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Wild Man Blues

Director: Barbara Kopple


The award-winning documentarist Barbara Kopple has made an affectionate and quite candid feature-length portrait of Woody Allen as he tours through Europe with his New Orleans-style jazz band. One assumes that Allen agreed to the making of the film because of his deep love of jazz, and Kopple’s extensive coverage of the concerts captures all the energy and passion of the performances. Jazz fans will not be disappointed. But no doubt most people will see the film because of Allen rather than the music, just like the majority of the concert-goers who are interviewed. Fans will be pleased to discover that Kopple seems to have been granted almost unlimited access during the tour, and her cameras are there to capture some treasurable moments. At times Allen almost appears to be playing a character from one of his own movies, as he makes quips about the cities and beautiful hotels he passes through. Of Bologna he says, with a couple of valium I could learn to like it; on a palatial Milanese hotel, My God, even the housekeepers have housekeepers. The interactions between Allen and his young wife, Soon Yi Previn, are intriguing. Making light of the controversy that surrounded their relationship, Allen often introduces his partner as the notorious Soon Yi Previn. In their private moments together, he comes across as the geeky intellectual and she as the pragmatic, mothering wife who shows little interest in his film career. In a marvellous epilogue that speaks volumes, Allen and Soon Yi visit his parents in New York. The nonagenarian couple reveal that they wanted Woody to be a pharmacist and express some disappointment that his girlfriend is Asian, not a nice Jewish girl.

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