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Annie Hall

Annie Hall  

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  1. 1. Does "Annie Hall" belong on the AFI list?

    • The only word for this is transplendent. It's transplendent!
      3
    • The only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.
      5

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  • Poll closed on 11/29/19 at 08:00 AM

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Paul & Amy clear their throat for 1977's Woody Allen breakthrough "Annie Hall"! They ask how autobiographical the film is, learn who else was considered for that Marshall McLuhan cameo, and decide if the list absolutely needs a Woody Allen film. Plus: Tony Roberts, who plays Rob in the film, talks about his relationship with Woody.

Pitch us your "Raging ___" film! Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer. Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

This episode is brought to you by Invitae (www.invitae.com) and Amex.

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This movie helped me identify and begin to deal with my anxiety, specifically the scene where Alvy suddenly recovers from his "illness" the second he no longer has to present that award. The movie became serious at that point ("Oh my god....that's ME. I need to do something about this.").

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This rewatch showed me how inventive the movie is, in a way I didn't expect. Someone on the Facebook group made a comment that Annie Hall basically does all of the same kind of cinematic inventiveness that you find in something like Pulp Fiction: a non-linear narrative, self-awareness, pop cultural references, even a spot of animation, etc. Only the tone and subject matter are very different. That's true. I think it's far too influential a movie to leave off the list, regardless of what one may feel about Woody Allen the person.

Personally, I also find it profound in different ways as I get older (as Amy does). Now that I'm married with kids I don't find it as much an of-the-moment chronicle of single dating life, rather a wistful reminder of what that used to be like. Only, the movie has that depth in it too! It ends with Alvy reminiscing about his relationship with Annie, remembering the good times, remarking on how they don't last but they stay with you. Woody Allen the writer seems a lot more self-aware than Woody Allen the person.

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It's unfortunate that the first words out of Amy's mouth concerning "What we know" about Woody Allen are wrong.  She says, "Very established, nobody disagrees on, that he cheated on his wife, Mia Farrow, with their adopted daughter and then married her..." Here is the truth.

1 - Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were in a 12 year relationship, but the were never married and never even co-habitated. Soon-Yi says he never kept any clothes there, or even a toothbrush.

2 - Soon-Yi's last name is Previn because she was adopted by Mia Farrow and Andre Previn. She is in no way Woody Allen's adopted daughter.

So, no, not "very established" and many people, most importantly the people involved, would disagree.

I love you guys and I love the show, but it makes me crazy how many people believe this stuff because people like Amy keep saying them.

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31 minutes ago, SadieB47 said:

It's unfortunate that the first words out of Amy's mouth concerning "What we know" about Woody Allen are wrong.  She says, "Very established, nobody disagrees on, that he cheated on his wife, Mia Farrow, with their adopted daughter and then married her..." Here is the truth.

1 - Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were in a 12 year relationship, but the were never married and never even co-habitated. Soon-Yi says he never kept any clothes there, or even a toothbrush.

2 - Soon-Yi's last name is Previn because she was adopted by Mia Farrow and Andre Previn. She is in no way Woody Allen's adopted daughter.

So, no, not "very established" and many people, most importantly the people involved, would disagree.

I love you guys and I love the show, but it makes me crazy how many people believe this stuff because people like Amy keep saying them.

Yeah, I didn't want to start this thread with a discussion of Woody Allen's personal life and the Farrows' accusations against him, but this is all true. Lots of people believe the "fact" that "Woody Allen married his own daughter," but that is not correct. To take it a step further, Woody, Mia, and Soon-Yi all agreed in separate statements that he had never been much of a father-figure to her and didn't have much to do with her until after she had left for college, when Mia suggested they should spend more time together and not be so distant (I'm sure she regrets that). Also, Woody never moved in to Mia's house; he always kept his own residence. All of this is confirmed on all sides.

I think people can still certainly take moral exception to what Woody Allen DID do (start a secret affair with his girlfriend's adopted daughter), but we should be accurate about what happened.

