Release Date: August 5th, 1988 Directed by: Ken Kwapis Written by: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Deborah Blum Music by: James Horner Cast: Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Goldblum, Julian Sands, Googy Gress, Peter Falk, Michael Lerner, Steve Buscemi, Park Overall
Imagine Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, 99 Minutes
“I’d give you the finger but I’m too refined.” – Sylvia Pickel
I was nine years-old when this hit theaters but I remember seeing the ads on television constantly. I never did see the movie in the theater or thereafter until now, over three decades later.
I generally like Cyndi Lauper but I haven’t seen her act in anything else. In this, she’s not great by any stretch but she’s at least likable and entertaining. Then again, she’s pretty much playing herself with psychic powers.
Beyond Lauper, you have Jeff Goldblum, who I love in everything he’s ever done. He’s good here but he also plays a character that’s pretty much just himself with psychic powers. So neither lead in this movie really had to try too hard.
You also get Peter Falk, Julian Sands, Michael Lerner, Park Overall from Empty Nest and a very young Steve Buscemi in this.
I guess out of everyone, I enjoyed Falk the most.
The plot is pretty damn rickety and it’s not very good. Although, it is somewhat salvaged by the charm of the Lauper and Goldblum, who I thought had fairly decent and unique chemistry.
Vibes just barely kept my attention, though. I didn’t find it tough to get through but had it lasted longer than its 99 minutes, I would’ve probably needed to take a break.
In the end, this is pretty forgettable and I can see why it’s been lost to time and never really gained a cult following, even from the many fans of Cyndi Lauper’s that still exist today.
Also known as: Hexensabbat (Germany), De Watcher (Netherlands) Release Date: January 7th, 1977 (New York City premiere) Directed by: Michael Winner Written by: Jeffrey Konvitz, Michael Winner Based on:The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz Music by: Gil Melle Cast: Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, José Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Arthur Kennedy, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Deborah Raffin, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Beverly D’Angelo, Hank Garrett, Nana Visitor (as Nana Tucker), Tom Berenger, William Hickey, Jeff Goldblum
“It’s all right. Listen, listen. I know everything now. The Latin you saw in that book was an ancient warning from the angel Gabriel to the angel Uriel.” – Michael Lerman
The Sentinel came out in a decade that was packed full of religious themed horror movies after the successes that were 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby and 1973’s The Exorcist. So it’s easy to see why it may have gotten lost in the shuffle. However, in my opinion, it is one of the better ones out there.
The film also has a really great cast, even if most of the parts are fairly small, except for the two leads: Cristina Raines and Chris Sarandon. Sprinkled throughout though are Martin Balsam, John Carradine, José Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Beverly D’Angelo, Nana Visitor (of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Tom Berenger, William Hickey and Jeff Goldblum. Needless to say, there’s a lot of great talent here and the film truly benefits from it, as just about every scene includes someone of note and none of them are simply dialing in their performance.
The plot revolves around a young woman with a pretty screwed up past, wanting to live on her own for awhile. She moves into an old building near the water in New York City. However, the attic apartment has an old blind priest that just sits in the window 24/7. The place is also full of bizarre residents and as the film rolls on, we come to learn that these people are ghosts. We also learn that the building is a gateway to Hell and the old priest sits there to keep the evil from escaping the walls of the house.
The story almost feels like it’s ripped from a ’70s Italian demon movie. But also like Italian demon movies, this is eerie as hell and really effective. It’s just creepy as shit in the greatest way possible.
I like how the story evolves and brings in the detectives played by Eli Wallach and Christopher Walken. I like both of those actors tremendously and they were great together in this. In fact, I kind of wished they had their own film as two NYC detectives in the gritty ’70s.
The real scene stealer for me was Chris Sarandon. I’ve loved the guy since I first saw him in Fright Night when I was a little kid. He’s just solid in this and I like what they do with his character over the progression of the story.
I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this movie. I’ve known about it for years but never got around to seeing it. Had I known how many great actors were in this, I probably would’ve watched it years earlier.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: other religious horror of the ’70s.
