Woody Allen has had quite a run lately. First, the neurotic New Yorker had the biggest box office hit of his career with last summer’s Midnight in Paris. Now there’s a good chance he’ll be nominated for a couple of Oscars for it. Plus, two of his most beloved films are making their Blu-ray debuts: Annie Hall (1977, PG, 1 hr., 33 mins.) and Manhattan (1979, R, 1 hr., 36 mins.). After he cranked out a string of gag-packed comedies like Sleeper and Bananas, Annie Hall was Allen’s first stab at something deeper. The laughs still come at a rat-a-tat clip (see: his cocaine sneezing fit and anti-Semite Grammy Hall’s ”dynamite ham”), but the former stand-up comic finally had more on his mind than slapstick. His onscreen romance with offscreen partner Diane Keaton is touching and true — never more so than when the couple finally realize that their relationship is doomed (”I think what we’ve got on our hands is a dead shark”). After a gloomy detour with 1978’s Interiors, Allen reteamed with Keaton for Manhattan. And if you’ve never seen the film’s opening four minutes — a glorious black-and-white tribute to Gotham set to Gershwin’s ”Rhapsody in Blue,” do yourself a favor. The rest of the film, in which Allen is torn between Keaton’s high-strung intellectual and an age-inappropriate high school student played by Mariel Hemingway, is just as unforgettable. Not that Allen agrees. Last spring, he told EW that he’d always thought Manhattan was overrated. The man’s entitled to his opinion, but he’s wrong. My only beef with the new discs is their lack of Extras beyond the films’ trailers. To paraphrase Annie Hall, the bonus features are terrible…and such small portions. Still, both films earn an A.
ANNIE HALL Diane Keaton and Woody Allen (Everett Collection)
Genre: Romance, Comedy; Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Shelley Duvall, Carol Kane, Tony Roberts, Paul Simon; Director: Woody Allen; Author: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman; Status: In Season; Runtime (in minutes): 93; MPAA Rating: PG; Distributor: United Artists (MGM)
Posted January 24 2012 — 12:00 AM EST
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