on 10 February 2013
After watching Allen's latest films, we embraced Annie Hall fully. Allen knows New York better than other locales. More importantly, his actors in Annie Hall are distinguished. So many characters in Allen's films through the years are more or less playing Woody Allen. That's incongruous in recent films when mall-brats read his script... "maturely." The players in Annie Hall have their own voices and let Allen play Allen. Tony Roberts shrugs off Allen's paranoia, Carol Kane sees through his complex stereotyping, Paul Simon plays against type - or plays one of his bi-coastal types - as the laid back guy, and Jeff Goldblum can't remember his mantra. (I forget the characters names -- hey, look man, names are just labels and I don't get into that). In one of his not-too-much-later films, Allen counters "You're a self-hating Jew" with "No, I hate myself - but not because I'm Jewish." One has to wonder if Allen wants to stay in New York because he's a masochist. That's one for the psychiatrists. Annie Hall wants to stay in (Allen's simply stereotyped) LA. Who can blame her? She starts anew as, it turns out, an equal to Allen and people with "III" and "IV" after their names. And with a little Pilates she can get more in tune with herself, get in touch with mind spirit body.
Finally, a film where Allen has equals.
on 30 May 2003
What is there to say? If you haven't seen this film, you really don't know what you're missing. This is Allen's most celebrated masterpiece, and shows Diane Keaton and Woody at their best (Keaton's singing voice is as uplifting as her acting!). The relationship between Alvy Singer and Annie Hall is portrayed with the closest attention to detail, so that whether it is waiting in line to see a movie, buying books for one another, persuading Annie to take up an academic course or photographing Alvy during a very amusing lobster incident, the result is highly effective. You know, it's like the old Groucho Marx joke: "I don't want to join any club that will take me as a member"; this is Alvy's maxim; a man who is never satisfied, but always wants invitations! Annie, the nightclub singer, is, at the same time, just like Alvy and nothing like him - what is it they have in common? The answer is their individuality. From the moment Annie utters her non-sensical phrase, "La Di Da", Alvy is in awe. It is a relationship of mutual appreciation as much as it is companionship. The relationship is doomed to fail, but the journey from friendship to love, and love to friendship, and - guess what? - friendship to love again is compelling to watch. Alvy can't communicate with other women in the way that he does with Annie, to the point that there is no room for laughter: [Alvy] "I haven't been myself since I quit smoking" [Some girl] "O, when did you quit smoking?" [Alvy] "Sixteen years ago" [Some girl] "Wait, I don't get it. Is it a joke?". Well, you decide. This film is one on many levels, with Freudian undertones, and musical overtones, and each viewing is a new experience. What if Annie had married Alvy, for example? Her name would, ironically, be Annie Singer! See this film, or don't call yourself a Woody Allen fan!
Just to add my voice to the choir: Quite simply one of the best films
about romantic relationships ever made. Brilliantly written.
Brilliantly acted -- Diane Keaton is tremendous, the supporting cast is
full of gems and Allen himself takes the leap to present himself as a
real (if funny) human being and not a walking joke. And brilliantly
photographed by the great Gordon Willis of 'The Godfather' and many of
most important films of the 70s and 80s.
Wildly funny and ultimately heartbreaking. It's hard to imagine anyone
who has ever been in love, or struggled through grown-up relationships
NOT identifying with a lot of this film. I loved it in my late teens
when it first came out, and I love it even more 32 years later. Every
time I see it I notice different details, depending on my own current
life experiences. A film of enormous wit, humor, invention, and
understanding of the human heart. Its completely unique, playful and
idiosyncratic in style and approach, but that experimentation somehow
only makes it more accessible and universal. If you haven't seen it,
you owe yourself a try, even if you're not a Woody Allen 'fan'. And if
you saw it long ago, it may be time for another look.
BTW the US, reportedly region free blu-ray is a very nicely done step up.
Is this a reference quality disc that will blow you away? No. But the gains
in depth, clarity, richness give the film more immediacy, and certainly make
the blu-ray worthwhile if you love the film. (Of course, as always
with Woody there still are no extras. Sigh...)
on 4 March 2005
Woody Allen transitioned from a very funny writer/actor/director, to a truly brilliant filmmaker with "Annie Hall." I saw this landmark movie again and was amazed at how well it holds up over time, and how pristine the film looks on DVD. Like Allen's earlier works, this is hilariously funny, but beneath the humor lies a poignant love story of two mismatched, neurotic people. It is a focused film that takes a mature look at modern urban relationships. The witty, clever screenplay is one of the reasons for its enduring popularity, regardless of the audience's demographics.
