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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 - Edition No 893 

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WILD MAN BLUES

SYNOPSIS:
Feature length documentary about Woody Allen and his New Orleans-style jazz band, filmed during his recent European Tour, starting with the charter flight across the Atlantic. Allen and his band take the stage and play before adoring audiences in seven countries and eighteen cities, capturing the energy and passion of these performances. The film also reveals Allen in more private moments, as he fends off overzealous fans and paparazzi and struggles with the Felliniesque carnival of celebrity that surrounds him. Accompanied by his girlfriend Soon Yi Previn and his sister, Letty, Allen displays his signature humour and reveals – in addition to his obsessions and neuroses – the private person behind the public persona, in glimpses aboard gondolas, inside hotel suites and cars.

"Compelling, revealing and very human, Wild Man Blues is a biting and intriguing insight into the life of the enigmatic Woody Allen. What’s really fascinating about this well-made documentary, is the honesty in which Allen is portrayed, and the overall feeling of being a fly on the wall during some amazing, deeply personal moments. There’s insight into Allen the man, by his approach to the various parts of his life. There are no pretensions here, but a self-deprecating style, the familiar cutting wit and an endearing insecurity, which is often surprising and refreshing. When hundreds of fans appear outside a hotel, Allen debates whether or not to make an appearance – how does he know that they really want to see HIM, in case someone like Mick Jagger is also staying there. Perhaps the highlight is a brutally frank conversation between Allen and his elderly jewish parents, who don’t mince words. And there’s his much-talked about relationship with Soon Yi Previn; Previn impresses with her no-nonsense, matter-of-fact manner. No shrinking violet is she. Here is a forthright, smart, sassy, patient and caring individual, who boosts Allen’s morale and seems (can I say?) normal! Watching Allen and Previn together in their towelling robes over room service breakfast swapping dishes because Previn’s Spanish omelette is rock hard, is not only enlightening but very funny. There are no airs and graces as they joke about at the magnificent suite they have been given, and astonish that their suite has its own sunken pool; clothes off and in they dip. Wild Man Blues looks at the man through his music, and there is no question Allen is serious about that. He is at his most relaxed when he plays the clarinet with passion, swept away by the jazz and the rhythm. As entertaining as any of his films, and decidedly more complex, Wild Man Blues is a delicious treat – don’t miss it."
Louise Keller

"Yes, indeed, this is cinema verité without the nasty bits – although there are plenty of anguished moments, such as Woody getting seasick in a gondola. Wild Man Blues is an ironic title, which is a nice surprise, and one that mocks Woody’s nerdyness. Yet the film also celebrates it, although Barbara Kopple deserves praise for her innocent approach, neither moralising or trying to manipulate the footage to save or to slander her subject. There is also much verité in the selection of conversations; neither grovelling nor haughty, Kopple’s editing is balanced and entertaining. Hugely entertaining, especially as she has managed to keep enough of the music to let it speak for itself and to make sense of Woody’s passion for it – without overburdening the film with it. If you are a Woody fan, this will be a treat; if you are not a Woody fan, this will be a revelation."
Andrew L. Urban



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CRITICAL COUNT:
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0
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WILD MAN BLUES (MA)
(US)

BAND MEMBERS: Woody Allen, Dan Barrett, Simon Wettenhall, John Gill, Cynthia Sayer, Greg Cohen, Eddy Davis

DIRECTOR: Barbara Kopple

PRODUCER: Jean Doumanian

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Hurwitz

EDITOR: Lawrence Silk

SOUND RECORDIST: Barbara Kopple, Peter Miller

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: (Melbourne) June 25, 1998; (Sydney) July 30; (Brisb, Adelaide, Perth) July 16)







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