Annie Hall [A+]
- at long last, I've gotten to the
Woody Allen movie, the source of two of his three Oscar wins, as well as Diane Keaton's lone statuette. It's often cited as one of the best romantic comedies, with an ending that people still talk about, and you can see why - some romances have always ended with the main couple not together, but that's usually played for grand tragedy, not as a matter-of-fact life thing (though people familiar with Allen's later films will be less surprised). Great performances from the leads, and Allen's directing style is unexpectedly gonzo compared to his other films. Pre-famous Christopher Walken's cameo role was especially funny.
Tropic Thunder [B ]
- one of the critical/online favourite comedies of 2008, I didn't see it at the time (wasn't seeing many films then; one consequence of moving away for graduate school was a major revival in my movie-watching, mainly DVDs). Of course, with any movie that gets as much online support, you're inevitably familiar with some of the more famous jokes/characters before going. Anyway, it's quite a fun movie industry satire, with very on-the-mark actor casting. You can see why RDJ got a nomination for his work here. But I didn't think it was quite as good as some people have said (some jokes/characters aren't as funny as the writer seems to think; Jack Black, in particular).
- another famous late-70s Woody Allen movie, this is also very highly-ranked in his pantheon by most critics, but I liked it less than, say, James Berardinelli. It's a perfectly pleasant dramedy, and as good a showcase as any for Allen's brand of intellectual humour (unlike most directors, he's never afraid to include lots of references to high culture). Pairing Allen and Keaton has by now become a bit formulaic, but it's well-done; the other main relationship, with Mariel Hemingway's character, is also well-done, albeit the premise is intrinsically creepy (and full of irony in light of the debacle that ended his relationship with Mia Farrow). Hemingway does quite excellent work, and the final scene is a showcase for some of Allen's best quiet acting.