Annie Hall Review
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Thanks to the overwhelming mainstream success of Midnight in Paris (not to mention a Golden Globe win and a few Oscar nominations), 76-year-old writer/director Woody Allen is suddenly more popular than ever. But Allenís biggest, oldest fans still look back fondly on one of his most beloved films: 1977ís four-time Oscar-winner, Annie Hall.

Annie Hall tells the chatty, rambling story of the on-again, off-again romance between New York comedian Alvy Singer (Allen) and fun-loving free spirit Annie Hall (Diane Keaton).

As the film opens, 40-year-old Alvy is looking back on his relationship with Annie, trying to figure out what went wrong. The rest of the film, then, analyzes the relationship in a series of short, quirky scenes, skipping back and forth through time to show the characters and their relationship at both their best and worstófrom their lovably awkward meeting to their unfortunate end.

Annie Hall definitely isnít the typical romantic comedy. It doesnít really have the beginning, middle, and end that most people expect when they sit down to watch a movie. Instead, it explores the relationship in stream-of-consciousness style, picking up snippets of memories as they jump into Alvyís memory. In the process, Allen breaks all the rules of filmmaking, occasionally pausing the action to chat with the audienceóor placing his older self in the middle of old childhood memories, so he can have a conversation with old classmates. And itís that casual, free-flowing approach that makes the film such a unique and memorable experience.

Of course, the lovable characters donít hurt, either. Keaton is absolutely adorable as the flighty Midwesterner. Sheís laid-back and eccentric, with a distinctive wardrobe thatís about as iconic as the film itself. Itís no wonder Alvy falls in love with her; the audience will fall in love at first sight, too.

Allen, meanwhile, is at his neurotic, paranoid best as Alvy. He certainly isnít the same old romantic lead (at least not one youíd find outside a Woody Allen film); heís nervous and whiny and absolutely hilarious in a clever, quick-witted way. And if youíre still watching old Seinfeld reruns, youíll definitely appreciate his random, rambling, funny-Ďcuz-itís-true style. His writing is smart and observant, filled with touches of reality that will remind you of moments in your own relationships.

The film is also filled with amusing little side storiesólike the coupleís awkward trip to visit Annieís family (including her brother, played by Christopher Walken) and their fish-out-of-water experience in posh LA. After 90 minutes of awkwardness, bickering, break-ups, and make-ups, though, it does wear a bit toward the end. Itís an honest look at the anatomy of a mostly-real relationshipóbut perhaps thatís exactly what makes it somewhat tiring: itís sometimes a little too real.

Still, Annie Hall is the quintessential Woody Allen film. Itís chatty and random and loaded with lovably awkward characters. It doesnít have the same Parisian charm of Midnight in Paris, but if you enjoyed Allenís latest film, you might want to take your own step back in time to enjoy another Allen favorite.

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