Alvy Singer, (Woody Allen), is a pessimistic, insecure, angst-ridden, short, Jewish New Yorker, originally from Brooklyn, just like Mr. Allen. Obviously, there are autobiographical elements here. Singer used to be a gag writer for comedians, but made a career decision to do his own comic stand-up routine. When we meet him for the first time, he has already become a star...and is still very neurotic. "Life is full of loneliness, misery, suffering, and unhappiness - and it's all over much too quickly," he says. Singer has a spurt of good luck, however, when he meets ditsy, charming Annie Hall, originally from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Diane Keaton is outstanding in the role - she won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and began a funky clothes trend with her wardrobe that lasted for a few years. If Alvy is New York seeded rye bread, then Annie is a somewhat tightly-wound, Wonder Bread WASP. She actually orders a pastrami sandwich on white bread with mayo in a local deli - that's like ordering fettuccine with ketchup in an Italian trattoria. It's a wonder that when the two have their first conversation they don't go into instant culture shock. Alvy may have poor self esteem, but Annie sure does like him. They appear to be having a wonderful time together too, as in the scene where they chase live lobsters around the kitchen floor, trying to cook a seafood dinner. Alvy's anhedonia, (the inability to enjoy oneself), seems to abandon him temporarily as the romance flourishes.
"Annie Hall" gets much of its comedy from mundane, everyday occurrences. I actually wonder if Jerry Seinfeld didn't derive some inspiration for his hit sitcom from Allen's film. One of the more brilliant scenes occurs when Singer goes to Annie's apartment, for the first time, right after they meet, for a drink and some getting-to-know-you conversation. As they make small talk, sub-titles appear on the screen, stating what the two are actually thinking: Alvy: "I wonder what she looks like naked," Annie: "He's too smart for me; hang in there." There is also an outrageous split screen sequence of Annie and Alvie in therapy sessions, with their respective shrinks, discussing their relationship. His therapist asks if they have sex often, hers asks the same. He replies, "Hardly ever! Maybe three times a week." Annie responds, "Constantly! I'd say three times a week." Also fantastic are the wacky sequences with Annie's Midwestern family, (Colleen Dewhurst is wonderful as Annie's mother, and Christopher Walken, her spooky brother, is beyond weird). Singer comments on how different his Brooklyn family is from her Midwestern relations. Then the screen splits and we see Annie's family talking quietly over dinner, while Alvy's boisterous family, bicker over their Passover meal. As the romance progresses, Alvy's previous relationships with wives numbers 1 and 2 are depicted through a series of flashbacks.
There are problems and rough spots, as with most relationships. Alvy keeps trying to turn Annie into the woman he wants her to be. When he pushes her to go back to college and take some classes, she gains new confidence - and develops a crush on one of her professors. The plot thickens when Annie meets a hit record producer who offers her a job in Los Angeles. Alvy goes along, temporarily, to do a TV special. One of Woody Allen's pet peeves is California, and life on the left coast as compared to life in NYC, so you can bet there is plenty of scathing commentary about Hollywood. Although many know how Annie and Alvy wind up, I won't spoil it for those who don't. However, if you have not seen "Annie Hall," you are really missing something phenomenal. And if you have seen it, and don't have it in your DVD collection, you might want to reconsider.
The film is done in non-linear form, and Allen's use of split screens techniques, animated characters, direct-to-camera narration, and occasional subtitles, are extremely effective, creative and innovative. Allen won Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Actor for "Annie Hall." There are cameos by: Christopher Walken, Shelley Duvall, Carol Kane, Janet Margolin, Marshall MacLuhan, Dick Cavet, John Glover, Jeff Goldblum, Beverly D'Angelo and Sigourney Weaver.
So what is the point of this fabulous movie, besides lots of laughs and terrific acting? Well, Groucho Marx used to say, "I'd never belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member." The primary message here is that to be loved, one has to love oneself first. Of course Woody Allen is also saying that love is annoying and pointless, as are relationships in general - but we need them.
on 15 March 2000
Many Woody Allen fans rate this as his best film, though I think it's pipped at the post by 'Manhattan'. In this film the director plays Alvy Singer, a nervous NYC comedian who falls for the charms of Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). So Woody Allen is playing himself again, and the film seems distinctly autobiographical when you consider that the two stars were a real-life item for many years. The film has some surprising cameos (Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Goldblum and Truman Capote all pop up) and there are some classic bittersweet Allen jokes peppered throughout the script. At one point, Alvy says 'There's an old joke. Two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of them says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know, and such small portions." Well - that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.'