Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Retro Review: ANNIE HALL (1977)

Welcome to another installment of RETRO REVIEW where we take a trip back in time to look at films made before the year 2000.  Today we review Woody Allen's 1977 romantic comedy, ANNIE HALL.  Enjoy!

Brilliant. Written and directed by the incomparable Woody Allen, and co-written by Marshall Brickman, Annie Hall is definitely one of the, if not the best rom-com ever made...Even though I wouldn't necessarily call it a rom-com. I mean, is it romantic, sure, is it funny, very much so, yes, but it is also a film that can kind of rewire one's thoughts on relationships, love and so on, which can be quite heavy. Though, I also wouldn't call it a drama, or even a dramedy...Let's say it is in it's own genre, say... Woodyland?

And within Woodyland, there are some great sights, such as Diane Keaton's wonderful performance as the title character Annie Hall, who is lovable, relatable, and dressed to perfection. Seriously, whoever was responsible for choosing Annie Hall's wardrobe, bravo, bravo. And Woody Allen also delivers a fantastic performance, nailing every bit of dialogue the guy spits out, and maybe that is because he wrote it himself, though I couldn't imagine Tarantino delivering the lines of The Bride in Kill Bill, as well as Woody does here.

The structure, I loved, but it does take a minute or two to truly get in that non-linear focus mindset, but I love those kinds of off the wall choices in film, and encourage that directors do it more often. But not as a gimmick, as a genuine creative choice, and in Annie Hall it fits, and pays off.

The supporting cast is full of great character actors such as Carol Kane, Shelley Duvall, Tony Roberts, and even Paul Simon has a role, which was awesome! And he actually gives one of the better singer-turned actor performances.

Also, for the small role he has, Christopher Walken is hilariously unsettling. That moment in the car, where Alvy is practically shitting himself at the thought that Walken's character might drive him, Alvy and Annie off the road, is just side-splittingly funny, and Allen's face in that scene is priceless!
Speaking of Alvy, some might hate his character, and I get that, he is a bit of a prick. He's selfish, annoying, always self-deprecating yet is also condescending, he's clingy yet a commitment phobe etc. etc. etc., but he is authentic, and very real.

Guess what? There are dicks out there in the world, and Alvy is one of them, but he is also written in a way that I do find myself, being sympathetic towards him, and it kind of helps that I myself, am mildly (slight understatement) neurotic, nervous on a regular basis, afraid of a lot of things, and have attachment issues, so maybe I find a level of relatability and therefore sympathize with him more than others.

I also relate to Annie, who just wants to achieve her dreams, have fun and find herself...I mean, don't we all. And one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when she calls Alvy over to kill the spider in her bathroom, and that is so authentic to real life, and how people act. I mean, how many times has someone called someone, or asked someone for help over something relatively meaningless, just to have that person be around you? I think we all have in one way or another.

Listen... I loved Annie Hall, and after being hyped for years and watching it now for the first time, it did reach my expectations... But I have two problems with it...Such as...The dodgems/Alvy crashing his car, which I found that to be a little on the nose. You didn't have to cut back and fourth between the dodgems, and the bad driving in the parking lot, you could've let the audience put the pieces together, and create a nice little link. And my second problem is a lesser one, and might just be on me, but I thought there was some inconsistent timeline stuff going on with the character of Rob, and maybe someone could enlighten me on this, and if so, flaw retracted, but his relocation to Los Angeles, and the first scene he is in with Alvy...What comes first in the timeline? Those, to be honest, are my only flaws with Annie Hall, and that last flaw could be retracted on revisit's to the film, or someone informing me of the Rob timeline etc.

All in all, Annie Hall (see what I did there) is an instant favorite of mine. Brilliantly written and directed, superbly acted by Allen, Keaton and the rest of the cast, hilarious lines of dialogue, thought provoking perspectives on love, relationships etc., and just outright funny!

Sammy's Score: 9/10

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