Annie Hall (1977)

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Released 26-Jul-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Animation
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 89:26 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (43:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Woody Allen
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Woody Allen
Diane Keaton
Tony Roberts
Carol Kane
Paul Simon
Shelley Duvall
Janet Margolin
Christopher Walken
Colleen Dewhurst
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $31.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Polish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† The world population is clearly divided into two parts - those who love Woody Allen films and those who loathe Woody Allen films - and never the twain shall meet. Just to let you know, I fall well and truly in the latter category, and judging by the general review consensus around the world, I am clearly in a very small minority here. So be it. Over the years, I have repeatedly tried to come to grips with Woody Allen films, but have failed so miserably that there is not a single one that I can in all honesty say that I have enjoyed. So why am I reviewing a Woody Allen film? Well, in keeping with my endeavours to come to grips with his films, I sort of figured that perhaps the easiest place to continue the forlorn attempt would be with one of his supposedly more accessible films. Well, having now watched it, I can heartily assure you that the experiment has been a resounding disaster. So much so that the only conclusion that I have come to is that, at least as far as I am concerned, Woody Allen films are overrated pieces of rubbish. His endless infatuation with New York is a serious worry, but even more worrying is the fact that he seems to think that his attempts at thinly disguised autobiographical works are actually of interest to the world. At least as far as I am concerned, they are not the least bit interesting and I will cheerfully avoid this effort in the future.

††† This thinly disguised piece of autobiographical rambling is broadly speaking the story of Woody Allen's (Woody Allen) real life break up with Diane Keaton (Diane Keaton). Just to try and keep some semblance of fiction to the film, Woody is actually cast as Alvy Singer, a neurotic Jewish comedian, with a less than stellar love life. Diane is cast as Annie Hall, an aspiring Midwestern night club singer. The two meet, and the film broadly traces the path of their relationship as they fall in love, go through the throes of coming to grips with each other, gradually realize that it is not going to work and gradually pull away from each other. As usual, the backdrop to the film is New York, with the usual NYC vs LA shtick thrown in for good measure. As we experience the ongoing relationship between Woody and Diane, we get flashbacks to some of Woody's/Alvy's earlier relational disasters. Naturally we go down the usual route of Woody/Alvy ending up being the schmuck without the girl.

††† Now by all accounts, this really must be some film: it copped four Oscars in 1977 including some of the big ones in Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director. Sorry to say, I simply cannot see how this could be considered the best picture in that year, and whilst there is a certain charm to Diane Keaton's performance as the slightly whacky singer, I really do not see that it was that great. One can only presume that the competition that year for the Oscars was not great - or else it was another year rife with inexplicable Academy decisions. However, beyond the often incomprehensible decisions of the Academy, this also garnered similar awards from other sources too. The underlying themes are those that Woody Allen pushes with such regularity that they really have become far too tiresome, and certainly not the least bit entertaining. His love affair with New York and hatred of Los Angeles are renowned, so do we really have to keep copping this in his films? We all know relationships are difficult, so does he really need to keep shoving it down our throats? And, we know he has an obsession with death, so do we really need to have that shoved down our throats, too? Really, these central themes of Woody Allen are getting so decidedly passť that he has long since lost any semblance of originality in what he does and as far as I am concerned has well and truly descended past any level at which it is still necessary to take any notice of what he does. Sort of the Jan De Bont of "arty" films really.

††† Billed as a comedy, amongst other things, there is nothing here that I find remotely funny. It is always a bad sign when you are checking the "time to end" reading with regularity, which is what I was doing here after the first half an hour or so. Also billed as a romance, it works a little better in that form than any other, but really there is nothing too special here either. Beyond that, I simply have no idea at what level this may work. Woody Allen does a sterling job of playing Woody Allen, but then again he should do - he has only been playing this shtick role all his life. His narrative style of film here has not worn the years well, and loses somewhat in the way of impact because of it. Diane Keaton is the best part of this film, but she simply is unable to drag it above the lead weight that Woody Allen brings to the screen. The rest barely offer more than cameo, token performances, such is the centrality of the two main characters to the film. At least the direction from Woody Allen provides some originality even if the film style is decidedly dated nowadays.

††† Sorry, but I simply cannot raise any enthusiasm for this film at all. I find it anything but funny, the style of the film is very dated and Woody Allen is getting more irritating every time I see him in film. That obviously places me in a huge minority though, which I recognize. My apologies if you find this to be a great film - I unfortunately do not find this either to be a great film nor to be great entertainment. I obviously just do not "get" Woody Allen films.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Well, since this is over twenty three years old, we are obviously not expecting anything great in the way of a transfer, surely? We do not get it, believe me. At best this is a decent transfer.

††† The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Additionally, this transfer is auto pan and scan encoded.

††† The age of the transfer is amply demonstrated by the decidedly muted sharpness of the transfer. Whilst this is partly the result of the way Woody Allen makes films, as all of his films that I have seen seem to be consistent in this regard, it is also a reflection of the fact that this is not sourced from a pristine print and would seem to be from a third generation print, judging by the reel change markings present in the transfer. It is also evident that this film has not been subjected to any serious restoration work. Detail is nothing to write home about and I suppose that we should be thankful that this really is a character piece, otherwise the lack of detail would have been rather annoying. This is not a particularly clear transfer and suffers a little from grain problems at times: nothing serious but enough to spoil the effect a little. There seemed to be a little low level noise in the transfer at times, but again nothing too serious.

††† The general tone here is a little rich, which gives the transfer a reasonably natural feel to it. Skin tones are well handled, and there is a nice change in style of colour between New York and Los Angeles. Just don't be looking for too much in the way of bright colours here. There was nothing really too far wrong with the saturation at all and there was certainly nothing remotely approaching colour bleed.

††† There are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are no real problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Naturally, since this is over twenty three years old, there is something of a problem with film artefacts in the transfer, but nothing that I would consider unduly distracting in a film of this age.

††† This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change coming at 43:44: it is not a particularly well-placed change, even though it is at a scene change, as it is just a bit too noticeable and just a bit disruptive to the flow of the film.

Audio

††† There are five audio tracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 2.0 mono efforts: English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. I listened to the English soundtrack, but did not feel compelled to check out the other soundtracks.

††† Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand.

††† There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

††† The minimal music score is uncredited, probably as there is not an awful lot to it.

††† The fact that we have a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack actually suits the style of the film pretty well, even if it is not an especially dynamic effort. Like a lot of Woody Allen films, at least in my experience, this is not a film that requires much from the soundtrack apart from presenting clear, undistorted sound. The lack of surround channel use and bass channel use are barely noticed here. The mono sound is a little frontal but not too shabby in its own way.

Extras

††† This is one of the poorer releases to come from the MGM stable as it even lacks the usually informative booklet.

Menu

††† Okay in its own right but having animation without audio is a bit pointless in my view.

Theatrical Trailer (2:02)

††† There is nothing especially great about this effort, other than the fact that it is shorter than the main feature. Presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with the same mono Dolby Digital 2.0 sound as the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† The Region 1 release misses out on: ††† The lack of 16x9 enhancement is a powerful inducement in favour of Region 4.

Summary

††† Annie Hall is quite possibly a great film, but suffers from the usual problem as far as Woody Allen films and I go: I don't like them. Still, if the film is to your taste, then this is probably as good as it will ever get. The extras package is somewhat disappointing.

††† A pretty good video transfer.

††† A very average audio transfer.

††† A minimal extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, August 01, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Bit of a biased review really. - Gavin Bollard (bio - updated 9 Nov 2005)
Annie's voice -