Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Honey, there's a spider in your bathroom the size of a Buick." FOTM: ANNIE HALL

I’m breaking the rules here a little bit because for this Feature of the Month assignment we are supposed to talk about a past Best Picture winner that we had never seen before that we recently watched. Well, the film I’m going to talk about I probably saw at least a year ago, if not longer and since then I’ve seen several other Best Picture winners such as IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (Totally deserving of all the love it gets) and several others, but out of all of them the one that struck me the most and still sticks with me to this day is a film that had to fight an uphill battle into my heart right from the very beginning. Not only could it be classified as a “Romantic Comedy”, one of my most accursed film genres but like THE HURT LOCKER and AVATAR it’s the little film that came out of nowhere and slew the giant, it was the David to one of, if not THE biggest Goliath of all time. It is Woody Allen’s stunningly brilliant ANNIE HALL.

For the longest time I resented the crap out of this movie because to me, no matter what it will always be the film that beat out STAR WARS for the Best Picture Oscar. So great was my resentment that I never even bothered to see this movie up until a little while ago. As soon as I did I immediately understood why this film has achieved that level of acclaim.

One of the reasons I hate most romantic comedies is because they don’t try, they all fit with a pat, predictable formula and very often they’re not even attempting to engage the reader on any other level than a cute, fuzzy, sentimental one. That is what makes ANNIE HALL so awesome and refreshing, it is a movie that digs deep into people, their relationships and the things that spring out of those relationships, those things that effect us in a way that almost no other human experience can. In fact when one takes a step back and looks at ANNIE HALL it is understandable if some have a hard time classifying as a romantic comedy at all. I think to call it a comedy / drama about life and love might be a much more accurate, yet long winded genre description.

One of my favorite movies of last year and perhaps the last few years was 500 DAYS OF SUMMER but I’ll be the first to admit (As would the film makers) that it would never exist if Woody Allen hadn’t blazed such a unique, brutally honest path across the cinematic landscape all those years ago. In fact I’d venture to say any truly smart, sophisticated stab at the oft tired story telling pattern of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, from WHEN HARRY MET SALLY to television shows like HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER has at least some small debt of gratitude to pay to Woody Allen’s classic.

My sister says that she thinks ANNIE HALL is quite literally a perfect film and I’m inclined to agree with her. Woody Allen has made a lot of movies, some good, some bad but far and away this is his masterpiece. I don’t think there is a single solitary thing I would change about this film. It is one of the VERY few movies that is flawless. The film is small and intimate, yet completely universal. It is a master class in writing, directing and everything else in between. I still like STAR WARS more than this film but there’s no denying it as an American classic worthy of every single shred of praise it receives.


Megan said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If I needed an example of a utterly perfect film my choice would be Annie Hall. It's not my favorite film, or a film I want to watch constantly but even if you don't like it you will be hard pressed to disagree that it is a great film from start to finish that is a shining example of art and craftsmanship. Not a frame is out of place.

Adam said...

I'd considered writing about this one myself. I'm astounded at the way that, even though it's often recognized as the quintessential romantic comedy, almost no current romcoms follow its example. It rings true about relationships in a way that few other films ever have, well, at least the films I've seen. It's one of Woody's finest films, although as great as Annie Hall is (and it is GREAT), I still believe that Hannah and Her Sisters is the best film he ever made.

Jonah Falcon said...

I'd say Manhattan was a better film than Annie Hall, but it was seriously overshadowed by Hall.