Finally, I know a lot of people are very certain that Woody Allen molested his daughter Dylan Farrow when she was 7 years old, but I would suggest reading what her older brother Moses Farrow has to say about that and how he was treated by Mia. I think you might not be so certain after that. I still understand wanting to avoid his work or feeling weird about watching it, but I think it's important to know everything that's out there for public consumption before forming an opinion.

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Speaking of being accurate and knowing everything out there -- let's not just mention Moses Farrow while ignoring the work of Ronan Farrow, who is on Dylan's side. Moses may defend Woody, but if I recall, the rest of the family disagrees and cut Moses out. 

And whether or not Mia/Woody were married, or Soon Yi was his adopted daughter or someone else's, it's not right. I don't believe he married his own daughter, but whatever he did, it's wrong. I agree it's maybe more borderline on the acceptability scale than is often portrayed or discussed; but still... why defend it? I mean, how many movies has Woody Allen made about him being hot for a girl far too young? Here is this story.

Anyway, yea I don't know if this is the forum for this. Or maybe it is. Not trying to argue, just want to say that the anti-Woody facts aren't that insane to grasp on to.

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1 hour ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Speaking of being accurate and knowing everything out there -- let's not just mention Moses Farrow while ignoring the work of Ronan Farrow, who is on Dylan's side. Moses may defend Woody, but if I recall, the rest of the family disagrees and cut Moses out. 

And whether or not Mia/Woody were married, or Soon Yi was his adopted daughter or someone else's, it's not right. I don't believe he married his own daughter, but whatever he did, it's wrong. I agree it's maybe more borderline on the acceptability scale than is often portrayed or discussed; but still... why defend it? I mean, how many movies has Woody Allen made about him being hot for a girl far too young? Here is this story.

Anyway, yea I don't know if this is the forum for this. Or maybe it is. Not trying to argue, just want to say that the anti-Woody facts aren't that insane to grasp on to.

Ronan clearly believes Dylan's story is true, but he was also four years old at the time so I don't think he has first-hand knowledge. Given what Moses and Soon-Yi say about Mia playing favorites with her kids, I don't think it's far-fetched to think that he was closer to his mother than they were and therefore more likely to take her side.

And no, I am not defending Woody Allen's actions in starting an affair with Soon-Yi. Clearly morally wrong. I am just bothered by incorrect facts getting bandied about, and in this case I see a lot of them whenever the subject is raised in virtually any forum, including during Amy's disclaimer in the podcast episode.

EDIT: In the interests of full accuracy, here's a slate of links on both sides of the question. I would encourage everyone to read everything.

Dylan Farrow's direct accusation: https://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/an-open-letter-from-dylan-farrow/
Ronan Farrow's opinion on the matter: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/my-father-woody-allen-danger-892572
A Maureen Orth column that got a lot of play: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2014/02/woody-allen-sex-abuse-10-facts

Robert Weide (a Woody Allen biographer, and also the guy who directed Curb Your Enthusiasm) rebuts all of the above here: https://ronanfarrowletter.wordpress.com/2019/04/08/the-truth-about-woody-allen-part-i/
Moses Farrow's statements: http://mosesfarrow.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-son-speaks-out-by-moses-farrow.html
Soon-Yi Previn interviewed: https://www.vulture.com/2018/09/soon-yi-previn-speaks.html

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I'm quite a bit surprised that the first reaction to how Paul and Amy treated the controversial aspects of Woody Allen was that they went too hard on him.  I personally think they handled the situation well, but if anything, they mostly let him off.  Granted, I'm someone who also struggles to reconcile with how much I love so much of Woody Allen's work, even up to and including the relatively recent Midnight in Paris.  And I wasn't exactly following Woody Allen in 1992 (my cinematic highlight of the year was seeing Aladdin in a theater), so I didn't know about the Dylan accusations until they resurfaced in 2014.  This week's rewatch of Annie Hall was the first time I've tried watching one of his films since then.  But first, about the Soon-Yi bits:

3 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Speaking of being accurate and knowing everything out there -- let's not just mention Moses Farrow while ignoring the work of Ronan Farrow, who is on Dylan's side. Moses may defend Woody, but if I recall, the rest of the family disagrees and cut Moses out. 

