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79 of 85 found the following review helpful:
Annie Hall has truly stood the test of time. And I loved it May 14, 2004
By Linda Linguvic
I have a confession to make.
Until now, I've never seen a Woody Allen movie.
Boy, I sure was a "miss out".
Annie Hall, made in 1977, is a classic. Why, oh why, did I wait so long?
First of all it's a story, and a very funny story at that, about a New York Jewish comedian, played by Woody Allen and his WASP girlfriend, played by Diane Keaton. It pokes fun at many social mores that we take for granted and I found myself laughing throughout. There's the New Yorker who never learns to drive, the mid-westerner who orders a pastrami sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise (which seems almost grotesque to a New Yorker like me), the pretentious movie critic, the neuroses of modern romances, and the differences between the New York and Los Angeles way of life.
The film runs along at such a fast pace that there is almost no time at all between funny moments. And, to make it even better, there are some wonderful film techniques. For example, while Diane Keaton and Woody Allen are talking about photography, there are subtitles on the screen about the physical relationship that they are really thinking about.
If the film were made today the phone calls would have been made on cell phones. But surprisingly, that is the only detail that might be changed. Annie Hall has really truly stood the test of time. And I loved it.
28 of 28 found the following review helpful:
Quintessential Woody. Jul 10, 2002
*Annie Hall* is a movie that a critic could love. Its hero, Alvy Singer (Allen), though apparently a professional comedian, is really more of a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week critic of everything he encounters: the Seventies drug culture, pretentious loudmouths, Los Angeles, WASPs from the Midwest, anti-Semites, Bob Dylan, aging hippies, and -- most important for getting on film critics' good side -- himself. (The constant cinematic references, such as *Snow White*, Fellini, Bergman, *The Sorrow and the Pity*, et al., also endear Allen to the critics . . . and to the overall movie-lover, as well.) In and around all this, the film tells the story of a mismatched relationship between neurotic, intellectual New Yorker Alvy and Wisconsin transplant Annie Hall (Diane Keaton, in an excellent performance). The details of the relationship are delineated with aching realism: the tentative getting-to-know-you stage, the petulant break-ups, the warm making-ups, the mundanities (like getting rid of spiders in bathtubs), the arguments, the hilarious private moments that can't be repeated with anyone else (like their attempt to cook some lobsters), the boredom, and finally the wearing-out of the whole thing. This is all superbly done . . . but even better are Allen's incessant, razor-sharp wisecracks that put the America of 1977 firmly in its self-obsessed place. For instance, his take on the Studio 54 culture that was happening in New York is summed up in a sneeze . . . that blows thousands of dollars of cocaine airily away. The West Coast nonsense is perhaps best captured in the snapshot scene of Jeff Goldblum on the phone: "I forgot my mantra." And Allen's jokes about turning right at a red light in California, and masturbation being sex with someone he loves, have permanently entered our language. Instead of dating the film, these observations make it more of a humorous time-capsule full of the detritus of a silly era. The restlessly inventive narrative structure that uses split-screen, flashbacks, scenes that have one character as both child and adult at the same time, even animation, is gravy on your mashed potatoes.
38 of 41 found the following review helpful:
Continually rewarding, ever funny, rich and warm. Buy It! Apr 25, 2005
By B. Marold
"Bruce W. Marold"
`Annie Hall', directed by Woody Allen and written by Allen and Marshall Brickman is eminently rewatchable, which is the one quality that makes it an excellent DVD purchase. I have seen this movie at least a half dozen times, and I am still discovering interesting things in the film. What makes this so odd to me is that the first time I saw it, after having seen `Manhattan', I really did not think it was as good as the later film.
My initially low opinion of the movie was primarily due to the numerous cinematic gimmicks harking back to his earlier, plainly less thoughtful movies. These include flashbacks to dopey teachers and classmates, almost as a parody of Jean Shepherd; subtitles showing what the characters are really thinking of one another during a conversation; a cartoon segment where Allen and the Tony Roberts character appear with the wicked witch from Snow White; speeches to the audience; and the most famous, a surprise appearance by Marshall McCluhan in a movie theatre lobby to refute a college instructor pontificating about McCluhan's ideas.
The single most famous scene from the movie is the encounter between Allen's character, Alvy Singer and Annie Hall, played brilliantly by Diane Keaton, after their tennis match with Annie dressed in her classic layered look with vest, men's tie, and balloonish trousers. The great sound bite from this encounter is the Annie Hall exclamation `La Di Dah, La Di Dah, Dah Dah...' and Singer's reaction wondering how he could be interested in anyone making such silly exclamations. From this one scene came a whole late 1970's fashion trend, the `Annie Hall' look of layered, mannish clothes. This scene also sets the stage for my latest insight into the movie, which is the progression of Annie, with a lot of help from Alvy, from an unserious girl with a decent singing voice to a serious woman with a few good ideas and a connection to a serious Hollywood music personality, played convincingly by Paul Simon with an eye to having her performances commercially recorded.
