Annie Hall (Blu-ray)
Revered as Woody Allen’s breakthrough movie, ANNIE HALL lived up to all of the hype by earning four Academy Awards in 1978, including “Best Picture,” “Best Actress” for Diane Keaton, “Best Directing” for Allen as well as “Original Screenplay.” With such praise from the industry, it was clear that Allen had successfully transitioned from his previous genre of campy comedy into serious filmmaker.
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is a twitchy, anxious, neurotic guy who just happens to be Manhattan’s most popular stand-up comedic. He’s extremely opinionated, pokes fun at his own Jewish heritage and possesses an honesty that is somehow both uncomfortable yet equally refreshing. When his good friend introduces him to quirky, free-spirited Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), the audience is treated to the ins and outs of one nervous romantic comedy.
The beauty of ANNIE HALL is how well Allen relates all of the characters and their scenarios to circumstances and emotions most of the audience has probably experienced. Alvy is the curious, dorky guy whose whit and honesty land him the girl. His feet are firmly planted on the ground, forever in New York to be exact, and her head is permanently in the clouds. These two different worlds collide and we find he is a good anchor for her while she provides spontaneity for him. Opposites have one again proved that they are willing to attract.
Allen’s entire screenplay is a series of flashbacks in which viewers find themselves peering in on Alvy as a young boy in one moment and then developing a relationship with Annie in the next moment. Although it was not presented chronologically, it’s easy to follow the details of this couple and appreciate how the story unfolds little by little, revealing more into the past and future of Alvy and Annie.
Allen also constantly breaks the “fourth wall” of the stage by not only looking directly at the audience, but speaking as well, as he works out a frustration with whatever is currently going on in the scene. In one conversation with Annie and Alvy, Allen provides sub-titles so the audience knows what the two are really thinking verses what they are saying. On occasion, he also has his characters magically present in past flashbacks or pulled aside to watch what’s currently going on in present life. Again, these unconventional moments provided whole hearted truths that we may have been forced to assume had the “watery” version not said what everyone was actually thinking in the audience.
ANNIE HALL’s shooting method was also extremely interesting. Allen would shoot very long takes, allowing the actors to improv and provide raw, real-life performances. This gave several of the scenes a relaxed, believable feel, closely resembling actors on a stage instead of a silver screen.
ANNIE HALL is not your typical romantic comedy that we all come to expect from a Nicholas Sparks adapted screenplay. Alvy does not physically resemble a Prince Charming-type. In fact, Diane Keaton often dressed more like a man than he did! But it’s a true picture of how relationships are wonderful and wonderfully complicated.
Video: 1080p High Definition: Allen’s unconventional shooting methods were particularly evident while watching in HD. I remember thinking about how the scene hadn’t cut or switched points of view and the dialog had been going on for a least a minute. I began looking for other examples after the first discovery.
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio: The subtitled parts were really well done. It was easy to pay attention to the train of thought while reading what Annie and Alvy were really thinking. Brilliant move by Allen.