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Annie Hall (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 1, 2012 by  



“Annie Hall” has a magical charm that captivates the viewer.  Unusual storytelling for its time, it was a different kind of romantic comedy and over 30-years later, the film still stands on its own, remains relevant and is a signature of great filmmaking and great writing.   “Annie Hall” is a film that must be seen, and for any cineaste, a film that it is definitely worth buying and owning on Blu-ray.  It’s my favorite Woody Allen film and it’s a film that is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1977 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Annie Hall

FILM RELEASE: 1977

DURATION: 93 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: Color, widescreen (1:85:1), English mono DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono, French Mono, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

COMPANY:MGM/20th Century fox

RATED: PG

RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2012

Directed by Woody Allen

Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

Produced by Charles H. Joffe, Jack Rollins

Executive Producer: Robert Greenhut

Associate Producer: Fred T. Gallo

Cinematography by Gordon Willis

Edited by Wendy Green Bricmont, Ralph Rosenblum

Casting by Juliet Taylor

Art Direction by Mel Bourne

Set Decoration by Robert Drumheller, Justin Scoppa Jr.

Costume Design by Ruth Morley

Starring:

Woody Allen as Alvy Singer

Diane Keaton as Annie Hall

Tony Roberts as Rob

Carol Kane as Allison

Paul Simon as Tony Lacey

Shelley Duvall as Pam

Janet Margolin as Robin

Colleen Dewhurst as Mom Hall

Christopher Walken as Duane Hall

Considered to be “Woody Allen’s breakthrough movie” (Time), Annie Hall won* four Oscars®, including Best Picture, and established Allen as the premier auteur filmmaker. Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.

Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” would always be known as a classic romantic comedy.

In fact, many would say that his 1977 film would be his shining moment within his long list of films in his oeuvre.   For Woody Allen, “Annie Hall” was a film in which the filmmaker and actor wanted delve deeper than he had done in his previous films and sure enough, it would prove to be a success.

“Annie Hall” was nominated for five Academy Awards and won “Best Picture”, “Best Director – Woody Allen”, “Best Actress in a Leading Role – Diane Keaton) and “Best Original Screenplay – Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman”.  The film also won many awards in 1977 and was voted the #2 Romantic Comedy on the American Film Institute’s Top 10 (2008) and 35 in the AFI’s “100 Years…100 Movies” (2007).

In 1992, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

And now, this classic romantic comedy receives is first presentation via HD on Blu-ray.

“Annie Hall” is a film about a neurotic and popular comedian named Alvy Singer (played by Woody Allen).  The film chronicles the relationship between Alvy and Annie Hall (played by Diane Keaton). And featuring flashbacks featuring a time when they were younger, the sexual relationships they had in the past and eventually the moment the two have met each other and were quite satisfied with each other and eventually moving in with each other.  Also, Alvy and Annie’s first sexual experience leading to more sex in which Annie becomes dependent on marijuana before sex and Alvy wanting for her to not use it.

The two constantly get into arguments and re-conciliate and eventually discovering that they are too different for each other and eventually Alvy and Annie break up.

Annie gets into a new relationship with Tony Lacey (played by Paul Simon) and moves to California to live with him.  But Alvy starts to realize that he loves Annie and will do anything he can to win her back and bring her back to New York.

The experience leads Alvy to write a play based on their relationship, but will Alvy and Annie ever meet again?

VIDEO:

“Annie Hall” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1). Before I review the video, let me first say that I have owned this film in previous video formats.  The DVD which was an improvement featured a good amount of grain but also featured white specks.  The worst part came when you watched the title screen but after that, the film looked good.

As for the Blu-ray release of “Annie Hall”, the upgrade is noticeable but also the grain is even much more evident (which is good or bad, subjective to the viewer).  But it’s important to note that “Annie Hall” was never vibrant to begin with, in fact, the DVD looked a bit soft and for those coming into “Annie Hall” for the first time, will notice the same thing on Blu-ray.

So, with that being said, I can easily say that fans of the film will enjoy the HD version for its sharpness but for a late ’70s film, don’t expect a dramatic difference in picture quality between the Blu-ray and DVD (like other ’70s films such as “Saturday Night Fever” and “Taxi Driver”).

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Annie Hall” is presented in English mono DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono and French Mono.  While we do get to hear Woody Allen and his band’s music throughout the film, “Annie Hall” is a dialogue-driven film and its monaural lossless soundtrack is appropriate.  I also didn’t notice any hiss, crackling or any problematic audio during my viewing of the film on Blu-ray.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

For those not familiar with Woody Allen films, aside from the recent “Midnight in Paris” Blu-ray release, none of his films on DVD or Blu-ray contain special features aside from the theatrical trailer.  If you want to know more about Woody Allen’s thoughts on “Annie Hall”, I do recommend checking out  the book “Woody Allen on Woody Allen” by Stig Bjorkman.

“Annie Hall” is one of the great romantic comedy films ever made.

It’s everything that one would want to see in a comedy but most importantly chemistry between its two leads.  As Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan were perfect in “When Harry Met Sally”, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, who have had a relationship and the fact that he crafted this film around Keaton is a testament to the trust that they had with each other professionally.

Woody Allen took a major step forward by trying to leave the past behind and that includes the one-liners he was best known for, and with the success of those films, the freedom to explore.  The freedom to try something deep and important.  And in this case, with the character of Alvy (which Allen has gone on the record to say that the character is NOT modeled after him) and his self-deprecating humor.

But what I enjoy about the film is its intellectual wit.  From the scene where Alvy and Annie are at the movie theater and are arguing, right behind them is a film teacher going off on Fellini.  Its this type of dialogue that I love to see in a Woody Allen film as we see Woody Allen’s character getting upset by the discussion by a cinema erudite.  We see similar scenes in Allen’s “Manhattan” to even his most recent film “Midnight in Paris”, but it’s the dialogue that was carefully written and the build-up to show how a relationship that started so good, can end up going badly.

“Annie Hall” is an engaging, captivating film in which the character Alvy speaks to the audience (literally) and the way he interacts with people, it lends to the film’s efficacy.  And although we would see “location” take an importance in films such as “Manhattan”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Midnight in Paris”, “Annie Hall” does try to show New York and Los Angeles (as well as Wisconsin) but its not the city that takes over the scene, it’s the characters.

And speaking of characters, this film would also star talent that would eventually become popular in their own right a few years later.  Talent such as Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Goldblum.

But this is not a romantic comedy in the sense of everything is about happy endings.  This is not the Nora Ephron happy ending, this is the Woody Allen story of a breakup.  Its dialogue was intellectual, accessible and hilarious.  The film was engaging, unique and fresh for its time and it’s my favorite Woody Allen film ever made.

As for the Blu-ray release, while the picture quality is not a huge leap over the original DVD, it still looks sharper and a bit better, especially cleaner.  And as usual with all Woody Allen films, you’re just not going to get any special features (surprisingly, the recent Blu-ray and DVD release of Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” is the exception).

Overall, “Annie Hall” has a magical charm that captivates the viewer.  Unusual storytelling for its time, it was a different kind of romantic comedy and over 30-years later, the film still stands on its own, remains relevant and is a signature of great filmmaking and great writing.

“Annie Hall” is a film that must be seen, and for any cineaste, a film that it is definitely worth buying and owning on Blu-ray.

Highly recommended!






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