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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:02 pm 

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Woody Allen (1935-)

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Filmography

What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

Take the Money and Run (1969)

Bananas (1971)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)

Sleeper (1973)

Love and Death (1975)

Annie Hall (1977)

Interiors (1978)

Manhattan (1979)

Stardust Memories (1980)

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)

Zelig (1983)

Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Radio Days (1987)

September (1987)

Another Woman (1988)

New York Stories segment Oedipus Wrecks (1989)

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Alice (1990)

Shadows and Fog (1992)

Husbands and Wives (1992)

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

Don't Drink the Water (1994)

Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

Celebrity (1998)

Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

Small Time Crooks (2000)

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)

Hollywood Ending (2002)

Anything Else (2003)

Melinda and Melinda (2004)

Match Point (2005)

Scoop (2006)

Cassandra's Dream (2007)


Forum Discussions

Books about Woody Allen

Cassandra's Dream (2007)

The Great Woody Allen Debate

Meetin' W.A. (Godard, 1986)

Match Point (2005)

Melinda & Melinda (2004)

Scoop (2006)


Web Resources

Comprehensive Fan Resource Site

Senses of Cinema

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:02 pm 
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It seems everyone is of the opinion that Woody Allen has really gone downhill in the past decade. I have become a huge fan of his during that time and love almost all of his films (except, perhaps, "Interiors", "Curse Of The Jade Scorpion", and "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex..."). I think he has made several masterpieces throughout his career, in each decade he's been working (the last 5 years excluded). While I agree that something is "off" in his recent work (maybe since "Celebrity" but definitely since he signed with Dreamworks), I can't put my finger on it. I do feel that his last 2 or 3 films are putting him back on track, and I've only heard good things about the upcoming "Match Point".

So, what's the problem? His recent films, for me, are just slightly less funny, and slightly less poignant than his earlier work. It may be simply a matter of length; when his movies were 90 minutes long, they were excellent. In recent years, as his films tend to get stretched to around 120 minutes, they feel looser and less focused. There are great moments that I really enjoy in all of his films, but his work prior to the mid-90's never lagged at all. That's really oversimplifying things, I realize, but it's an observation. And I'm just trying to get the ball rolling on the topic.

Anyway, I think he's one of America's best directors, and I'm curious about what others think about him and his work.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:28 am 
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I used to love Woody Allen but his films now are just weak. There are jokes but they are a bit on the easy side and without the great punchlines you would find in LOVE AND DEATH or ANNIE HALL. Thematically, the films are a bit more aimless and there aren't the deep moments we used to see in CRIMES AND MISDEMEANERS or HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. At best, his new films are high concept but lacking the polish of his early films. At worst they're unwatchable. CELEBRITY and JADE SCORPION being examples of the latter.

My friends all think that Allen is just shooting his first draft these days. He'll write a script in a couple of weeks and then shoot it without giving it too much thought. Each one also feels like a short story that doesn't quite deserve the big screen treatment. Plus, his neurotic wit isn't that fresh or different anymore. After SEINFELD, Allen just feels dated.

Though I still love his older films. I even kind of like SWEET AND LOWDOWN.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:34 am 
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I love Woody Allen--because I live in a time capsule where I watch the same Woody Allen films over and over again:

Manhattan
Annie Hall
Hannah and Her Sisters
Stardust Memories


I have a few others but I don't watch them. I've seen his recent films and they are just films that blend in with the rest of the movie landscape; that is, not exactly a waste of the time invested--nor money as I only rent them--but not exactly memorable AS Woody Allen films. Plus, the older he gets the sillier he looks prancing around with younger gals.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:30 am 
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jorencain wrote:
So, what's the problem? His recent films, for me, are just slightly less funny, and slightly less poignant than his earlier work.

There was a really good article published in The New York Times awhile ago which talks about the critical and commercial reaction to Woody's films and what happened to him.

Here's an interesting excerpt:

Quote:
But what if this is not an anxiety at all - not a well-founded fear that an admired artist has lost his touch - but rather an expectation? While it's hard to deny that Mr. Allen's output has been uneven of late, his failures and near-misses seem to provoke a disproportionate - even a neurotic - reaction precisely among those most disposed to admiration. What if we - and by "we" I mean the legions (or at least dozens) of young (or at least gracefully middle-aged) intellectuals (or at least newspaper readers) with battered used-bookstore copies of "Getting Even" and "Without Feathers" at their bedside and long passages of dialogue from "Sleeper" and "Love and Death" in their heads - go to the new Woody Allen movie because we want to feel let down, abandoned, betrayed? We are all aware that the man has problems of his own, but what if the dissatisfaction we feel with his work is, at bottom, our problem?

