auteur, I watched Deconstructing Harry last night, where Allen parodies his approach to filmmaking; the constant self-examination, the neuroses, and the use of his personal life as material for his films. It was interesting that he presented himself as a writer, which may say a lot about the discussion we've been having, but then again, he already explored the directing process in Stardust Memories. It was also interesting to see him "lift" large parts of Wild Strawberries, although stylistically it reminded me a lot of Fellini. That in itself may have been reflexive, since there was so much self-referencing in the film. Deconstructing Harry was okay, and had moments which were brilliantly written, but twenty years on from his truly great films, he seems to be treading the same kind of ground without any further insight. It almost felt like a confession that he's been unable to resolve the feelings that fueled those films. Whereas Annie Hall leaves you feeling like there's some kind of hope, his more recent films are often bitter or dissatisfied. On the whole, Deconstructing Harry was more enjoyable than say something like Husbands and Wives, but the latter film felt like an advancement on the themes in Woody Allen films, at least the ones that deal with personal relationships. Perhaps he's had one romantic failure too many, I think the next Woody Allen film I watch will be something like Everybody Says I Love you, because his more "concept" orientated films have a broader appeal to me in his latter work.
That WASP comment was funny, and very true, as is the comment about "his" Manhattan, although after watching Deconstructing Harry, I'm sure it has nothing to do with any kind of racial politics. One of the best things about Deconstructing Harry was his self-critique of his attitude towards Judaism. He seems upfront about his prejudices. I don't think there's a Woody Allen hang-up that's been left unturned, and judging by his recent output, his creativity could use a few new neuroses.
While the criticism of just whose Manhattan he was portraying is valid, I also think you could say the same about any number of directors, for instance, Ozu's view of the Japanese family dynamic is not every Japanese person (or director's) view. It came from Ozu's imagination and his observations, and that change in the relationship between parent and child (and family dynamic) wasn't something that he lived through, at least not directly. The great thing about cinema is that a singular view such as Ozu's is usually offset by the reactions of an Oshima or a Shohei Imamura, and I'm sure there are films in American cinema that offer a counter view of Manhattan that resonate with you.