Release Date: February 22nd, 1985 Directed by: John Landis Written by: Ron Koslow Music by: Ira Newborn Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Richard Farnsworth, Irene Papas, Kathryn Harrold, Dan Aykroyd, Bruce McGill, David Bowie, Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, Art Evans, John Hostetter, Jack Arnold, Rick Baker, Paul Bartel, David Cronenberg, Jonathan Demme, Amy Heckerling, Jim Henson, Lawrence Kasdan, Paul Mazursky, Carl Perkins, Dedee Pfeiffer, Don Siegel, Jake Steinfeld, Roger Vadim
Universal Pictures, 115 Minutes
“[to Diana] I need you to appease Shaheen. She will demand blood; yours will do.” – Monsieur Melville
After recently watching Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, I couldn’t help but want to revisit a similar film from the same year by John Landis.
However, after revisiting this, it’s not all that similar other than it’s a “yuppie in peril” story. Also, the girl makes it to the end of this film and it’s more of an actual love story while also being more lighthearted and action heavy. The two films certainly have some parallels but this one is more accessible and probably more fun for most filmgoers.
Personally, I don’t like this as much as After Hours but it’s still a movie that I enjoy quite a bit.
It’s hard not to enjoy a film with Jeff Goldblum and Michele Pfeiffer as its stars, though. Both of them are great in this and I liked their chemistry and kind of wished they were paired up in more movies.
Beyond the two leads, we have a film full of lots of great talent, as well as more than a dozen cameos with other filmmakers and behind the camera legends in small, bit parts. Hell, even this film’s director, John Landis, plays a roll throughout the film as one of the four thugs in pursuit of the main characters.
I really liked David Bowie in this, though. He steals the scenes he’s in and it made me wish that his role was bigger.
The story sees a man, after catching his wife cheating, stumble upon a woman running away from some dudes with guns in an airport parking garage. They speed off together and we’re sent on an action adventure romp through Los Angeles, as they try to figure out how to get her out of trouble and survive all the trouble that’s coming for them.
There are so many great characters in this and every sequence in the film is pretty damn memorable because of that.
It’s strange to me that this isn’t considered one of Landis’ top films but it was also the first film of his to come out after the tragedy that happened on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. I think that because of that, this wasn’t promoted as well as it should have been and the public already had a bad taste in their mouths and probably, rightfully so.
However, looking at this as its own thing, separate from the grim reality of an unrelated picture, this is a solid comedy that did just about everything right.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with:After Hours and other “yuppie in peril” movies.
Also known as: The Body Snatchers (informal title) Release Date: December 21st, 1978 (San Francisco & Minneapolis premieres) Directed by: Philip Kaufman Written by: W. D. Richter Based on:The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney Music by: Denny Zeitlin Cast: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Art Hindle, Robert Duvall, Philip Kaufman (cameo), Kevin McCarthy (cameo)
Solofilm, United Artists, 115 Minutes
“We came here from a dying world. We drift through the universe, from planet to planet, pushed on by the solar winds. We adapt and we survive. The function of life is survival.” – Dr. David Kibner
This is a movie that kind of terrified me, as a kid. I’m also a germaphobe and have a strange fear of plants that don’t look right, especially coming into contact with them. I’m probably much better in that regard, as an adult, but this film is still quite unsettling regardless of how many times I’ve seen it and how much I’ve aged in the process.
Out of all the adaptations of The Body Snatchers story, this is the one that’s the most effective. At least from my point-of-view.
There’s just something supremely creepy about this version of the story and a lot of that probably has to do with it being made in the ’70s, it’s use of incredible practical effects and the solid cast.
Being an old school Star Trek fan, I love that Leonard Nimoy plays an evil bastard in this. Well, after he’s been infected with the alien spores, anyway. But its great seeing Nimoy get to express himself in ways that he couldn’t while playing Spock, his most iconic role.
Additionally, I loved seeing a very youthful and cool Jeff Goldblum in this, as well as Veronica Cartwright and Brooke Adams, who I wish would’ve been a more prominent actress because she’s always really damn good.
Donald Sutherland takes the cake, though, as the lead in the film. He and his friends become aware that something strange is going on and he does his best trying to stop it, even though it becomes clear that the alien invasion will happen regardless of how human beings feel about it.
The movie is also full of sequences that are simply great.