And whether or not Mia/Woody were married, or Soon Yi was his adopted daughter or someone else's, it's not right. I don't believe he married his own daughter, but whatever he did, it's wrong. I agree it's maybe more borderline on the acceptability scale than is often portrayed or discussed; but still... why defend it? I mean, how many movies has Woody Allen made about him being hot for a girl far too young? Here is this story.

Anyway, yea I don't know if this is the forum for this. Or maybe it is. Not trying to argue, just want to say that the anti-Woody facts aren't that insane to grasp on to.

I agree with everything said here, and I just want to mention Ronan in relation to the Soon-Yi thing.  Because sure, Soon-Yi was not Woody Allen's adopted daughter, and sure, he wasn't even married to the woman who did adopt her.  But here's another fact (as Ronan himself has pointed out): Ronan Farrow's father married Ronan's sister.  I don't get why anyone wants to die on the hill of defending that as anything but abnormal behavior.

As far as the Dylan accusations, I don't have much to say, except:

2 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I am just bothered by incorrect facts getting bandied about, and in this case I see a lot of them whenever the subject is raised in virtually any forum, including during Amy's disclaimer in the podcast episode.

EDIT: In the interests of full accuracy, here's a slate of links on both sides of the question. I would encourage everyone to read everything.

Dylan Farrow's direct accusation: https://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/an-open-letter-from-dylan-farrow/
Ronan Farrow's opinion on the matter: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/my-father-woody-allen-danger-892572
A Maureen Orth column that got a lot of play: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2014/02/woody-allen-sex-abuse-10-facts

Robert Weide (a Woody Allen biographer, and also the guy who directed Curb Your Enthusiasm) rebuts all of the above here: https://ronanfarrowletter.wordpress.com/2019/04/08/the-truth-about-woody-allen-part-i/
Moses Farrow's statements: http://mosesfarrow.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-son-speaks-out-by-moses-farrow.html
Soon-Yi Previn interviewed: https://www.vulture.com/2018/09/soon-yi-previn-speaks.html

First, thanks to sycasey for sharing these links.  The problem with these cases is usually a lack of verifiable facts.  But this is something that stuck out to me.  From Ronan Farrow's Hollywood Reporter op-ed: "My mother and the prosecutor decided not to subject my sister to more years of mayhem. In a rare step, the prosecutor announced publicly that he had "probable cause" to prosecute Allen, and attributed the decision not to do so to "the fragility of the child victim.""
And from Robert Weide's rebuttal: "The fact is that these lengthy investigations — which were ordered by the prosecution, by the way — concluded that the abuse did not take place. Consequently, no charges were ever brought against Allen. That’s the reason it went away for all those years. A legal determination had been made, after which everyone went about their business."

It seems to me that one of those statements has to be verifiably false, in that the prosecution either had probable cause to go ahead with the case or they didn't.  Weide bends the facts a bit, in that while the Yale/New Haven clinic investigation gave an opinion that the abuse did not take place, the other investigation he cites didn't actually give a conclusion besides a lack of evidence.  But ultimately, if "facts" as basic as this can't be verified or disputed, the truth about what actually happened will never be revealed and uncontended.

But like AlmostAGhost said, Allen has ultimately dug his own grave in regards to public perception by repeatedly dating (or trying to date) teenagers.  And then he didn't help himself a couple years ago during the Weinstein ouster when he used the term "witch hunt" in regards to workplace sexual harassment.  The sum of it all leaves me where Amy seemed to be in this episode: despite how I feel about his earlier films, I will probably never watch another of his new films, and I sort of wish he'd just stop, or fade away.

