Thursday, January 26, 2012

Annie Hall (1977)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, rented from the Tisch Library at Tufts.

You may recall last Friday I put up three posters I'd made recently for an etsy commission. One of them was for Annie Hall, a film I hadn't seen in a while and re-watched for design ideas. Often considered one of Woody Allen's greatest successes, the film flits into and around the relationship of neurotic (duh) comedian Alvy (Allen) and scatterbrained singer Annie (Diane Keaton). Narrating with self-aware assurance and nervous jokes, Alvy relates the story of his romance with Annie, and in turn we learn of his two failed marriages and various other memories and side-stories. Everyone learns the important lesson that LA is for wackos.

Essentially composing a portrait of a man through his experiences with women- past and present- Annie Hall is notable more for its clever nonlinear storytelling techniques and funny dialogue than for its actual narrative. I love the fourth-wall-breaking moments as Alvy complains to the audience about pretentious filmgoers and not getting enough sex. Allen's easygoing, off the cuff comedic style is well-suited to such a loose story, with a number of hilarious conversations between various characters that feel silly but natural. Keaton is a great foil for Allen, filling in his quick, not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is quips with goofy lingo and brash observations. Plus, her style is rad as we all know (no need for a costumer when your own wardrobe is already that cool).

There are still some of the typical Woody Alleny things that I have never much like about his movies, mainly his depiction of women. Alvy is typically shown as smarter or more likable than most of the women in this movie, yet I usually wonder why any of them are dating him since he's so self-centered. But I like that Annie eventually stops putting up with his bullshit and chooses a path for herself, and that Alvy comes to appreciate her as a person by the end.

And just as a side note, I have so much fun with the shit ton of famous people who pop up in this movie, even a few small roles for not-yet-known actors. Carol Kane, Christopher Walken, Shelley Duvall, John Glover, Paul Simon, Jeff Goldblum (!), and an impossible-to-identify Sigourney Weaver!


Pair This Movie With: Well, I'm thinking Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for another nonlinear look into a doomed relationship. But 8 1/2 was also suggested by Nuts4r2.

My original poster design for this film is available for purchase.


  1. Wait smarter or more likeable than the women? I don't know about that. He's completely neurotic and rather pathetic IMO. Keaton comes off great I think.

  2. Jon: Specifically I'm thinking of his second wife, who drags him to that intellectual party and comes off as cold and opportunistic while Alvy is cracking jokes and trying to watch the football game. And Shelley Duvall's character is overly-ditzy and silly, as are several of the other women he meets briefly. At first Alvy comes off as smarter than Annie (he definitely thinks he is) but like I said by the end she gets over his bullshit and does her own thing, which I like about her.

  3. Your choice of image reminds me that Woody's in the Oscar race along with Bergman regular Max von Sydow this year. One can't help but wonder what Woody thinks of that.

  4. It's odd that you say that about him coming off better than the women, because I always thought that Alvy's issue was that he was somewhat emotionally stunted...all the women kept growing out of him. Although I do understand your point, a bit.