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High-grade infotainment, even though it's directed by Barbara Kopple (Harlan County U.S.A., American Dream), this is an “intimate” documentary of Woody Allen's 1996 European tour with his Dixieland band, filmed at Allen's instigation by his own production company, with Allen rather than Kopple retaining final cut, though it's made to seem that Allen went along with the scheme rather than dreamed it up himself. On the plus side, it shows him at his most serious, as a dedicated (and better than average) clarinetist performing with an OK New Orleans-style band, and it provides some generous insights into his psychic background when his unsupportive parents greet him back in New York at the end. It also furnishes plenty of evidence of his outsize European reputation as he?s mobbed by fans in Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Venice, Milan, Bologna, Turin, Rome, and London. The controlled casualness of Allen's breakfast patter with his young wife, Soon-Yi Previn, which tends to foster the pretense that a camera crew isn't around, seems to balance candor with concealment, just as his fictional features do. All in all, I found this more absorbing than Everyone Says I Love You and Deconstructing Harry, though it certainly isn't a patch on Manhattan Murder Mystery.

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