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11 hours ago, bleary said:

I'm quite a bit surprised that the first reaction to how Paul and Amy treated the controversial aspects of Woody Allen was that they went too hard on him.  I personally think they handled the situation well, but if anything, they mostly let him off.

I can't speak for everyone, but for myself: I don't think they went too hard on Allen, and I did like that the discussion was primarily confined to the movie itself and not the various controversies from Allen's personal life. As I noted, I wasn't going to lead with a discussion of that, but since someone else brought up the subject I figured I'd contribute as well.

To me this isn't about saying they went too hard on Allen or even defending him, more about making sure the true facts are entered for discussion. I'm sure Amy and the podcast staff did their best, but her disclaimer contained some things that were not true, so I think it's worthwhile correcting them. A lot of that other stuff I brought up are things that I frequently see people getting wrong about Woody Allen so I figured I would preemptively get the real facts on record. I certainly don't think the real facts absolve Woody Allen in a moral sense. He deserves plenty of blame here.

12 hours ago, bleary said:

First, thanks to sycasey for sharing these links.  The problem with these cases is usually a lack of verifiable facts.  But this is something that stuck out to me.  From Ronan Farrow's Hollywood Reporter op-ed: "My mother and the prosecutor decided not to subject my sister to more years of mayhem. In a rare step, the prosecutor announced publicly that he had "probable cause" to prosecute Allen, and attributed the decision not to do so to "the fragility of the child victim.""
And from Robert Weide's rebuttal: "The fact is that these lengthy investigations — which were ordered by the prosecution, by the way — concluded that the abuse did not take place. Consequently, no charges were ever brought against Allen. That’s the reason it went away for all those years. A legal determination had been made, after which everyone went about their business."

It seems to me that one of those statements has to be verifiably false, in that the prosecution either had probable cause to go ahead with the case or they didn't.  Weide bends the facts a bit, in that while the Yale/New Haven clinic investigation gave an opinion that the abuse did not take place, the other investigation he cites didn't actually give a conclusion besides a lack of evidence.  But ultimately, if "facts" as basic as this can't be verified or disputed, the truth about what actually happened will never be revealed and uncontended.

Yeah, these are definitely two different spins on the same topic, not unlike you might see in politics (Democrats have one spin on something, Republicans another).

The truth is probably impossible to know, but personally I find Weide's conclusions more credible. Ronan Farrow was four years old at the time this was going on, so I very much doubt he really knew what was happening in 1991. His story seems to be from what his mother and other family members have told him in the years since. Weide is focused almost purely on what evidence we know is public, and IMO it makes sense that once the Yale psychiatric team came back with their determination that there was probably no abuse, that was game over for a criminal prosecution and concerns about the child's welfare in a trial were immaterial at that point. Farrow is correct that the prosecutor (Frank Maco) did use the term "probable cause" in saying he still thought Allen was guilty, but the underlying truth is that he didn't have a case. The state-ordered investigations turned up nothing.

Personally? I lean towards the belief that Allen likely did not molest Dylan, but if course there is no way to be sure. If he is guilty of that then IMO that is reason to effectively "cancel" him as an artist going forward. For me, his relationship with Soon-Yi, though started under very icky circumstances, is not enough. They are consenting adults making their own choices. His dating of 16-year-olds at a time when that was actually fairly common practice in NYC is also not enough, though I may personally disapprove of it. Others may draw their own lines.

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To pivot it back to the movie, I don't think Paul and Amy were that hard on Allen, but agree that wasn't the point of the podcast. Still, they were maybe WAY too amazed by the movie, like even expressing wonder that anyone could dislike it. Well, guess what?