The one that really stands out to me is where Jeff Goldblum brings the heroes to a strange body. Here, we get to see the first real physiological changes in those effected by the alien spores. We also get to see how the aliens move and try to absorb human DNA in order to be replicated into plant-based copies.
Following that, we get another great sequence that sees Sutherland fall asleep and nearly get assimilated by alien pods in a backyard. The effects in this scene are incredible and some of the best of the era.
Speaking of which, the effects of the opening credits were also damn impressive, as we see the alien lifeforms leave their home planet and soar across the universe on solar winds, eventually making their way to Earth and attaching themselves to our plants.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is simply awesome. I dig the hell out of it from top-to-bottom and it’s one of those films I have to revisit every few years.
At some point, I’ll probably review the other remakes/re-imaginings of this story but none of them hold a candle to this one, except for the original.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with: the original film, as well as other alien invasion and killer virus movies of the ’60s through ’80s.
Also known as: Jurassic Park 2, The Lost World (working titles) Release Date: May 19th, 1997 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Steven Spielberg Written by: David Koepp Based on:The Lost World by Michael Crichton Music by: John Williams Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Richard Attenborough, Vince Vaughn, Vanessa Lee Chester, Peter Stormare, Harvey Jason, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Camilla Belle
Digital Image Associates, Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures, 129 Minutes
“Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.” – Dr. Ian Malcolm
I barely remembered this film, as I hadn’t seen it in its entirety since the theater in 1997. Although, I have seen bits and pieces on television over the years. However, I usually catch the movie at the end, once the T-Rex is running around San Diego looking for its baby.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect in revisiting this but I always remembered not enjoying it as much as the original. However, it has a lot more Goldblum, so that is kind of a selling point, regardless of the overall quality.
Staring with what I liked about the movie, I thought it was immensely cooler simply for the fact that it was darker and pushed the envelope a bit further. It felt much closer to Jaws than the first film and it actually showed a good amount of dino on human violence. A lot of people get eaten, as well as a dog. We even see a girl get savagely attacked and are left with the impression that she was eaten to death. But we are told, several minutes later, that she survived the attack and was doing okay.
The tone in this movie, for the most part, was just right. It comes undone in the third act during the San Diego sequence but the movie did pretty good up to that point.
As mentioned in the second paragraph, this movie is heavy on the Goldblum, which I liked a lot, as even though he’s one of the three stars of the first movie, by the mid-point of that film, he’s kind of just hanging out in the techies’ office.
Looking beyond just Jeff Goldblum, this film had a great cast between Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, as well as cameos by Richard Attenborough and his character’s grandchildren. This also featured Pete Postlethwaite in what I would call one of his greatest roles. His character was complex, interesting and he really shined in this role, despite not having the screen time that the bigger stars had.
I also liked the sequence where the raptors are hiding in the tall grass and picking people off, as everyone is running away from the danger. It’s superbly shot and it’s a chilling scene that has held up remarkably well, especially when other scenes don’t look like they’re on the same level as the first movie.
Moving on to the negatives, the CGI and special effects, overall, look worse than the first film. I found that baffling, considering that this came out four years later in an era where CGI effects were moving forward by leaps and bounds.
However, the scene where you see the first dinosaurs greatly pales in comparison to the dino reveal scene in the first picture.
Also, the movie doesn’t feel like a Steven Spielberg movie. It’s a hard thing to explain and his magical cinematic touch is difficult to quantify but this just doesn’t have that “touch” that other Spielberg adventure films have.
Something that made me scratch my head and go “huh?” was the scene where Goldblum’s daughter uses gymnastics to kill a raptor. I remember people bitching about this back in the day but the whole thing slipped away from my memory over the last twenty-three years. It doesn’t break the movie but it makes you question whether or not Spielberg was off that day and left the film in the hands of a stoner baked out of his mind.
While I liked most of the action, the sequence with the research trailers hanging off the cliff ran on for too long. It was stretched out for suspense and to set up the curveball that was the arrival of two T-Rexes but it was poorly crafted with bad pacing and it disrupted the suspense it tried to build towards.
Lastly, I didn’t like the San Diego shit. I get why they did it, as they had to try and up the ante with this film and taking a T-Rex to a major American city seemed like the next logical step. It just feels out of place and strange. Although, I did like the film’s token asshole getting eaten alive by the baby T-Rex.