While so much can be said of the loves, frustrations, and disappointments of Alvy Singer, the movie is, after all, named `Annie Hall', not `Alvy Singer'. Not to say that this incarnation of the Woody Allen fictional persona is not central to the story. In the story of Alvy Singer that frames our encounter with Annie, there are encounters with two early marriages to characters played by Carol Kane and Janet Margolin, plus less than exciting romantic encounters with Shelley Duvall. The Allen talent for pulling in major actors and future major actors for brief appearances is in full bloom. There are excellent little parts for Colleen Dewhurst and Christopher Walken. There are even smaller parts for surprise appearances by Jeff Goldblum, Sigourney Weaver, and Beverly De'Angelis. Just as Allen is playing his usual, highly autobiographical character, male costar Tony Roberts plays the typically untroubled successful male who is constantly on the make for something or other, whether it be a business deal of a romantic laision. (It just occurred to me that it is logical that Roberts did not play the male costar in `Manhattan', as the Michael Murphy character simply did not fit the typical Tony Roberts character as it appears in `Play It Again, Sam', `A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy', and `Annie Hall'.
While I have not reviewed all of Allen's later movies, I will venture the opinion that not only is `Annie Hall' better than all the films which precede it, it is as good or better than his best later movies (such as `Hannah and Her Sisters', `Crimes and Misdemeanors', and `Husbands and Wives'), if only because it is so effective a mix of both character study and humor. Some of Allen's jokes from this movie are some of his best known. In fact, I get the same sense watching this movie as I do when I see `Hamlet'. So many lines sound like clichés because they have been so widely quoted.
There are a lot of things which could be said about this movie which are really about themes which run through almost all of Allen's films such as doting on sexuality, phony intellectuality, love of Manhattan, and death. One clever riff on death is when Annie is moving into Alvy's apartment, Alvy discovers a book of Sylvia Plath's poems, which contradicts Hall's later statement when she is moving out that all the books about death were given to her by Singer. (Plath was a famously depressive poet who committed suicide in mid-career).
Allen's movie DVDs are uniformly free of fancy extras such as commentary tracks and `Making of' documentaries, and this is no exception. At the risk of repeating myself, I will say that the singular attraction of Allen's body of work in general and `Annie Hall' in particular is its rewatchability. As unrealistic as the many cinematic gimmicks are, the characters are intensely real. They are people with which we can sincerely associate. Try that with your usual Ben Stiller character.
Highly recommended classic among both Allen movies and all movies in general.
9 of 10 found the following review helpful:
Love and loss in Manhattan. Nov 22, 2001
By darragh o'donoghue
'Annie Hall' has been called the first modern romantic comedy, but it is actually the ultimate anti-romantic comedy. Where the movement of the classic rom-com is the union of two mismatched lovers, the kiss, marriage - a forward movement which is' in effect' sexual sublimation - 'Annie Hall' begins with its romance's break-up, and proceeds with a vignette narrative structure, in which time and space are fragmented: far from gathering any momentum, the film, with is modest highs and lows, kind of peters out, just like romance in real-life.
'Annie Hall' is, as everyone knows, the first truly great Woody Allen movie. All the cherishable elements from his previous films are here - the nervy wisecracks (which, far from containing life's anguish, seem to helplessly acknowledge the impossibility of ever doing so); the visual and narrative trickery; the flippant allusions etc. - but are given depth and feeling by the focus on character. The opening monologue sets the tone - Alvy's stand-up routine (an address to the public) as confession (private): this is a relationship constantly being pushed into social situations (family, parties, night classes etc.).
The movements through time and space, the documentary feel for real locations, the recognition of the emotional import of seemingly trivial events, all combine to create a complex picture of people alive and in love in a particular place and time. In the case of Alvy especially, these elements serve to reveal the character his joking is at pains to deflect.
The film is the closest American film every came to the spontaneity of the French New Wave, without being cripplingly self-conscious about it - the inventive chopping between visual registers and narrative moods; the romanticising of city life; the seemingly casual, but crucial and resonant, allusions to films, books, music etc.; the satire of cultural pretensions; above all, the very modern, elusive relationship at its centre - all creating a film as fresh, funny and poignant as the day it was made, one done a great disservice by its sappy imitators. Diane Keaton has rarely been more enchanting, the fluidity between herself and her character so evident, she seems to be laughing with us at the film she's in.
6 of 6 found the following review helpful:
An all time great, now finally on blu-ray Jun 19, 2010
By K. Gordon
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.
For some insane reason, the US DVD is not enhanced for 16x9 TVs,
whereas the UK disc is, so if you have a region free player, and don't
want the blu-ray for some reason I recommend getting a copy of that.
But the blu-ray is a very nicely done step up (especially over the
non anamorphic US DVD). 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 are no extras. Sigh...)
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