Rating: The Good – 85.5 Genre: Comedy Duration: 96 mins Director: Woody Allen Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway
Woody Allen’s greatest homage to his native city pits an array of characters on different sides of the love divide as they each embody the contradictory nature of the city he loves so well. Shot in sumptuous monochrome and giving a virtual masterclass in the use of lighting, Manhattan is not only one of Allen’s most personal works, it also perhaps his most technically accomplished. And as is typical with Allen, the script ain’t half bad either!
Rating: The Good – 94.8 Genre: Comedy Duration: 93mins Director: Woody Allen Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts
The film that influenced 30 years of comedy (and still counting) is not only one of Woody Allen’s funniest films but it surely must count as one of the wittiest films to ever grace the screen. Allen plays the typically neurotic New York comedian while Diane Keaton plays the titular and ditzy love interest who becomes the projection screen for the emotional Rubik’s Cube that is his love life. The story of how they meet, fall in love, and part ways is told in a kind of jittery flashback which perfectly captures and thus enhances the central personal anxieties which his (and their) story focuses on.
Annie Hall essentially amounts to a series of flawless conversational vignettes bookended by Allen’s personal commentaries which themselves are framed by a conveyor belt of immortal and piercingly funny one-liners. Both the richness of the drama and range of quirky insight is staggering, covering as it does the full spectrum of mid-adulthood anxieties. From the crises which arise from the tenuous notions of our own agency and those crises’ religious, cultural, and social heritage to our self-perceived petty hang ups which we duly project onto those around us, Allen leaves no stone unturned. Annie Hall is the ultimate in confessed narcissism, an examination of self as it’s reflected through those relationships which struggle to define it but end up being defined by it. The cinematic innovation which goes into tying this neurotic examination up into one neat and near perfect package is awesome but it’s the truth which lies at the centre of all the madness which is most impressive.
Chances are if you haven’t already seen Annie Hall, you will have seen one of its many and vastly inferior derivatives. However, if you bear in mind that this is where it all began, it will feel as fresh and innovative as the day it was released. Magnificent.
Rating: The Good – 75.5 Genre: Comedy, Drama Duration: 103 mins Director: Woody Allen Stars: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine
A love triangle involving two sisters and one of their husbands, a third sister trying to get her post drug-addiction life back on track, and a hypochondriac ex-husband searching for a deeper meaning to his life all colliding in this colourful and witty Woody Allen tale. Mia Farrow and Barbara Hershey are, as usual, solid in their roles and Allen is particularly funny as the beleaguered TV producer, but it’s the performances of Michael Caine and Diane Wiest and the outstanding writing behind their characters which gives this film its defining charm. Less innovative than Woody’s earlier Annie Hall but just as smart, this romance for grownups never gets predictable and will have you laughing out loud.