I get the feeling that Scott is arguing in his article that die hard Woody fans want him to just keep making Annie Hall and Manhattan again and again. And that his current output is constantly judged against these masterpieces. Or, as he puts it, we
Quote:
are found wanting because they don't live up to our memories of what the earlier ones meant to us.

I think Scott nailed it right on the head with that line. The problem, at least that I have, with Woody's output from the '90s on is that it is so uneven. There have been some good movies (Manhattan Murder Mystery, Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite) and some clunkers too but it is like any prolific filmmaker fans have their favorites. But even the recent films of his that I cherish (I think that Manhattan Murder Mystery is my fave film of his in the '90s if only because it evokes Woody's early career by re-teaming with Diane Keaton and screenwriting partner Marshall Brickman) aren't quite up to snuff with his earlier stuff. I don't know if its just because he's recycling old shtick or he's making too many movies and so the quality is spotty....


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:42 am 
wax on; wax off
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I think part of the problem for Woody is age. His great output was focused on being middle-aged or approaching middle age, along with the anxieties attached. Now as he is gently rolling past those mid-life crisis fertile years he is having trouble finding a proper voice.

Possible story ideas for W.Allen in the future:
--Life as an aging shut-in in ritzy Manhattan
--Retiring to Florida and unleashing his schtick on the blue hair circuit
--Gambling odyssey to Vegas perhaps with a busload of blue-hairs from self-same Florida retirement community as above (with an Ocean's 13 circus stumbling about in the background to spice it up)

I just hope that some day he pulls an 8 1/2 climax and has all his cast of characters past and present parade about in a giant circus ring. The whole lot and from his private life as well: Soon-yi and Andre Previn as well, not to mention Mia.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:11 am 
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My love for Woody Allen sprouted in the early 80s after watching Manhattan which ended up being my favorite film throughout the 80s until Blue Velvet came out. (Ironically, Allen later thought Blue Velvet was the best film of the 80s!). As a young boy, I was overwhelmed by the film's artistry. I never understood how the luminous black & white cinematography could make Manhattan the most magical world. No one in the entire body of Allens films could capture me as completely as the magnificent Mariel Hemingway.

To this day, Manhattan is Woody Allen's best film. I adore Hannah and Her Sisters mainly for its one of kind, nostalgic air of New York autumn and of course, Dianne Wiest. Sometimes Broadway Danny Rose shows up on my list of favorite films - truly the best Thanksgiving film all around.

About his recent films, they are still forgivable since Allen had already hit his artistic peak nearly 30 years ago. In fact, my partner who is ten years younger than me prefers his newer films and I still cringe whenever he speaks so highly of Small Town Crooks and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. I know somebody (also a lot younger than me) who thinks Celebrity is the greatest film ever made. If I'm not mistaken, I remember Dylan (a fine young member of this forum) expressing his love for Celebrity, even calling it a masterpiece some time ago. So if Woody Allen manages to touch the hearts of the younger generations, then he must be doing okay.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:39 am 
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Michael wrote:
To this day, Manhattan is Woody Allen's best film.

It always disturbs me when one of you experts make such declarations. We aren't listening or impressed. Woody has about a dozen or so great and re-watchable films..none recently though.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:56 am 
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I agree: Manhattan is definitely Woody Allen's best film.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:15 pm 
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flambeur wrote:
Michael wrote:
To this day, Manhattan is Woody Allen's best film.

It always disturbs me when one of you experts make such declarations. We aren't listening or impressed. Woody has about a dozen or so great and re-watchable films..none recently though.

OK, would it saitisfy you if he said "I think Manhattan is Woody Allen's best film"? Damn. We know that it's his opinion-nobody's declaring it as fact. Anyway, I love Manhattan as well, and it amazes me that Woody hated it so much that he was going to make another film for free if the studio agreed to not release it.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:16 pm 
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Quote:
Woody has about a dozen or so great and re-watchable films..none recently though.

Oh yes. Absolutely! And I'm listening. It's merely my opinion just like it's your opinion that Woody has about a dozen or so great and re-watchable films..none recently though. I'm sure there are some folks who disagree with you. Forgive me for being blunt.

If you were really listening, then you would have seen that I wrote how some folks actually think his recent films are great films! No way I would ever think less of those folks simply because they worship Celebrity or Small Town Crooks even though I cringe. :D I'm happy that Woody still manages to reach different people of all generations and from every walk of life. But most importantly, Woody is still alive and making films. Looking forward very much to seeing Match Point which is getting great reviews. For your info, I'm no expert on Woody Allen or film in general... never intended to be one. I'm here because I love film. That's it.