I can recognize the innovation in the scripting (but apparently that was found via editing so...?) and the central relationship (which I hesitate to call love, but that's why it's unique), but I don't particularly enjoy sitting through the film. It's just too misanthropic in its humor, which I find to be dated and not unenjoyable. Humor is subjective though, I guess. And I realize that misanthropy is the point of the character, Alvy maybe is a bit of an anti-hero. To me, it's almost similar to Taxi Driver, where people are connecting to the main character, but I'm like "oh no, you should not be." (And I actually like Taxi Driver a lot, a movie can work with out that.)

But as Sycasey noted above, Woody Allen has a huge lack of self-awareness as a person... so I'm not super convinced he has it as a writer either, so I find Alvy confusing as presented.

The ending does save it somewhat, though, I'll add. There is some complicated emotion and feelings presented here which it does maybe get right. I'm rambling I think, I don't know. It is a movie to think about, that's for sure. 

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59 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

But as Sycasey noted above, Woody Allen has a huge lack of self-awareness as a person... so I'm not super convinced he has it as a writer either, so I find Alvy confusing as presented.

If I didn't know about Woody Allen seemingly being hugely oblivious and completely lacking self-awareness in real life I wouldn't even question it, as to me the content of his movies shows a lot of self-awareness and self-criticism. Why else have the scene at the end of Annie Hall where Alvy writes a play about his relationship with Annie, completely changes the ending to have them get back together, then turns to the camera and explains why he did that? That's about as self-aware as it gets.

I suppose he wouldn't be the first artist to show great insight in his work but completely lack it in his own personal life.

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On 11/22/2019 at 11:57 AM, AlmostAGhost said:

It's just too misanthropic in its humor, which I find to be dated and not unenjoyable.

I definitely felt that way about a lot of Alvy's jokes on this rewatch.  I do think that much of the character-based humor still works, but it's a bummer when Alvy has the last line and it's something unnecessarily negative.  (A couple quick examples: When the dude on the street says that he and his wife use a large vibrating egg, that's a fantastic laugh line, so it's a little uncalled for when Alvy immediately calls him a psychopath.  The gag with Christopher Walken's monologue leading into him driving them to the airport is great, and doesn't need Alvy's "due back on the planet Earth" retort.)  And although the character is made to be unlikeable, I actually don't think that was Allen's intention in these situations, since as Tony Roberts said in the interview, Allen always saw himself capable of having the funniest final word, but that wasn't the case a lot of times.  

As you said, and as we've said over and over on this podcast and forum when discussing comedies, finding humor is subjective and personal.  But that said, I still find so many of the side characters to be incredibly funny, particularly Shelley Duvall's and Janet Margolin's characters and how they show a sort of farcical intellectualism.  A lot of the LA party humor still works (what with the discussions of taking meetings and Jeff Goldblum's fantastic single line).  And a lot of Alvy's humor works when it's pointed at himself rather than at others.

I want to say that leaving all of Allen's controversies aside, I really love this film, as Amy and Paul do.  My biggest issue is my own difficulty at leaving Allen's controversies aside.  Whether he's innocent or guilty of what he's been accused of, the fact of the matter is that I can imagine him being guilty, and that sours my view of his work at least a little.  I also understand how people who believe he's not guilty would view his work differently, or even people who take the position that this work occurred before his alleged actions.  I still voted for inclusion, because I do love the film, but unfortunately, I don't see myself returning to it as much as I did before 2014.

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On 11/22/2019 at 8:57 AM, AlmostAGhost said:

which I find to be dated and not unenjoyable

oops got a little grammatically twisted. i meant not enjoyable, if that wasn't clear. (@bleary got it.)

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I don't seem to connect with Woody Allen films (Allen-controversy aside. Which, fwiw, I still watch movies with Klaus Kinski in them - such as Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Nosferatu, which Amy mentioned in the Apocalypse Now Episode. Though I think with him, for a number of possibly ethically dubious reasons, it's easier to not have that interfere with what I'm seeing on screen).

Of what I've seen, Annie Hall is the only one that's stuck out to me as, "yeah, this works. I'm mostly on its wavelength.

