The film is about Alvy Singer, a comedian living in New York, and his troubled relationship with the unique Annie Hall. IMDB describes her as "ditzy", which I guess is true. The whole film is mostly talking, with narration from Alvy himself. Alvy often breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to viewers, and sometimes, other characters notice this and join in. This is one of the many really awesome stylistic choices in the film. Even though there is so much talking, it doesn't feel boring or slow at all.
I found it so fun to watch because of all of the witty dialogue. Anthony and I were laughing so much during this movie! The dialogue is so great, but it also has so many interesting references - to Fellini, to Truman Capote (who appears as himself as Alvy declares "Oh, there's the winner of the Truman Capote Look-Alike Contest"), and so on. I really liked that aspect of the movie, because not only did it make me feel snobbish and self-important, it it's also really rare to see a movie that uses anything other than pop culture references. My friend Alex, a fellow film nerd, came with me and Anthony one night to go see Superbad. None of us really liked it, but there was one joke about Orson Welles, which I can't remember or care about now. After we heard it, we all laughed loudly, and then sheepishly realized we were the only ones in the theater laughing.
Ebert mentions the strength of the references as well, writing, "Consider the famous sequence where Annie and Alvy are standing in line for the movies and the blowhard behind them pontificates loudly about Fellini. When the pest switches over to McLuhan, Alvy loses patience, confronts him, and then triumphantly produces Marshall McLuhan himself from behind a movie poster to inform him, "You know nothing of my work!" This scene would be penciled out today on the presumption that no one in the audience would have heard of Fellini or McLuhan" (Great Movies II, 30). I know for sure that no jokes like that would make it into modern, Hollywood comedy - but I think that is why so many people love Annie Hall! The jokes and references were still really funny since what he wrote about were a bit timeless. People can watch them now and still find the jokes really new and exciting (or they were for me, at least). I really am starting to fall in love with Woody Allen, and understand why so many people are fans.
In Ebert's quote above, he brings up a scene that not only has a funny reference, but uses a really cool style as well. I love that Alvy pulls McLuhan out of no where to argue - I've never really seen anything like that! There are other great scenes as well, where their style is so interesting and makes the scenes more effective. There is a bit of a haunting but funny scene in the beginning, when Alvy is telling the viewers about his childhood. He visits the classroom he was in, and the students, all children, face the camera and tell us their very adult futures. It's a little unsettling, but darkly funny, and I really enjoyed the scene. There is another one, where Annie's spirit, bored during sex, gets up and leaves her body on the bed, and goes to sit on a chair and wonder about other things. It's a really powerful image, but it makes the humor easier to understand and far less tacky. I love that Woody Allen incorporated such a wide ranges of styles, it makes the movie feel really unique and interesting, and that helps to make the dialogue all the more engaging.
I really, really love this movie. I wish I could have seen the last 8 minutes, but I feel like I have a really good idea of it as a whole. I loved all of the funny, witty dialogue and the huge range of visual styles. I loved the acting - everyone felt so perfect for their roles, it felt very real. Plus, I got to see young Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum (Anthony and I glanced at each other, eyes wide, and said, "It's him!" when we heard his unmistakable voice, and I squeed with delight at Jeff Goldblum, who I sort of maybe love, surly on the phone during a party). I think it's a fantastic movie, and it's so worth watching. I had so much fun with it, and found it to feel really fresh and new, despite the fact that it's 11 years older than I am. :)
Have any thoughts on Annie Hall? Share them in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Annie Hall
You can rent the film through Amazon On Demand, as well.