DVD Notes: “Annie Hall”
For Woody Allen, the Upper East Side of Manhattan could be Mount Olympus. Or, perhaps more aptly, the cultural centres of Classical Athens or Rome, overrun with artistic exhibition and discourse as well as with decadence, while the rest of America is the provinces of the empire, sunny and decent and undistinguished. Allen makes no effort to conceal his biases, and emphasises the distinction again and again in this sudden growth spurt in his filmmaking. His earlier films – of which I have only seen the 1972 vignette farce Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) – were competent enough comedies, it seems, and, along with his stand-up acts, already established him nationally as a remarkable comedian, but with Annie Hall, his eighth film as director, he applied his wit and his satirical skills to a frame of new self-awareness. Annie Hall marks not only a surge in maturity – which is what youll generally find it being called by critics who reviewed it at the time – but also a great blossoming of modernity and grace. While Allen had literally filmed himself before, appearing in main roles in all of his previous films, he began here to film himself in another sense: to include his own experiences, enthusiasms, fantasies, complexes, sexual activities, and aspirations in his films. The change is marked from the first frame, with Allen addressing the camera and speaking to us, as if in a one-to-one stand-up performance, about his romantic past and relationship troubles.