Thursday, March 29, 2012

INTERIORS (1978)

Three adult sisters are having trouble coping with the sudden separation of their parents. The split shouldn't have come as a surprise since the mother has ruled the family with an iron fist for a number of years, but it did comes as a surprise. To make matters worse the mother has a history of mental illness and now, in her denial, she's become suicidal. Added to this crisis is the personal life drama (husband/boyfriend, job, family history etc.) of each of the sisters.

With his previous film (ANNIE HALL) Allen proved that he was capable of more than just broad comedies by introducing a level of seriousness never seen before in his films, but with INTERIORS he takes it to the next level: the pacing is purposely slow; there's no music for nearly the entire film; the colors are all subdued and bleak; zero laughs; hardly any action beyond talking. INTERIORS is most decidedly not what audiences were expecting from the guy who brought them TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN and SLEEPER, but if they had an open mind about it they ended up being treated to one of the best films of the 1970's.

A number of critics simply dismiss INTERIORS as an "homage to Ingmar Bergman" (what's wrong with that?!), even so it's still a powerful and emotionally moving film that should not only be seen but studied...especially the script and the set decoration. I cannot recommend it enough.  It's a masterpiece.  I'm very surprised that Geraldine Page didn't win the Oscar for Best Actress.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ANNIE HALL (1977)

I'm sure you already know this but ANNIE HALL was a turning point for Allen. The films before were more joke driven with almost nonstop jokes and gags, but with ANNIE HALL the emphasis is less on the jokes and more on the characters...and it works wonderfully.

Allen talking to the audience while in character is nothing new, he ended his last film LOVE AND DEATH by doing so, but there's something about how he does it at the beginning of ANNIE HALL that's much more personal and intimate. Maybe it's the modern time period or just the subject matter, but within a few seconds of the film starting Allen has already masterfully engaged the audience. After his brief introduction, where he (Alvy Singer) talks about his outlook on life and his relationship with Annie, the audience is granted entrance into Alvy's world and allowed to watch Alvy's life from his childhood days up to his different sexual adventures as an adult, but mainly ANNIE HALL is about his lurve, his loave and his luff for the beautiful Annie.

I wasn't around in 1977 to see ANNIE HALL upon it's initial release, but I can only imagine how fresh and modern it must have felt with Allen talking directly to the audience, the split screens (one of which wasn't a real split screen, but instead just a wall between duel performances), the animation, the conversing with strangers on the street, the literary feel to the whole thing, etc. I watched it again last night (for about the hundredth time) and I was mesmerized. Even thought I know the script by heart I still find myself lost in the story and smiling at the beautiful photography. I really cannot recommend ANNIE HALL enough. It's been copied a million times during the last 35+ years, but it's still a landmark of Cinema and one of my favorite movies. But don't listen to me, just enjoy and discover it for yourself.

All of that said, I think, in my old (and wise) age I'm actually going to actually drop ANNIE HALL down a notch on my favorite Woody Allen Movies list move A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT SEX COMEDY up one. AH has faded just a little with time whereas AMNSC has actually gotten even more beautiful.
Great inside joke since that is the real Truman Capote.

FACE TO FACE

Sigourney Weaver