Last edited by Michael on Mon Jul 11, 2005 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:37 pm 
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Well said! And incidentally, I completely agree with you re: Blue Velvet. I too love Manhattan and feel that it is his best film to date. As you pointed out, the cinematography is gorgeous -- one of the best b&w films to come out in the last 30 years. Not only that but it such an unabashed love letter to NYC. When I was younger watching Manhattan always made me want to move to and live in the city and then when I did finally get the chance it was everything I thought it'd be. I even did the cheesy film geek thing and track down some of the more famous spots shown in the movie. It is one of those rare movies I can pull out and watch any time.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 1:03 pm 
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The thing with Woody Allen (and I'm obviously a big fan) is that he needs to get a new "roommate" - we all know his past record of relationships enough to assume it's now time to break with his present one and move to another very, er, "soon"... - and a new "partner in crime" - he always worked better and made better films when he had a great leading lady to write his "Fall Projects" for (and to fall in love with...). In those two respects, he's never been more close at emulating his swedish idol's working methods...!

Apparently, we might be all in for a pleasant surprise with his upcoming Match Point which seems to be getting rave reviews everywhere it's opened/premiered. And with Scarlett Johansson already cast for his next one, he might just have found his career salvation board (though one hopes that doesn't go as far as that...).

About his body of work, I guess he has made so many films that he has catered for everyone's tastes along the line so it's quite hard to decide which ones are really his best. For my part, I have to say that if there is one film that I completely identify with, it has to be Annie Hall. And quite why, I don't know. All I know is that everytime I watch it, I am transfixed as if witnessing an exagerated, fantasized, soap-opera'd version of my life on screen.

Oh, and speaking of Bergman, Woody's trio of movie homages to him, namely Interiors, September and Another Woman are undoubtedly among my very favorite of his so I guess to each his own.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 4:07 pm 
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Lino wrote:
Oh, and speaking of Bergman, Woody's trio of movie homages to him, namely Interiors, September and Another Woman are undoubtedly among my very favorite of his so I guess to each his own.

I can really do without "Interiors" but I absolutely love the other 2, and "September" is definitely one of his 3 or 4 best films, in my opinion. It's a really amazing ensemble piece, and it's sad that the original version that he filmed will most likely never show up. I'd be very interested in seeing that. Even though it has much in common with a Bergman "chamber film", it's very much Woody Allen holding his own, and it doesn't feel like a rip-off in any way. To me, at least.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 7:10 pm 
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Lino wrote:
Oh, and speaking of Bergman, Woody's trio of movie homages to him, namely Interiors, September and Another Woman are undoubtedly among my very favorite of his

I agree that's quite an appropriate trio of homages to Bergman, but for me September has always been Allen's homage to Chekhov (think of Uncle Vanya and you'll find quite a few similarities in the plot, characters and the relationship between them).
September is probably the by movie by Allen which has touched me the most. Mia Farrow's character leaves me with the same heartbreak every time the credits roll in.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 7:36 pm 

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Coming into this debate, I think I agree with most of what is being said: I love classic Woody Allen, some of his recent output has been less than spectacular (although I personally thought Anything Else was a bit of a return to form). I loved Another Woman and September, and would have loved Interiors were it not for the terrible musical interlude in the middle that kills the mood the entire movie for me everytime I see it. The two other highlights for me from him are Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The one place that I disagree with the consensus is that I just did not get Manhattan at all. I thought the cinematography was amazing, and I loved the B&W look and feel of the film, but I thought the secondary performances were terrible, and I just did not get into the central relationships at all. By the end of the movie, I felt like the film had come and gone and left me with nothing, no one to empathize with, no experiences to relate to, nothing but a good-looking film. I've seen it twice and had the same response both times. Can someone enlighten me as to what I am missing with this one?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:18 am 
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mmacklem wrote:
I've seen it twice and had the same response both times. Can someone enlighten me as to what I am missing with this one?

Here's a link to a nice appreciation of the film. Personally, I love that it captures a certain time and place. A Manhattan that doesn't exist anymore (did it ever?). The dialogue just crackles and pops -- there's a rhythm to it that is excellent (for example, take the exchange between Isaac and Yale near the end of the film when they argue over Mary), the scene were Isaac is on the couch listing off things that make life worth living (a classic scene if there ever was one), and, of course, Isaac's dash through the streets of NYC to catch Tracy before she leaves for England.

