reel to Reel Woody Allen's works are dissected to a degree that they have never been before. Alex Sheremet even includes Woody Allen's thoughts on his own films, career, and his life. Quite simply, Woody Allen: Reel to Reel covers a good deal of ground that has never been covered before.

As if this was not enough, Woody Allen: Reel to Reel is further set apart from earlier works on Woody Allen's films by the fact that it is a DigiDialogue. To quote from DigiDialogue.Net, a DigiDialgoue is "a process and a product that results with a published eBook where the dialogue between the author and the audience becomes part of the final ‘copy’." Alex Sheremet's analyses of Woody Allen's films are then punctuated by comments from his readers on his website at http://www.woodyallenreel2real.com. From time to time, then, Woody Allen: Reel to Reel will be updated with more comments, offering readers the chance to give their own views of Woody Allen's films and career.

With Woody Allen: Reel to Reel Alex Shermet has made a remarkable achievement. What is more, it is not simply in the breadth of his work. With every analysis of every film Mr. Sheremet gives sound reasons for his views, going in depth on his opinions of various Woody Allen films. One might sometimes disagree with Alex Sheremet on his opinion of any given film (and I occasionally found myself doing so), but he or she can understand the basis of Mr. Sheremet's views of any given film and as a result he or she can respect them. Unlike many critics, he does not simply say, "I don't like this film", and give no sound reasoning for doing so.

Here it must be pointed out that Alex Sheremet goes beyond analysing Woody Allen's films. He has an entire chapter devoted to films in which Mr. Allen only appeared as an actor (such as 1967's Casino Royale and 1976's The Front). He also has a chapter devoted to Woody Allen's critics in which he analyses their criticisms and discusses where he agrees or disagrees with him. The final chapter deals with the influences on Woody Allen's works.

Woody Allen: Reel to Reel is an remarkable accomplishment on Alex Sheremet's part. It is the most in-depth work ever published on Woody Allen's works and career. It is definitely a must for any fan of Woody Allen's films or anyone wishing to learn more about them.

(Woody Allen: Reel to Reel is available at Amazon)

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