Few writers or directors have a work ethic like Woody Allen. The writer/director/actor consistently delivers a new film every year, something which is an impressive feat for anyone – but even more so now that he’s 78 years old. It’s the perfect conveyor belt of moviemaking that constantly delivers without ever feeling like a product that has been churned out without care. It’s obvious that Allen likes to work and he has a well oiled machine that lets him do this. Kaleidoscope Entertainment give us The Woody Allen Collection, a tremendous DVD collection of eight Woody Allen movies. Seven of these (Bullets Over Broadway, Celebrity, Deconstructing Harry, Everyone Says I Love You, Mighty Aphrodite, Small Time Crooks and Sweet and Lowdown) were written and directed by Allen, while the eighth, Wild Man Blues is a documentary by Barbara Kopple which follows Allen on a 1996 European Jazz tour.
This is a great Allen starter pack, with a selection of his movies from the last twenty years. Anyone who is new to Allen’s work will be able to watch them and immediately understand what interests him as a filmmaker. You’ll be able to see his obsessions with neuroses, failed relationships, paranoia, jazz and New York. However, what Allen is able to do is create a unique setting for each tale that incorporates these. If there was ever a strong argument for the auteur theory, then it’s Allen’s cinematic output. His character and persona are woven deep into each of his films, even the ones which he doesn’t star in.
It has become something of a running joke that every new Allen film is a return to form, or that his new work isn’t as good as his earlier, funnier films. Looking back at his work over time, it’s hard to agree with this. All of these films include something that is worth your time, be it a performance, the music or Allen’s trademark dialogue. Admittedly, Woody’s oeuvre is an acquired taste, but once you’re onboard with his style of moviemaking then you’re smitten. You’ll come to understand that even Allen’s lesser works are essential.
These films feature a plethora of stars who were eager to work with the master director. Bullets Over Broadway stars John Cusack, Diane Wiest, Mary Louise Parker and Chazz Palminteri, while Celebrity includes Kenneth Branagh, Leonardo DiCaprio (at the height of his post-Titanic fame) and Charlize Theron. Everyone Says I love You has Goldie Hawn, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore and Edward Norton while the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Mira Sorvino, Sean Penn and Hugh Grant make an appearance in Mighty Aphrodite, Small Time Crooks and Sweet And Lowdown. Allen is a famously hands-off director, but you can feel his touch seep through each performance. There is a Woody Allen style of acting that these stars take-on to suit his writing.
The Woody Collection is a perfect snapshot of Woody Allen’s career from 1994 to 2000. It’s a great collection which shows a writer/director who is willing to tackle a wide range of topics without sacrificing his cinematic voice. These movies would sit well in any DVD collection.