Movies You Should See #1: Annie Hall • directed by Woody Allen
For a very long time I had an aversion to Woody Allen. I’m not quite sure how I came about this aversion seeing as I’d never seen a full Woody Allen film, so I must have absorbed someone else’s opinion when I was young, but I managed to get into film school having never seen a Woody Allen film. This isn’t too shocking, he’s not exactly required curriculum. What was shocking was the girl in one of my film classes who by the time we were doing our upper division classes had never seen Citizen Kane or 2001 - I once saw Citizen Kane in three separate classes in the same semester, it’s kind of a big deal, but Woody Allen was just beloved, not required viewing. This is a long way of saying that people would bring up Woody Allen to me and I would simply sigh and say the same repeated line over again in my head - how could Annie Hall beat Star Wars for best picture. I mean, that’s kind of a valid point. Star Wars is global, and still going strong; almost everyone has seen it and I would venture a guess that far fewer people have seen Annie Hall. Now we come to the point where I finally caved and decided that I needed to see some classic Woody Allen, and because I adore Diane Keaton I began with Annie Hall.
From the very opening of this film I was mesmerized, by the end my mind was blown. Absolutely blown. This IS a PERFECT film. I do not say that lightly because in actuality, I believe there are very few perfect films. A director cannot set out to make one, it simply happens. And this is it. This film deserved it’s best picture Oscar, it deserves to still be talked about, it deserves to continue to make waves for generations of filmmakers and viewers that experience it.
Like any Allen film, there’s a slightly illusive quality to Annie Hall. You do get the feeling that Allen is equally as inspired by his actors as his story, but where this might make a lesser filmmaker falter and sacrifice plot for performance, it only makes Annie Hall stronger. This film lives and breathes on the neuroses behind Annie and Alvy.
Annie Hall is more than notable. If I were to teach a film course, this film would be required viewing. It is a lesson in directing, performance, editing, writing and overall filmmaking. This film is incapable of hitting a foul note and that makes it a film that continues to stay strong with age.
I have yet to see all of Allen’s filmography, but I’ve greatly expanded my study of his works since viewing Annie Hall and I am so glad I have. He is a writer and director that has a voice, knows what he wants and has a unique way of looking at the world. That is something that needs to be spread in a day and age of cookie-cutter cinema.