However, when I did my "top 25" of the top 100 list, it was considered, but didn't make it, so for the sake of the poll, I voted no. I think for the sake of rom-coms of roughly that era (stretching this word), but I'd wonder how When Harry Met Sally would feel compared to it.

Small things that crossed my mind on this viewing

1. Which Fellini movie was that guy talking about in line? Comparing release dates, Cassanova came out the year before, but if you factor in time to make it overseas, and the time to make a movie, I wonder if it was referring to Amarcord (which I haven't seen in nearly two decades and struggle to remember anything about other than it was him remembering his childhood and the scene of the four boys masturbating in the car). Both are a little ingrained in the DNA of this film, I think. But maybe that statement belongs in a media class at Columbia.

I also caught that the double feature they used for the establishing shot for LA was House of Exorcism (aka the American hacky edit of Mario Bava's Lisa & the Devil) and Messiah of Evil (which is a small film that I love despite lacking an ending - and does take place in a small, southern California neon-stucco town) - but it just seemed like an odd choice. Especially two horror movies in Christmas. But seeing its title in such a well-known movie really stuck out to me as a "huh, that's weird."

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On 11/24/2019 at 1:10 PM, bleary said:

but it's a bummer when Alvy has the last line and it's something unnecessarily negative.  (A couple quick examples: When the dude on the street says that he and his wife use a large vibrating egg, that's a fantastic laugh line, so it's a little uncalled for when Alvy immediately calls him a psychopath.  The gag with Christopher Walken's monologue leading into him driving them to the airport is great, and doesn't need Alvy's "due back on the planet Earth" retort.)

I guess I was okay with the misanthropy in the humor (though the completely shallow couple as a joke strikes me as more misanthropic), I just found his final line to less funny than the preceding lines, and served mainly to segue into the next joke or scene than as a punch line. 

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On 11/24/2019 at 10:10 AM, bleary said:

I want to say that leaving all of Allen's controversies aside, I really love this film, as Amy and Paul do.  My biggest issue is my own difficulty at leaving Allen's controversies aside.  Whether he's innocent or guilty of what he's been accused of, the fact of the matter is that I can imagine him being guilty, and that sours my view of his work at least a little.  I also understand how people who believe he's not guilty would view his work differently, or even people who take the position that this work occurred before his alleged actions.  I still voted for inclusion, because I do love the film, but unfortunately, I don't see myself returning to it as much as I did before 2014.

Yeah, for me I bumped it down a half star on Letterboxd just because some of the humor now seems a little uncomfortable because of the accusations towards Allen. Of course that's not something that would have been a concern at the time, but it's just hard to avoid it now.

I'd still vote for it to stay on the list, but the whole controversy definitely has had some negative impact on how I receive the work.

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I honestly had a hard time listening to this episode, which I obviously knew I would, and I am thankful for the trigger warning by Paul and Amy with the option to take a pass this week and sit tight for the next episode. I myself chose to listen knowing it would be hard, and it was hard. Personally, I do not want to get into Woody's life because I myself experienced sexual assault as a child and considering how the last conversation I had on the Earwolf forums about men in Hollywood with less than ideal reputations went... I think I'll take a pass.

But on the movie itself, I saw this in high school because I also wanted to begin my career in the study of film history, and it never really stuck with me. I had friends that absolutely died over Woody's movies, and I wanted so bad to be as cool and watch as many of them as I could, but while I liked this film... I did not love it. I think the only one of his movies I did love was Midnight in Paris and I wonder if it's because I just don't enjoy Woody Allen's acting style. I chose not to rewatch it and I don't regret that, but the only thing about the entire movie that even sticks out to me is when Alvy criticizes Annie for smoking weed before sex. I think about that a lot because I've done that and let me tell y'all, it's great. 10/10 would recommend. Other than that I have nothing but "meh" feelings about this movie.

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