The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen (英語) ペーパーバック – 2003/4/1
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For three decades, no American filmmaker has been as prolific -- or as paradoxical -- as Woody Allen. From Play It Again, Sam (1972) through Celebrity (1998) and Sweet and Lowdown (1999), Allen has produced an average of one film a year, yet in many of these films Allen reveals a progressively skeptical attitude toward both the value of art and the cultural contributions of artists.
In examining Allen's filmmaking career, The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen demonstrates that his movies often question whether the projected illusions of magicians/artists benefit audience or artists. Other Allen films dramatize the opposed conviction that the consoling, life-redeeming illusions of art are the best solution humanity has devised to the existential dilemma of being a death-foreseeing animal. Peter Bailey demonstrates how Allen's films repeatedly revisit and reconfigure this tension between image and reality, art and life, fabrication and factuality, with each film reaching provisional resolutions that a subsequent movie will revise.
Merging criticism and biography, Bailey identifies Allen's ambivalent views of the artistic enterprise as a key to understanding his entire filmmaking career. Because of its focus upon filmmaker Sandy Bates's conflict between entertaining audiences and confronting them with bleak human actualities, Stardust Memories is a central focus of the book. Bailey's examination of Allen's art/life dialectic also draws from the off screen drama of Allen's very public separation from Mia Farrow, and the book accordingly construes such post-scandal films as Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite as Allen's oblique cinematic responses to that tabloid tempest.
By illuminating the thematic conflict at the heart of Allen's work, Bailey seeks not only to clarify the aesthetic designs of individual Allen films but to demonstrate how his oeuvre enacts an ongoing debate the screenwriter/director has been conducting with himself between creating cinematic narratives affirming the saving powers of the human imagination and making films acknowledging the irresolvably dark truths of the human condition.
"Fans and students of Allen's films will gain new insights into both the most popular as well as some of Allen's neglected works."
"Demonstrating an extraordinary grasp of Allen's work, Bailey argues that the heroes of the films have matured from stammering, insecure clowns... to older men and women who struggle to create order in their lives through some form of art, while their personal lives continue to disintegrate around them." -- "America"
"His detailed treatment of Allen's work in the nineties is an especially welcome addition of the critical literature." -- "American Studies"
"Bailey is a perceptive, sensitive, original commentator, who makes a convincing, often brilliant, case." -- "Canadian Review of Comparative Literature"
"A splendid compendium of critical insights, production details, and sympathetic if frank appraisals of many films." -- "Creative Screenwriting"
"An in-depth look at the films and the internal struggle that helped create them." -- "Hollywood Inside Syndicate"
"Bailey's rigorous study will please the serious student of film and of 20th-century artistic impression." -- "Virginia Quarterly Review"
"[Bailey's] detailed treatment of Allen's work in the nineties is an especially welcome addition of the critical literature. [His] investigation of Allen's debate over the redemptive powers of art ultimately addresses crucial questions about American popular culture and entertainment. An important contribution to American film studies." -- "American Studies"
"Bailey knows Woody Allen's work backwards and forwards, and his book makes many illuminating connections among the films in the Allen canon. In particular, Bailey reveals the significance of Allen's treatment of the role of the artist and the cultural function of movies in American life." -- Christopher Ames, author of "Movies About the Movies"
"Bailey engages Allen with a serious, intelligent, and creative critical imagination. Fans and students of Allen's films will gain new insights into both the most popular as well as some of Allen's neglected works." -- Sam B. Girgus, author of "The Films of Woody Allen"商品の説明をすべて表示する
Bailey, an English professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., demonstrated his gift for making sense of challenging contemporary literary art with Reading Stanley Elkin in the mid-'80s. In The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen, he takes on a more readily accessible subject but does not hold back any of the tremendous critical insight at his command. The result is a book both for serious film buffs--that is, buffs of serious film (a subjective distinction taken up in this book)--and for film scholars alike. I was impressed by Bailey's scholarly precision, yet after reading the first couple of chapters I wanted to dash out and rent Stardust Memories, Manhattan, and several other signature Woody Allen flicks. This book has actually made watching his movies a more intellectually stimulating experience without killing the comic moments so abundant in them.
A college English instructor myself, I appreciate the challenge of leading a critical investigation of something fun and entertaining without making that subject, well, less fun and entertaining. Bailey succeeds admirably with this book, mainly because he never puts Allen on a pedestal. The author is a fan, to be sure, as indicated by his generous praise for what Allen does well--and has done well at a pace of roughly one film a year since 1972. This book's thesis, however, delves more deeply into a particularly compelling set of questions at the core of most of Allen's films: What do they say about the role of art in our lives? Is it a redeeming social force or merely a pleasant diversion from life's suffering? Are Woody Allen's films art or merely pleasant, entertaining diversions?
Bailey combines his own convincing interpretations of Allen's film work with previously reported comments from Allen on these questions to show not only how equivocal Woody Allen movies are on the matter of art's benefits and costs, but how central a theme this equivocating is in those movies. To his great credit--and unlike many scholarly investigations of film and literary art--Bailey avoids overbearing suggestions that HIS interpretations are REALLY what Allen's films are all about. Rather, the author has found a thread running through Allen's work that he holds up to the light--a light that has lingered too long on the personality of Woody Allen and the attending tabloid drama. This more illuminating thread--the vexed relationship of art to life and the difficulty of reconciling the two, both in art and in life--is of such enormous importance in the broader conversation of American popular culture that the absence of details on Allen's personal travails reads as a virtue in Bailey's book.
While Woody Allen fans will definitely find The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen most enjoyable and accessible, any moviegoer who has ever contemplated what distinguishes the cinematic good and bad from the ugly will find this book thought-provoking, perhaps at times profound. Ultimately, this is not a portrait of a filmmaker so much as the study of an intriguing film mind at work--and a snapshot of a possible film legend as a work-in-progress.