Manhattan works so well because it is such a well-acted, directed and written film. It makes some very astute observations about relationships and about making choices in life. Having said that, it's not everyone's cup of tea either.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 10:25 am 
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From the Film Journal article. "Manhattan became timeless in Manhattan." That sentence says it all. Allen uses the photography and music and everything including the actors to evoke the love he has for the city, making Manhattan a very personal film. I also agree with everything Fletch wrote previously.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 5:24 pm 
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Woody Allen seems totally lost his wonderful touch that showed in such movies like 'annie hall', 'manhattan', and 'hannah and her sisters'. His recent outings go from mediocre to outright silly.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 6:42 pm 
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Quote:
the scene were Isaac is on the couch listing off things that make life worth living (a classic scene if there ever was one),

That passage of writing does have one major flaw though. Woody, the actor, plays a divorced father in Manhattan and left out his son on the list. Probably a sign of his self-obsession at the time, but as a writer should have been more aware.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:19 pm 

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I too keep seeing his movies, still hoping that they'll be up to his best work. One of the problems that some critics have pointed out is that a number of his recent movies all deal with younger characters and he just has a tin ear for the way young people talk and interact these days. If you see "Melinda and Melinda" or "Anything Else", for example, the conversations just sound stilted - I mean conversations about Mahler or Duke Ellington or Freud, etc., which 20-somethings I know just don't have. And -- also frequently remarked upon -- which 20-year-old struggling actors have these spacious, extravagant apartments in Manhattan?

When he sticks to his age and social group he can still do magnificent things. I agree about how good "Manhattan Murder Mystery" is. I think it's one of his very best and funniest films, and also quite a perceptive and touching comedy about marriage (great performance by Keaton). I wish he'd make more like that one. Maybe he needs a Marshall Brickman to co-write with more frequently?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:29 pm 
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I agree about sticking to his age. The recent proof of this can be seen in "Small Time Crooks", in his relationship with Elaine May. Although the movie isn't one of his greatest, she's hilarious, and they seem very natural and real (despite their goofiness) together. He also didn't place himself as the romantic lead in "Anything Else", and his mentor character was wonderful, I thought. The only problem with that movie, though, is that EVERYONE in it is playing the "Woody Allen" character. Just too much stammering. If only Woody would reign them in a little...he was the only one who used to act like that in each film (besides Mia Farrow, maybe). Even in "Bullets Over Broadway" or "Celebrity" there was only one "Woody Allen" character and it worked out fine, for me at least.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 10:14 am 
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jonjao wrote:
When he sticks to his age and social group he can still do magnificent things. I agree about how good "Manhattan Murder Mystery" is. I think it's one of his very best and funniest films, and also quite a perceptive and touching comedy about marriage (great performance by Keaton). I wish he'd make more like that one. Maybe he needs a Marshall Brickman to co-write with more frequently?

I think Woody's young-person-talk still rings true, just for a specific type of young person. I agree that it's nowhere near what you come across everyday, but these are Woody Allen characters; they were never mainstream, well-adjusted people. I'm in my 20s and I have pointlessly formal conversations about obscure historical figures all the time out in public. Granted, I've probably had an unhealthfully large amount of my personality affected by the Woody Allen classics, but I doubt Alvy Singer or Isaac Davis would have sounded like a typical young person when they were in their 20s either.

As far as Woody's acting, I do think he does great things sticking to his age. Both in "Manhattan Murder Mystery" and "Anything Else" I thought his older-self characters were wonderfully realized. I've never actually personally known someone like Woody's "mentor" character from "Anything Else," but having watched the film I almost feel like I have.

jorencain wrote:
The only problem with that movie, though, is that EVERYONE in it is playing the "Woody Allen" character. Just too much stammering.

Agreed. Could Jason Biggs have had any more sweeping hand gestures? I'm still really really excited waiting for "Match Point." Woody Allen is one of a small handful of directors whose new films I anxiously jump at the chance to see as soon as they open near me.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:26 pm 
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jonjao wrote:
When he sticks to his age and social group he can still do magnificent things. I agree about how good "Manhattan Murder Mystery" is. I think it's one of his very best and funniest films, and also quite a perceptive and touching comedy about marriage (great performance by Keaton). I wish he'd make more like that one. Maybe he needs a Marshall Brickman to co-write with more frequently?

Yeah, I wish he would hook up with Brickman again. I IMDB'd the guy and he has a pretty small output. He seems to be Woody's best writing partner. I agree with what you're saying about Woody sticking to his age and social group. I can see why he's casting young 'uns like Jason Biggs and Scarlett Johanssen or even someone like Will Ferrell in this most recent movies. He wants to appeal to a larger audience.... esp. if he wants to continue to get studio backing. But I think he is out of his element when writing for their characters -- case in point, Anything Else.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:22 pm 
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I think Allen's last true masterpiece was Husbands and Wives. There have been a few fun ones since then, and then a few unwatchables (I think Celebrity is his worst, Nykvist's camerawork aside).

And I guess only Michael and I think Broadway Danny Rose is up there with the best of them. For me it's Annie Hall & Danny. In the next tier fall a ton of others (Hannah, Manhattan, Crimes, Zelig), but those two floor me every time, and believe me, I've seen them each dozens of times, Annie Hall probably over two dozen-- and it just keeps getting better!


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