This film is a mixed bag. It’s mostly good and it’s a better-than-decent popcorn movie to escape into for a few hours. However, it kind of shows that maybe this concept should have been kept to one film.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: the other Jurassic Park/World films.
Also known as: JP (promotional abbreviation) Release Date: June 9th, 1993 (Washington D.C. premiere) Directed by: Steven Spielberg Written by: Michael Crichton, David Koepp Based on:Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton Music by: John Williams Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Miguel Sandoval, Whit Hertford
“Yeah, but, John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” – Dr. Ian Malcom
I think it might be hard for younger people to understand the hype around Jurassic Park when it came out. For me, it came out in the summer between middle school and high school but I spent most of my eighth grade year listening to my science teacher enthusiastically rave about the novel it was based on. In fact, she offered up extra credit for those of us who read the book and did a report on it, which I did. I liked the book better, FYI.
Anyway, I think that I may have been just a hair too old for this movie to have had the same effect on me as it did younger people in my life. For those born just after the Star Wars films had their theatrical releases, this was their Star Wars. And while I liked it, quite a lot, I do feel like the movie is a bit overrated.
Now I still think it’s damn solid and a fun movie but the story seems pretty basic, overly simplistic and just there to show off what Industrial Light and Magic could do with CGI effects. In that regard, this is a masterpiece of its time and without this film, we wouldn’t have gotten anymore Star Wars films, as this was the real test that George Lucas wanted in order to see if he could make more space movies in the way that he had always envisioned.
This led to the Special EditionStar Wars movies, which I thought were cool to see but I still preferred the unaltered originals. But then those movies led to the Prequel Trilogy and a bunch of other effects heavy films to follow.
Getting back to this film, though, it kind of recycles the best animal horror elements of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws but makes the monster a bunch of dinosaurs and shifts the man-eating to land.
Overall, this is less horrific than Jaws and it isn’t really categorized as “horror” even though it very much is. But I guess marketing it as such, kind of hurts trying to sell it to the public as a family adventure movie. Now if they had put (or left) some actual gore in it, I probably would’ve dug it more as a kid but then parents would’ve been outraged and this might not have become a massive franchise.
The film is really good and probably Spielberg’s best from the ’90s, after Schindler’s List, of course.
It was well cast and the main players are all pretty great, as they created iconic roles that seem to leave a void when they aren’t included in the Jurassic movies after this one. This was, in fact, the only film to feature the Jurassic Holy Trinity of Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern.
This one also feels the most special, as it was the first. It’s probably the best too but I really need to watch the second and third, as it’s been years.
Top to bottom, this is just fun, energetic, doesn’t have a dull moment and you find yourself getting lost in it. It’s a good movie to turn your brain off to and it’s still one of the greatest popcorn movies of its time.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: the other Jurassic Park/World films.
Also known as: ID Forever (working title), IDR (short title), Resurgence, Independence Day 2 (informal titles) Release Date: June 20th, 2016 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Roland Emmerich Written by: Nicholas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, James Vanderbilt Based on: characters by Dean Devlin, James A. Woods Music by: Thomas Wander, Harald Kloser Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Travis Tope, Sela Ward, Angelababy, Vivica A. Fox, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Ng Chin Han, Robert Loggia, Mckenna Grace
Centropolis Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, 120 Minutes
“We convinced an entire generation, that this is a battle that we could win. We sacrifice for each other no matter what the cost. And that’s worth fighting for.” – President Whitmore
When I saw this in the theater, there was that part of me that hoped this would be a sleeper hit that ended up impressing me, as opposed to being another half-assed sequel. Plus, I hadn’t liked anything that Roland Emmerich had done since the first Independence Day in 1996. But my absolute love of that film made me hopeful that this one would generate the same sort of effect that the first film had on me.
Initially, it didn’t and I was pretty disappointed with the final product. However, four years later a.k.a. now, I actually found this a bit more enjoyable. I think that mainly has to do with my love of the original core characters who returned.
