100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Annie Hall”

My wife and I sat down to watch this movie last night not really sure what to expect. My exposure to Woody Allen is decidedly limited as was hers. She took a film class in college in which they apparently discussed this film a bit so she did have some background knowledge going into it. “Annie Hall” was without a doubt a critical success upon its release in 1977. It won four academy awards including picture, director, actress, and was nominated for actor as well. It was the last comedy to win the best picture statue until “Shakespeare in Love”  in 1998. The critically acclaimed comedy is an increasing rarity, so what has made this film stand the test of time and should it continue to do so?

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Should this film be considered a classic? Let me say this, I understand, somewhat, why people hold this film in high regard. The script is intelligent and definitely appeals to a more educated audience than the typical comedic fare. There are many references to psychology, religion, history, politics, and pop culture that would likely go over the head of many a viewer (I don’t claim to be super intelligent, but my college degree from a liberal arts university proved a very useful tool in the viewing of this movie). It was nice to watch a movie that didn’t feel like it had to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the audience. The film also contained a great deal of creative camera work with long takes forcing the viewer to focus more on the characters and less on the changing camera angles.

That said, I can see why many consider this film a classic, but I just have a hard time adding it to my personal list of classic films that I enjoy. Read the next section to see why.

Would I own this film? To paraphrase the statements that my wife and I made after seeing this movie, it’s a selfish, self indulgent, self important, and overly wrought piece of navel gazing tripe. When I watched this movie I didn’t feel like I was watching Alvy Singer, I felt like I was watching Woody Allen share his philosophy on life and relationships and for the most part I found it a total bore and a bit sad that a person could actually think that way. So, no, I wouldn’t own this movie. I can see why people find it appealing, but at the same time I can’t get past how self indulgent and preachy this movie comes off at times. Maybe the reason why this film endures is because the intellectual comedy is a truly rare beast but if all intellectual comedies look like “Annie Hall” I have no problem with them staying on the endangered species list.

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