Hello people, this is Part 5 of my Greatest Directors series, in particular focusing on incredibly seminal satirical comedy auteur Woody Allen. After trawling through some of the film’s that started Woody Allen’s career, finally we reach a real turning point in his career, 6 years down from his first solo Directing debut Bananas (1971) we take a look at the film that got critical acclaim for Allen, the one that put him on the map so to speak. At least for a little while, I can’t really judge this is all written as I discover it. So, Annie Hall (1977) is a satirical comedy, starring Woody Allen himself in the title role, along side Diane Keaton. This is an important thing to mention, as together they star in this, and Woody’s preceding 2 films, and Play it Again, Sam (1972), as a result by the time Annie Hall’s released quite a serious romantic drama, the chemistry is really solidified, it feels as if they’re reading off the script a lot of time, and Diane Keaton and Woody Allen are only good actors, not fantastic so the real chemistry between the two characters in Annie Hall is nice to see.
The narrative follows Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) as he recounts his romance and time spent with Photographer and singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). It’s sort of a recount, as the first shot we get is Alvy addressing the audience in close-up, talking about how he’s had many marriages but his romance with Annie Hall reigns above the others, and how he can’t stop thinking about it as he recounts the story. The story’s told in vague chronological order, but has flashbacks to kind of flesh-out the characters showing numerous stages in their relationship. Showing as their an established couple with problems first, flashing back to how they first met, and how they grew from then on, inevitably building until they part ways, and remain friends. The use of shifting the chronology, but using it logically to really contrast different points in the relationship, like the early loving stage, the routine, the break-up is really effective, and relate-able to the relationships we’ve all been in. At points it also has split-shots for example contrasting Alvy and Annie’s families, or contrasting how Alvy once believed school was important, and then denouncing it as a joke, the ultimate statement that people change constantly. The real effectiveness comes at the end of the story, when the storytelling makes you realize that the two characters we once knew are now completely contrasting people.
The humor in Annie Hall is slightly different from the medium he’s established in the 4 films I’ve watched prior to this of his, and at the point I last reviewed Love and Death I thought of it as incredibly formulaic. There isn’t as much stupid slapstick, him being strangled by a hose, his weapons disassembling in his hands, slip-slapping around being all funny-like, it’s very much a serious tone, for a movie that has serious moments mixed with some really smart, high-brow literary gags as opposed to the latter audiences were probably used to. In addition there’s a lot of moments where he just takes the audience to the side, and talks to them, adding to what’s happening in the scene which really adds a characteristic to the narrator of the story, makes it feel unique and personal which is odd really. It feels personal even though he’s addressing the audience which usually breaks any idea of theatrical elements, however Woody Allen on screen is always a likable character and it’s hard to not think of him as a friend when he addresses you in such in a jovial fashion.
Annie Hall was certainly praised at that year’s oscars gaining 4 awards in total, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and of course Best Actress for miss Diane Keaton. Thing is, Annie Hall certainly doesn’t feel like a best picture film, if anyone understands what I mean by this. I think it’s because it took a very dull genre that hadn’t been explored incredibly well by that point in time (Romantic Comedy) and gave it depth, gave it cinematic insight on many levels with two characters that felt unmistakably human. That’s really a hard sell in the genre, giving you a man and a woman, a romance that’s believable, and ultimately flawed because that’s what hooks audiences in, I mean sure some people do just want the happy ending ala Tim Robbins in The Player (1992), but every stage felt incredibly real, and the dialogue was at a level of Allen’s humor where it was still witty, satirical, and pulled off 3rd wall gags, but it still maintained the overall pace and composure of the film. Compared to Sleeper, or Love and Death where it just got awfully tedious towards the end, and kind of forgot themselves as films.
As for Allen, seeing Bananas, Love and Death, the absurdly long one about sex, and Sleeper, I’m not entirely surprised to see a really well-written, well thought out film like Annie Hall in his filmography. He certainly had the potential, and the knowledge of the cinematic elements given his heavy use of homage and reference. However, it makes me incredibly curious to see what happens next with Interiors (1978) given a lot of things I’ve read about it bill it as ‘Ill received’, or ‘imperfect’ and some jargon about it being rushed, and incredibly confused. A lot of people regard Annie Hall as the peak of Allan’s career, some judge it as a turning point. Needless, I look forward as always as I leave you now with often praised scene with an odd cameo from Film and Communications critic Marshall McLuhan. Until next time, you can follow me on Twittor @Sams_Reel_Views and I would appreciate it if you like/follow/comment if you like what you saw. Adios!
Annie Hall (1977) is a satirical romantic comedy from witty auteur Woody Allen. The film feels like a last hurrah in some ways, given his filmography and the very artistic direction he took following the success of Annie Hall. The film follows a comedian who recalls one of the greatest loves of his life, and how he fears he may never be able to forget her. Woody Allen stars as his comedic persona once again, alongside long time collaborator Diane Keaton. The story is told in a very vivid, and complex way as to make it feel a lot more fluid and snappy as opposed to melodramatic. I’m not so certain about Annie Hall’s conclusion in the Top 250. I can see it’s appeal, and how it it’s kind of the pinnacle of the rom-com. However I feel mostly opposed to it, just because some of Allen’s other work has so much more soul. I suppose that’s just personal bias.
Judgment – Debatable