This isn’t anywhere near as good or memorable as its predecessor but it’s still a fun, over-the-top blockbuster that uses Emmerich’s style better than any other film since the original Independence Day. This certainly blows Godzilla out of the water and it’s a better movie than The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 BC and 2012. I’d probably put The Patriot and White House Down ahead of it but I was extremely drunk when I saw White House Down, which is why I didn’t officially review it.
I liked Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch in this because they’re so good as father and son. I also liked what they did with Bill Pullman’s character and how they brought back Brent Spiner, who was still on his A-game even after a twenty year coma and new technologies that he had never worked with. But whatever, just turn your brain off; this is an Emmerich movie about kicking alien ass!
My biggest complaint about the film is the opposite of how I feel about most films and that’s that this needed more time to develop its characters and to get you more invested in it. Granted, I think they overdid it by trying to introduce so many characters for the next generation of heroes. It really only needed two or three core newbies and not a whole squad and separate environment with its own large supporting cast. Most of these characters don’t make much of an impact and are easily forgotten, unlike the first movie where even the small roles were memorable and felt important.
However, I like how this does make the human victory feel like a real team effort. That’s what I loved about the original story and this replicates that well, even if some people are lost in the shuffle.
I also liked the introduction of the aliens having a hive mind and a queen. While that’s nothing new, I liked how they made the queen massive and the final battle essentially turned the film into a kaiju movie. The only mistake with it was that the giant alien queen was thrown into the desert and not a city or populated area where she could smash buildings and bitchslap tanks.
In the end, this pales in comparison to the original but it expands the universe in a neat way and brings back characters you love, giving them more life.
Sadly, this under-performed and we most assuredly won’t get a third movie despite this ending in a way that made it seem like one was definitely coming. Despite this film’s overall quality, I would’ve liked to have seen a good, final chapter, making this a fun and entertaining trilogy where the lowly, primitive Earthlings finally destroyed the biggest threat to the universe.
Rating: 6.75/10 Pairs well with: it’s predecessor and other Roland Emmerich films or movies where Jeff Goldblum plays a heroic boffin.
While the first season of The World According to Jeff Goldblum isn’t done streaming yet, I didn’t want to wait too long to review it, as it was part of Disney+’s launch two months ago.
Plus, I get the gist of it enough to review it at this point.
The show stars Jeff Goldblum, who also is an executive producer. It’s made by National Geographic and I’m not sure if it was originally intended to be broadcast on Disney+ or if that became part of National Geographic’s deal with the service after production had started.
Needless to say, Goldblum has found a home at Disney, especially after captivating fans with his performance in Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Goldblum’s special charm, charisma and unique panache is on full display in this show, as he dives into different things that are all a part of Americana. He looks at sneakers, barbecue, cycling, ice cream, tattoos, denim and more.
What makes the show kind of cool, other than it being hosted by Goldblum, is that he didn’t study up on anything and pretty much deep dives into these things blindly and with just the knowledge from his own personal experiences.
I don’t think that this is a show that’s going to make or break Disney+ but Jeff Goldblum really gives it his all and entertains while informing the viewer. It’s a cool show that’s charming and amusing with a host whose energy and curiosity are infectious.
Also known as: The Sidewalk Vigilante (working title) Release Date: July 24th, 1974 Directed by: Michael Winner Written by: Wendell Mayes Based on:Death Wish by Brian Garfield Music by: Herbie Hancock Cast: Charles Bronson, Hope Lange, Vincent Gardenia, William Redfield, Stuart Margolin, Steven Keats, Jack Wallace, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Guest, Olympia Dukakis, Art Evans (uncredited)
Dino De Laurentiis Corporation, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, 94 Minutes
“Nothing to do but cut and run, huh? What else? What about the old American social custom of self-defense? If the police don’t defend us, maybe we ought to do it ourselves.” – Paul Kersey
While I still haven’t seen the 2018 remake of this film, I wanted to at least revisit the originals. I’ll probably check out the Bruce Willis starring remake pretty soon but it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen the original Paul Kersey clean up the mean streets of the United States.
In this, the first film of five, he cleans up the streets of New York City. He moves around from city to city in each film, as he can’t stay put in one place for too long.
