From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- When Woody Allen Ruled The Social Satire (And Adult Angst) Night
… Hey, haven’t I already reviewed this movie. No, sorry that was Manhattan another in the line of very witty Woody Allen movies. But the point is this it is the same subject that Woody addressed there even though chronologically Annie Hall came first by a couple of years and received the lion’s share of kudos and awards. As virtually always Allen is intent upon commenting on New York life and its intellectual trends and the ups and downs of relationships, mainly with women. Here he adds a flourish by contrasting old New York (in the 1970’s) to up and coming California as the cultural mecca of the American empire. And, as should be the case, New York wins.
Add to that the perennial issue of Woody’s struggle with ‘interpersonal’ relationships and his angst-driven desire to understand the modern world and you have a very fine social commentary of the times. Needless to say Woody’s love interest Annie Hall (as played by his then paramour Diane Keaton) keeps him hopping. As does an ensemble cast that works well together as foils for his ironic and savage humor. The only surprise in revisiting this film recently is how well Keaton plays her role as an up and coming torch singer. Of course, I have always been a sucker for torch singers but that is another matter. Some of the humor may seem dated and very 1970’s New Yorkish. Some of Woody’s mannerism and use of sight gags may seem like old news. But this is a film to watch or re-watch if you have seen it before.
Here a struggling (weren’t we all and still are) Greenwich Village writer has a play in search of a backer and in the process a gangster ‘ghostwriter’. Up comes one backer-with a problem- his ‘doll’ wants in on the play and he needs to stay one or two steps ahead of his rivals. These antics drive the play nicely as does a brilliant performance by Diane Wierst doing a fantastic send up of Gloria Swanson as the has been actress searching for a comeback in Billy Wilder’s classic Hollywood Boulevard. This one is definitely the five star without the hype.
Labels: woody allen