Monday, October 27, 2008

Diane Keaton, Annie Hall

Imagine what would have happened if Diane Keaton hadn't won the Oscar for this truly iconic performance... I can't imagine sweet Diane without an Oscar win. I'm not saying hers is the best of the 5, as we've just started 1977, yet I think this is a victory so easy to embrace due to the general idea about the film (perfection!) and the likeability of the performance itself.
I'm just gonna say a couple of words on one of the most influential Best Actress nominees (and wins) of all times... Hard to follow that, right?

approximately 40 minutes and 11 seconds
46.3% of the film

Annie Hall

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.

I think it’s safe to consider Annie Hall a breakthrough for Woody Allen. And what a way to go, as it won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay & Actress. For me, the film is in my Top 3 best Woody Allen movies ever and the screenplay is probably Woody’s best writing material. It’s sharp, with that typical humor that he always projects into his stories. The comedy is also based on contrasts, with great situation comedy, but also feeling very personal. It’s fun to watch and I loved the Ingmar Bergman homage. Whoever doesn’t see this as a classic must be in serious denial. :)
Diane Keaton, as Annie Hall
As I’ve mentioned contrasts, this is the basis of Diane’s performance as Annie Hall. It’s probably the way Alvy sees her. At first, she’s absent minded, goofy, childish, very la-di-da. Then, as Alvy is starting to lose her, we discover the mature, more serious woman in Annie. Yet, the best moments of her performance stand in the comedic first half.
She is so charismatic, that she always brings a smile on your face. A natural, she makes the smart lines credible up to a point that most of it looks like improvising – the good kind.
Her sweetness is just what the film needs, putting her as an opposite to her neurotic boyfriend. Seeing the film again, I realized that I love Diane’s take on the character more than I care about the character itself. Annie is so childish and goofy in the first part of their relationship that it made the character feel a bit annoying to me. As I suppose this was Woody’s purpose, it’s truly an accomplishment. But I didn’t realize it from the start, because Diane presence and smile are charming me too much to see that in fact she’s hiding a quite narrow minded character.
So the success of the film is crucially based on Diane’s take on the character and the fact that Annie Hall was actually written for her (which justifies the perfect casting). The scene following the tennis game is a thrill to watch. La-di-da. You don’t get more natural than this.
She’s crazy and we embrace that and believe it. These scenes (where her masculine sense of fashion is a knockout – oh, that tie with the vest…) are the peak of Diane’s performance and probably the reason for her Oscar win. Talking about her weird relatives, babbling, doing funny gestures with her hands, they’re all part of Diane’s adequate & charming take on Annie.
A normal person would be so annoying while saying something as politically incorrect as You're what Grammy Hall [her grandmother] would call a real Jew. To the viewer, it’s like a punch in the face, and it was the moment to realize how much I’d hate her in real life, yet Diane knows how to humanize her and give her a likeable aura.

Annie Hall is a singer. And Diane lives up to the challenge a couple of times. She has a good voice and it’s a nice change in the story. These are not diva moments, but songs whispered, sang from the heart by a simple often unsophisticated girl.
Although we also get to discover Annie in crisis situations, as her perspective on life starts to develop, it’s her silly charm from the beginning that justifies all the praise. She’s good with drama, but not better.
Towards the end, as she distances herself from Alvy, Annie becomes a more superficial (or at least non-New Yorkish) Californian girl swept away by her professional goals. It works; again: Diane is effective and we do sense the contrast with the goofy girl that Annie was at the beginning of the film and also at the beginning of her now-dead relationship with the neurotic Alvy. Annie changes in his eyes, yet the writer is generous with her in the last scenes :) providing a nice friendship between the two characters and we get the idea that maybe after all she didn’t become as superficial and distant as we feared her to be.


Tempted was I to go for the 5 stars. It’s memorable to be sure, yet despite the title the film is mostly about Alvy Singer, the neurotic New Yorker; and, yes, about his love and relationship with the goofy Annie. Diane Keaton is sweet enough to be perfect for the role and to see her improvising (especially when she meets Alvy) is a charming experience as she’s as natural & easy going as it gets. This is the strongest part of the performance. There’s nothing weak or shaky, but in the second part we’re not as focused on her as we would’ve wanted. and I feel a bit guilty for not giving more.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm soooo happy!

Stinkylulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown 1976

This month I've been honoured to participate in one of Stinkylulu's Supporting Actress Smackdowns. It's something I've been wanting for some time now and it finally happened. Brian (Stinkylulu) invites us to say our thought on the 5 supporting actresses nominated in a certain year. At the end of the month there's a Smackdown, where he tallies the votes / the love and we find out which of the 5 was the final favorite.

For me, it's very exciting to be surrounded by people as passionate about Oscars as I am and about actresses and their Oscar-nominated contribution to their films. October's chosen year was 1976. The nominees for Best Supporting Actress 1976 were:
  • Jane Alexander, for All the President's Men
  • Jodie Foster, for Taxi Driver
  • Lee Grant, for Voyage of the Damned
  • Piper Laurie, for Carrie
  • Beatrice Straight, for Network
To see which one was my favorite and read my take on these performances please follow this link. If you're a movie fan, do click on it. There, you'll also find a montage that I created for the event.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Me and you and all the narcissistic bitches

Wow. I haven't had a photo shoot this fun since May. I need a spread in Elle Magazine (like those bitches on Project Runway) :D
I'm writing about it as I want to remember it later. Yet, still half jobless & single :P Oh, my cruel destiny...

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