Dir: Woody Allen (Crimes and Misdemeanors; Manhattan; Deconstructing Harry; Hannah and Her Sisters)
I have seen this film many times. It is screamingly funny, piercingly insightful, and above all groundbreaking in technique and storytelling. And yet, compared with some of the later Allen films that I have seen in the last year (see links above), this may be the first time I have seen Annie Hall and been somewhat underwhelmed. Now, this is relative; it went from best romantic comedy ever to just a really, really great film. But this viewing impressed on me the power of tradgedy (or at least more dramatic themes) to move an audience beyond that which more pure comedy can.
The star, far and away, is the script, so innovative in composition, device and storytelling. The asides, the use of irony and transperancy are all now pretty standard humor techniques. But Annie Hall pioneered them. Bergman's deconstruction of the medium is on diplay here, as Allen speaks directly to the audience and features the role of dramatic representation in the story line itself. Allen's acting is great, and Diane Keaton is certainly iconic (if overwrought) as Annie. But when Allen starts to narrate his feelings to passers-by on the street, asking them for advice about his relationship, it is easy to forget just how transgressive that is for a film. Allen is kitchen sinking the script with every device he can think of, and the product is a near perfect feat of writing.
This film was a springboard for Allen to more fully realize his vision in Manhattan, and throughout the 80's his films acheived some startling successes of observation of human relationships. Annie Hall is a transition film between the early screwball comedies and the more adult works to follow. It is the work of a genius, mind you, but a young one.