... at once a lively tale of growing up lower-middle-class in Brooklyn; a gossipy account of scrambling up the comedy ladder from tabloid gag writer to Oscar winner; an aggrieved attack on Mia Farrow; and a look in the rear-view mirror at his long career with the aim of assessing its worth. (His verdict: not much.) If you’re 100% convinced that he molested his daughter Dylan, this book is not for you. But for those of us who admire that career and can still muster an interest in it, this memoir is for the most part a pleasure to read and entertaining company ... There are some tells in Allen’s account that are disquieting ... And yet you read on (or I did). You’d have to be a real sourpuss not to laugh at the fusillade of one-liners, two-liners, three-liners and so on ... If he’s tough on those supposedly near and dear, Allen is equally unsparing of others, no matter how powerful ... Apropos of Nothing is filled with vivid detail about the movies and the producers, directors and actors with whom Allen worked ... The first third of the book is a romp, but when Allen finally works his way up to Mia Farrow, out comes the heavy artillery ... On his life in exile and his genuine feelings about being ostracized, there is, unfortunately, almost nothing, though a general sense of resignation creeps in.
Volunteering to review [Apropos of Nothing], in our moral climate, is akin to volunteering for the 2021 Olympic javelin-catching team. I told my wife and daughter my plan, and they stared at me as if I’d announced my intention to find the nearest functioning salad bar and lick the sneeze guard ... I believe Allen’s sexual relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his longtime partner Mia Farrow, which began when Previn was 21, was obviously the perverse act of a man whose brain salts are dangerously out of balance ... The accusation that in 1992 he molested his adopted daughter, the 7-year-old Dylan Farrow, is a charge of another magnitude. I believe that the less you’ve read about this case, the easier it is to render judgment on it ... I believe that Hachette, the publishing house that acquired and then canceled Apropos of Nothing, behaved cravenly ... So kill me now or come along, there’s a book to talk about ... Anyone who’s read Allen’s previous books...knows he has an authentic and easygoing voice on the page. That’s true in Apropos of Nothing, too, at least for a while. Later on this book begins to make the clicking sound cars do when the battery has expired ... Like many of our fathers and grandfathers, Allen is a 20th-century man in a 21st-century world. His friends should have warned him that Apropos of Nothing is incredibly, unbelievably tone deaf on the subject of women ... Nearly every time a woman is mentioned, there’s a gratuitous pronouncement on her looks ... The heavy breathing gets more intense as the book moves on ... 'When you meet her you have to fight your way through the pheromones,' he writes about Scarlett Johansson, 19 when he first worked with her. 'Not only was she gifted and beautiful, but sexually she was radioactive' ... The final third of this book falls apart dreadfully. It’s a rolling of credits, a handing out of goody bags ... He can live with being reviled by many, he says, because he doesn’t read the articles. He lives in a bubble. He’s making a new movie.
Allen is surprisingly forthright on the various accusations against him ... Allen is not exactly blasé about it all, but it’s close ... Is this text the same as the one Grand Central had intended to publish? The authorial voice is loose by design, but there are lapses that I’d imagine would bother most editors (like a forgetful relative, Allen clumsily repeats an anecdote, about a statue of him erected in a Spanish town). I do not know whether the more salacious disclosures—such as that Ronan 'had his legs broken a few times and reconstructed to lengthen them' to gain the advantage of height that might serve him in a future political career—have been subjected to legal review ... Apropos of Nothing is a reminder that Woody Allen has been playing himself for a long time ... I was mostly unmoved by his whiz-bang voice; though I’m a sucker for gossip, I was mostly uninterested in his prodigious name-dropping. Leave aside, if you can, the question of whether Woody Allen ought to be canceled and consider, instead, whether he’s simply gone stale.