Wednesday Book: Portrait of a troubled artist

WOODY ALLEN: A BIOGRAPHY

Letter: Gays and the law

Sir: Cameron Docherty (Film, 18 June) argues that Anne Heche should have stayed in the closet because we cannot believe her character is genuinely attracted to the character played by Harrison Ford (a man - damn!). Does this mean, for instance, that Woody Allen should never be involved with a woman his own age on screen because we all know Soon Yi is much younger? Should he worry about playing opposite non-Koreans?

Theatre: Shakespeare in Manhattan

THE RSC must be kicking itself. While it's doing Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett and Stephen Poliakoff, an American group has come up with a neat spin on the RSC's resident playwright. The Acting Company has commissioned and produced seven plays by American playwrights inspired by Shakespeare's sonnets. Three of the writers are Pulitzer Prize-winners (Tony Kushner, Wendy Wasserstein and Marsha Norman) and there are pieces, too, by Eric Bogosian, who wrote Talk Radio, and John Guare, who wrote Six Degrees of Separation. These peppy, off-beat playlets work very well together. Cheekily enough, the excellent Acting Company performs them, as part of the "Inventing America" season at the Barbican, in a venue the RSC has temporarily vacated, the Pit.

Why women like it hot and men keep their cool

SCIENTISTS have confirmed what every Woody Allen fan knows - that women are too hot to handle.

SHOOT THE ACTOR!

You don't have to like Woody the man to like his movies. And his latest, `Deconstructing Harry', is a mighty feat of film-making. It's just a pity that Allen has to star in it as well

The kids will go mad for a bite at the Big Apple

Manhattan is perfect for children. And don't worry: only the dinosaurs are scary, writes Anthony Daly

Woody Allen falls foul of courts again

Woody Allen's repeated run-ins with the courts, mostly in his bitter custody battles with ex-love Mia Farrow, were enough to get him dropped from jury duty in New York.

Television: Fancy an English, anybody?

TV's first all-Asian sketch show starts this month and, Sue Gaisford finds, the jokes aren't all about white lager louts

Revelations: How a nice Jewish boy came to celebrate Christmas

They may as well as have been the Waltons. They were 22 carat solid gold Christians and I was eating their turkey. Peter Moss recalls a Christmas past.

Cries and Whispers: My good friend Homie Blair

There are few things less absorbing than an LP's sleevenotes, so it's always a pleasant shock when the music obsessive's eyesight-jeopardising scrutiny of the small print is rewarded with anything worth reading. One such case is the intriguing dedication on 12Play, the record released in 1993 by Chicago's groin-rubbing swingbeat balladeer, R Kelly: "Shout out to my homie and good friend Tony Blair (the Beeper Daddy) - Page me later, Nigger." And you thought he was just a Paul Rodgers fan.

Choice: Film: Annie Hall

Annie Hall, Warwick Arts Centre 6.30pm (01203 524524)

Beverage Report: Sunshine wines

After returning from holiday in New York and California (which I recommend) with a tooth abscess (which I don't), I found myself facing a metre-high pile of post. This is the downside of returning from holiday, but happily, there was an upside in my case. In many cases, to be precise - a couple of dozen bottles waiting to be opened and tasted. I waited till the abscess had been tamed, then started swilling energetically.

Funniest Film Poll; Hulot, Hulot, Hulot!

To Mark the recent re-release of Jacques Tati's classic comedy Jour de Fete, we asked IoS readers to nominate their funniest films of all time. The 112 films mentioned at least once certainly reflected the diversity of what makes us laugh, but the one that topped the poll did so by a huge margin: Tati's Mr Hulot's Holiday, which, under our scoring system, gained twice as many points as the runner-up, Some Like It Hot.

WIN WOODY ALLEN CLASSICS

In the last 30 years, Woody Allen's output as a director, actor and producer has been prodigious, and his particular brand of neurotic humour has proved a huge hit.

Cinema: A charming ode to silly love songs

There was a time when the quickest way to win angry glares and ostracism from middle-brow petting parties was to argue that Woody Allen's films were an embarrassing, wretchedly unfunny amalgam of self- aggrandisement and self-pity. But times have changed and so has Woody. Just as his more recent movies are unlikely to provoke zealotry (it's hard to imagine a Woodyphile staring you glassily in the eye and explaining how his life was changed by Mighty Aphrodite), they also seem to be offering ever less cause for purist spleen. All right, deep breath, let's get this over with: Woody Allen's 26th film, a musical comedy entitled Everyone Says I Love You (12) is - curses! chiz! - really quite charming.
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