Thursday, November 11, 2010

Annie Hall

Annie Hall is the quintessential Woody Allen movie. One might argue that it is the first Woody Allen movie. Here, I'll argue it.

When I say it is the first Woody Allen movie, it is like saying a story by Kafka is Kafkaesque. It goes beyond the mere fact that it was made by the person and instead indicates that it has all the inherent aspects of everything we have come to know about them and their worldview. Annie Hall is the archetype from which the rest of Woody Allen's career will flow. It has the sucessful urban intellectual, the failed romance with a younger female, the male confidant. For the first time he is taking himself, his material and filmmaking seriously. Of course, his previous movies were good. But they felt like jokes. Even Love and Death, which was really well-made, at times felt more like a vehicle for laughs. Annie Hall is a funny movie. I think it's usually found in the comedy section. But I think of it more as a drama. Because the jokes are services to the plot and not the other way around. I think the people at the Academy Awards must have known these things even then, because Annie Hall is Woody Allen's only Oscar best picture win.

Despite all of the above, I don't like it as much as everyone else seems to. I felt it lost steam about the time Paul Simon comes on the screen and never regains it.

At the end of the movie, Alvie Singer (Woody Allen's character) has just lost what was probably his one true love. He writes an autobiographical play about it and at the end of the play the two main characters make up and stay together. "You're always trying to get things to come out perfectly in art, because it's real difficult in life," Allen says. Which is strange because Annie Hall is Woody Allen's art form but he doesn't make it end up with the traditionally perfect ending of boy gets girl.

I think that ideally, Annie Hall is a really good movie, maybe a perfect movie. I just prefer watching some of his other ones.

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