Friday, March 16, 2007

30 Years Of Annie Hall

Annie Hall isn't my favorite Woody Allen film, although I don't think it is a bad choice as one. I would probably take Hannah and Her Sisters or Manhattan over it but Annie Hall is the one film Woody Allen has made in his career that everyone seems to agree on. It is also the film that introduced me to the wonderful, and sometimes frustrating, world of Woody Allen.
This ode to a failed but ultimately memorable relationship won 4 1977 Academy awards including Picture, Screenplay, Director and Diane Keaton won for Best Actress. Woody Allen was even nominated for Best Actor but lost to Richard Dreyfuss.
It is fitting that some of my finest, and most vivid, memories of Annie Hall involve girls in my life. I have found that inevitably my love for Woody Allen will always come up in a relationship and Annie Hall is always the film I show as an introduction and explanation. I have yet to have shown the film to someone that didn't love it as it almost plays like a virtual greatest hits movie. Annie Hall is a film with so many memorable moments that I am always struck upon each new viewing by a moment where I will think, "wow, that scene is from this film too". Everything from the Marshall McLuhan cameo to the lobster scene to the subtitled thoughts moment to the Christopher Walken and Shelly Duval sections are here. The film almost feels like part of my DNA and has come to play a major part in my life, it is almost like pulling out an old family photo album to show someone where I came from.
I think one thing that makes Annie Hall so special is that it is the film where Woody Allen perfectly melds together his more 'serious' cinema with his earlier 'funny' films. It is a more grown up work than Bananas but it isn't as bitter as Stardust Memories. It marks a perfect moment for not only Woody Allen but for many of its fans.
Putting all of its most famous moments aside the film fittingly belongs to the enigmatic Diane Keaton. It is often forgotten just how wonderful an actress Keaton is, consider the fact that she made Annie Hall the same year as the viciously disturbing Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Annie Hall is also the character that she has never quite recovered from, for many of us and perhaps for Ms. Keaton herself she will never be more sublime and perfect as she was in this film. The moment towards the end where she sings Seems Like Old Times is one of the most moving and cemented images in film history, and it still tears me up every time I see it.
Many film fans think that Star Wars should have won best picture for 1977 and I have had several arguments with some of them over the years. I still love Star Wars but for all that film meant to me as a youth Annie Hall has meant even more to me as an adult.
Woody Allen has made many films since Annie Hall, some great and some not. Annie Hall remains, if not his great work, his most endearing. For her 30th birthday I send her good wishes and thanks for a dream she continues to whisper.

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