109 minutes, U.S.A., 2011, Colour, D-Cinema

Granted unprecedented access to Woody Allen and his collaborators, this affectionate portrait captures the scale of his achievement while investigating the inner workings that sustain this most prolific of modern masters.

A wealth of amazing archive material unearths Allen’s early years as a comedian and chat-show regular (wait till you see him with the boxing kangaroo!) before a traumatic initial brush with the Hollywood machine on What’s New, Pussycat? forged his determination to retain creative control of his subsequent output.

With clips spanning the breadth of Woody’s career, director Robert B. Weide outlines the seismic shift between the early outright comedies and the more mature phase beginning with the Oscar-winning Annie Hall, which in turn saw Allen striking an often precarious balance between laughter and seriousness.

Although respectful of Allen’s privacy, the film still gives us a peek into his writerly habits, while a key interview presents an eternally self-deprecating talent.

The result is as warm, witty and entertaining as Allen’s best movies.  (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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