It’s always interesting to rewatch an old film and get a sense of how it holds up. Can you enjoy it as much after all these years? Many classics hold up remarkably well, but that’s not always the case.
“Annie Hall,” directed by Woody Allen and released in 1977, is widely regarded as one of the most influential and important films of the 20th century. The film stars Woody Allen and Diane Keaton along with an excellent supporting cast. The film follows the story of Alvy Singer (Allen), a neurotic New York comedian, and his relationship with Annie Hall (Keaton), an aspiring singer. Many have claimed that the story is semi-autobiographical, though Allen has denied this while Keaton has acknowledged that some of the interactions between Alvy and Annie are similar to her brief, off-screen relationship with Allen.
Diane Keaton as Annie Hall
The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress for Diane Keaton’s portrayal of Annie Hall. Keaton’s Annie Hall is quirky, endearing, and struggling to find her place in the world. She delivers a brilliant performance worthy of her Oscar, and creates one of those iconic characters frozen it time that we can all fall for again and again. Her performance alone makes it easy to recommend this film to anyone who loves movies.
Classic Romantic Comedy
Some consider “Annie Hall” to be a defining film of the romantic comedy genre, even if the story doesn’t get wrapped in a nice, romantic bow at the end of the film. The story highlights the ups and downs of the relationship between Alvy and Annie. As the film progresses, the relationship between Alvy and Annie begins to deteriorate, with Alvy becoming increasingly neurotic and insecure, and Annie seeking personal fulfillment outside of the relationship. The film ends with Alvy reflecting on the lessons he has learned from his relationship with Annie, though viewers can question whether he learned anything at all.
The critics hated “The Bucket List,” but audiences liked it. Go to the Rotten Tomatoes page for this movie and you’ll see the results. Frankly, I’m not surprised, but I’ll confess that I side with the public. This film is a guilty pleasure. Of course, it’s not a great film, and I’m sure the critics expected more from a film directed by Rob Reiner and starring acting icons Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. But that shouldn’t spoil the fun.
Billionaire Edward Cole (Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Freeman) are complete strangers before finding themselves in the same hospital room, both fighting cancer. Edward owns the hospital, and is annoyed that he has to share a room to avoid being a hypocrite. He instituted the policy of two patients to a room, no exceptions.
Naturally, they begin to get to know each other, and start to become friends just as they both learn that they each have 6 – 12 months to live. Which leads to the bucket list, and then their short adventure.
I had never seen “The Game” so I was happy to see this film pop up on one of my streaming services. Starring Michael Douglas at the height of his powers along with the always entertaining Sean Penn, the film had star power along with a very intriguing story.
Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) is a successful and wealthy banker who seems to have everything. He looks like Gordon Gekko but Douglas plays him without the cockiness and bluster. He’s a straight-laced guy living a very comfortable life. His brother Conrad (Penn) is the opposite as we learn quickly when Nicholas meets Conrad for lunch. Their conversation sets up the contrast between the characters, and then Conrad offers up an odd birthday gift. He wants Nicholas to take part in a personalized, real-life game. Nicholas is skeptical but then reluctantly agrees to accept after looking into it. And then things spin out of control.
The story has so many twists and turns that it’s sometimes hard to keep up. The audience is often left guessing as to whether Nicholas is truly experiencing a game or if it’s all real as his life spins out of control. The end of the film is over-the-top, with a final plot twist that will surprise most viewers.
Yet the movie is flawed. It’s difficult to explain this in detail without giving away the ending, but too many of the details don’t add up. It’s too hard to believe the story. We’re used to suspending disbelief in fantasy films like superhero movies or ghost stories, but the setup here is grounded in the real world.
I’m not sure what possessed me to watch this film. I must have been pretty bored when I scrolled through the film options on Amazon Prime to land on this one. I do enjoy older films, and the cast here is fantastic so it seemed like a reasonable choice.
Sadly, I wasn’t too impressed. I came away thinking that a film like this probably derailed Alan Alda’s film career after his incredible run on M.A.S.H. It was very hard back then to make the jump from TV to film, and Alda was certainly typecast at this point. Unfortunately, his character here is just a less funny version of Hawkeye.
The movie isn’t terrible, but it wasn’t very funny, and wasn’t that the point? The cast featured Alda along with Carole Burnett. One would expect plenty of laughs. Rita Moreno, Jack Weston, Len Cariou, Sandy Dennis and Bess Armstrong rounded out the cast. Again, there’s plenty of talent here, but something’s missing.
The underlying story had promise (see the original trailer here). Three couples traditionally go on vacation with their friends every new season. They’re all very close. Jack (Alda) and Kate (Burnett) are a couple. We learn early on with the first vacation that Nick (Cariou) isn’t very happy with his wife , Anne (Dennis). Then on the next vacation he shows up with a much younger woman, Ginny (Bess Armstrong), and the others struggle to come to terms with this. We see these relationships evolve as they go through more vacations together with each new season.
Here’s a cool clip of Rob Reiner discussing “When Harry Met Sally” on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Rob discusses how he and Nora Ephron changed the ending to the film . . . which ended up being a great decision.
And of course we can’t do a post about this film without the iconic Meg Ryan scene as she fakes an orgasm for Bill Crystal . . .