Aug 31, 2012

[Movies] Annie Hall (1977)

I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Woody Allen movies. On the one hand, I have to acknowledge that he does make good movies and he's gotten a lot of acclaim from fans and critics alike. On the other hand, he can get rather annoying with his rather neurotic (or highly Jewish?) way of talking or writing narrative paths that can get tiring over time. I can handle Woody Allen movies one at a time but I don't think I will ever be ready to watch a marathon of his movies in succession.

But one thing or another led me to wanting to finally watch this movie. It's the classic case of knowing how many people rave about it, having seen snippets of it while channel surfing and yet never sitting down to watch the whole thing from start to finish. We add such movies to our never ending bucket list of movies that you'll want to eventually watch and yet they languish there for far too long.

One thing led to another and reading another article led me to wanting to finally get this movie off of my list. I will mark the beginning of a number of future Woody Allen movie reviews as I continue to work through my queue. Just don't except them on a weekly basis just yet despite his voluminous body of work.

Synopsis: Annie Hall is a 1977 romantic comedy of sorts written and directed by Woody Allen together with co-screenwriter Marshall Brickman. The movie won four Academy Awards, namely Best Picture and Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress.

The movie centers around comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) as he processes why his relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) ended. Starting with flashes of his childhood and then jumping from moment to moment in his life with Annie, we slowly get a better idea of how they developed and how they eventually grew apart, with Alvy annotating the tale from time to time.

The story focuses on key moments in their lives - which would make sense since this is how we tell stories to our friends. We highlight key events that seem particularly memorable in our minds and focus the story that way. And that's part of what made this all feel so casual. Well that and how Allen breaks the fourth wall regularly with his asides and side explanations of why things were the way they were. But that's Woody Allen for you.

When you think about it, the movie is practically told from a first person perspective - in this case Alvy. He is our companion on this journey and thus one could argue that we are only seeing the story of their relationship solely from his perspective. The fact that it's a movie lulls us into the sense of thinking it's being presented from an independent observer but Alvy's ability to address the audience and even pull in expert characters to refute other characters reminds you that he's in full control of this story. And that presents a unique perspective for the whole piece that keeps things distinct an quirkily interesting.

The story does leave you wanting to re-rewatch certain scenes in order to review what had just been said. Allan has quite a number of witty one-liners and zingers that aren't just funny but also interesting, meaningful or just fun to dissect. And these are the sorts oft hings that you can only truly process with repeat viewings of the movie as you go from point to point. And yes, I do see myself actually spending time doing just that soon enough.

Annie Hall is a unique movie experience that sets it apart from many others. It's a romantic comedy that doesn't make you roll in the aisles laughing but it does leave you smiling at the right moments. Thus I rate it 4.5 4th wall moments out of a possible 5.

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