Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen) Grade: A
Filmspotting confession. This is in my top 100, but quite honestly I don't know if I'd ever seen the whole thing all the way through in one sitting. It's certainly been 10 years since I'd even caught a glimpse of. I finally did last night and I was surprised to see one or two scenes I hadn't seen before! It's a classic and deserving of all it's praise. It's hard for me to say this but I think Diane Keaton's latter-day over-the-top performances (like in As Good as it Gets) spoiled me on her a little in this. I shouldn't let that happen. It's part of the code. But alas it did. What's amazing is how many films that came later ripped this off. In particular When Harry Met Sally came to mind on multiple occasions. For me, the first and second acts are brilliant. The California stuff seems pretty broad. And yeah, I know that's the joke, but it's broad even beyond that. The fourth wall stuff is fabulous, especially waiting in line for the movie. I wish I could go back and see this in the late 70's when WA's shtick was new and fresh and I would have to spend half the movie trying to keep up. Now I'm so familiar with the pantamic snare beat of his delivery I sit and wait for the punchline and as a result they don't land quite as solid. They have all the punch, comic timing and humorous sensibility of a funny line, but I'm not sure they're all actually funny. But that's ok. Overall - on the page - it's probably one of the greatest screenplays ever. My secret hope is that maybe if I love this enough no one will make me watch all other the Woody Allen films I haven't seen yet.
A Fish Called Wanda (1988, Charles Crichton) Grade: B+
K-k-k-ken is c-c-coming to k-k-kill me!!! I'd seen this a dozen times when it first came out and laughed hysterically - and had most of the lines pretty well memorized. I caught this on AMC earlier this week and realized I hadn't seen it it probably 18 years. So the question is: does it hold up? Yeah - for the most part is does. Ripping on the English and Americans alike. Some of the slapstick stuff that had me peeing my pants back in the theater in '88 didn't land as funny now but ...that's ok. All the performances are just spot on - but the real scene stealer is Kevin Kline. That is a brilliant BRILLIANT comic performance. He goes "all-in" in that role and it could have been a mess if not done just right. For fans of the early 70's and 80's Monty Python stuff, A Fish Called Wanda was criticized by some at the time to be "Dumbed down Python for non-Geeks" - and I think that's not far off. But the trade off is far more laugh out loud moments than lines you'd recite at a convention some day.