BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #53: Annie Hall, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided such a challenge.
I think I might have come to the sad realization watching Annie Hall this time that I like Woody Allen films less and less over the years. I first saw Annie Hall in a college film class and I really liked it. It was so funny and unique and clever but this time around I was more irritated than anything. But I want to start with the things that I still like about the film. I am a life-long Diane Keaton fan and she gives a delightful performance as the titular character. I also love all the flashbacks, split screens and the moments when Allen breaks the fourth wall. Those scenes still work for me, like the clever use of subtitles when Annie and Alvy are first getting to know each other. I also like that film is not chronological, we see Annie and Alvy as a real couple before we see their meet-cute.
That being said, there was a lot more that didn’t like this time around. I have a very low tolerance for the fetishizing of New York City that Alvy does throughout the film. This is a personal thing but I really do not like NYC and it get really annoyed and bored with people like Allen who think it is the only place in the world where people can lead fulfilling lives. Also, the blatant misogyny that Alvy spews throughout the film and also writes into Annie’s character is irritating. It was the 1970’s and it was different time but he makes Annie a lot more pathetic than I think is honest to the character. Annie is a beautiful, interesting, and talented woman with a lot to offer but she spends the film thinking that she isn’t smart enough for Alvy, who is a moderately successful, neurotic comic. This viewing I was so happy when they finally broke up because I wanted her to finally realize her potential and date someone worth her time.
I might be projecting my personal feelings but there is something about the “Woody Allen” character that I can stand less and less the older I get. The way he projects his insecurities on the people around him and his irritating neediness really push my buttons in a negative way. I want to slap him and shake and tell him to get a grip. Also his incessant analysis of himself and people around him is exhausting. I get that in the 1970’s psychoanalysis was “in fashion”, but I found it uninteresting and annoying. I would put up with it for about five minutes in real life before I made an excuse and getting away from him at a full run. I know that it is an exaggerated character for comedic effect in the movie but I really have lost all my patience for it. I try not to bring personal biases to films but sometimes I can’t help it.
After having such a negative response to Manhattan earlier in the list and having a more negative response to Annie Hall this time, I am nervous to go back and watch other Woody Allen films I have enjoyed in the past like Manhattan Murder Mystery, Midnight in Paris, and Hannah and Her Sisters.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Annie Hall ranking: Submarine