Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1977: Annie Hall (Woody Allen)
I really don’t know this film that well. In fact, I think I’ve only seen it once. As is probably clear by now, I usually privilege dramas over comedies. They affect me the most, plus they’re what I’m interested in making. All this to say, please excuse me for writing a less detailed piece for this year.
What I can say about Annie Hall is that it features one of Allen’s sharpest scripts and some of his most memorable characters. There’s a certain breeziness to its depth that keeps it running forward at a great clip. Woody Allen deserves more credit for his formal experimentation; his reputation is mostly as a simple comedy director, but his movies always feature a certain narrative complexity and bold formal elements. In Annie Hall these come mostly in the form of flashbacks, where Allen inserts himself in the frame as he analyzes the events that lead to later dysfunction.
Allen continues to be a major source of inspiration for me, less as a moviemaker than as a craftsman who’s been able to create a more liberated system of working than anyone else in American cinema. He can make movies whenever—and, it seems, with whomever—he wants. Any day in which you watch one of his films is a good day, and I look forward to many more moments with this one.
What moviemakers can learn: It is important to watch movies if you want to learn from other moviemakers. It is also important to read books on certain directors—like Allen and Clint Eastwood—to find out how they were able to make their movies. Allen and Eastwood have both created extraordinary systems for themselves that allow them to make movies with almost unrivaled freedom and directorial control.
Other contenders for 1977: I still have some titles I need to see from this year. These include: Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Marble, Alain Resnais’ Providence, Jean Eustache’s Une sale histoire (A Dirty Story) and Dario Argento’s Suspiria. I really like Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire and David Lynch’s Eraserhead. And my closest runner-up is Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.