Anyway, the film follows Paul Kersey, played by Chales Bronson, a man’s man. He is a pretty liberal and pacifistic guy until his wife is murdered and daughter raped and attacked in their home by vagrant, criminal scum. Kersey, unable to accept the failure of the system, becomes a vigilante and sparks a one man war on crime. However, his actions inspire the people of New York City to stand up and defend themselves as well. Soon, city officials want to put a lid on it but they kind of like Kersey, as crime rates are dropping and it looks good for the people in power.
This is a pretty political and social film for its day, as crime in New York City in the 1970s was at an all-time high and people were legitimately scared just walking down the street. I kind of wonder how the 2018 remake will address these issues, as Hollywood hates controversy these days, unless they’re reminding us of how much they hate Republicans, especially our current president. But I digress.
Charles Bronson is known for being a badass in a ton of films but this might be the best he’s ever been. It certainly evolved into his most famous role but playing a character five times will do that.
This is a gritty, realistic film. Bronson isn’t some invincible warrior, he is an everyday man, in over his head. A man with flaws and inexperience who fucks up because of that. But it’s his drive and ambition that really makes the character work. He is kind of driven by a type of mania, not caring that the law is on to him. He just commits to the bit, no matter what repercussions he may face. It’s refreshing to see, all these years later, because nowadays, everyone is a f’n John Wick or Frank Castle.
This first Death Wish movie is the best of the lot. But in saying that, it isn’t my personal favorite even though it’s the superior film. I really love the third one but I’ll get into that when I review it in the future.
But overall, this is a solid ’70s action flick with a giant barrel of testosterone concentrate.
Also, it is the film debut of Jeff Goldblum and has very early roles for Christopher Guest and Olympia Dukakis.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: its sequels and the Dirty Harry film series.
Also known as: It Had to be Jew, Anhedonia (working titles) Release Date: March 27th, 1977 (Filmex) Directed by: Woody Allen Written by: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman Music by: various Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Janet Margolin, Shelley Duvall, Christopher Walken, Colleen Dewhurst, Dick Cavett, John Glover, Mark Lenard, Jeff Goldblum, Beverly D’Angelo, Tracey Walter, Sigourney Weaver, Truman Capote, Laurie Bird
Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions, Rollins-Joffe Productions, United Artists, 93 Minutes
“[referring to California] It’s so clean out here.” – Annie Hall, “That’s because they don’t throw their garbage away, they turn it into television shows.” – Alvy Singer
I’m not what you would call a big Woody Allen fan but I do find a lot of his films to be amusing. This is one of them and this is also probably my favorite out of the Allen pictures that I’ve seen.
While I’ve seen all of the famous scenes from Annie Hall time and time again in documentaries and shows about movies, I’ve never seen this film in its entirety and in the proper sequence with all of the narrative context. In some ways, this film is actually kind of genius in how refreshing, original and authentic it feels. But I also didn’t know, until now, that this was sort of autobiographical in regards to Allen and Diane Keaton’s real romantic relationship a few years before this movie.
What makes this work so well is the natural chemistry between Allen and Keaton. But even then, Allen had solid chemistry in his scenes with Shelley Duvall and Carol Kane. It’s hard to say that he’s a great actor when he’s essentially just playing himself but his natural charm works wonders in this picture and it gives a certain life to scenes that may have felt dry if played by someone else.
Diane Keaton was lovable and fun in the picture and I think she is the real glue of the film, even more so than Allen. The reason being is that she just radiates a glow that encapsulates anyone on the screen with her. You clearly see the woman that Woody Allen is legitimately infatuated with.
From a narrative standpoint, this is Allen writing what he knows most intimately. But even then, I don’t think that this authentic tale would have had the magic without the performances in the film. This is lightyears better than a standard romantic comedy but I feel like that’s because the main players felt very at home with the material and they took this very seriously, where most romantic comedies tend to by cheesy and lacking depth in the performances of their actors.
Allen certainly knows how to direct and it is very apparent here. He gets the most out of everyone on screen, including himself. It’s easy to write about your life but it’s difficult to make something so genuine.
In the end, this is a fun, cute, lighthearted picture that presents romance and comedy in a unique way that is very much Woody Allen. He’s had similar films but nothing that hits the right notes in quite the same way.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with: other early Woody Allen films.