Questions: Taken literally, what’s incorrect in the final scene of Annie Hall (shot from inside O’Neal’s Balloon)?
After that it got pretty late, and, we both had to go, but it was great seeing Annie again. I realized what a terrific person she was and how much fun it was just knowing her, and I thought of that old joke. You know, this guy goes to his psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken.” And the doctor says, “Well why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships– you know, they’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd, but, I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.
Answer: It wasn’t late at all. If you notice the light, it’s coming from the east, which means this scene was shot early in the morning.
Not that it makes any difference…unless you are an anal New Yorker.
“Sports to me is like music…It’s completely, aesthetically satisfying. There were times I would sit at a game with the old Knicks and think to myself in the fourth quarter, This is everything the theatre should be an isn’t. There’s an outcome that’s unpredictable. The audience is not ahead of the dramatist. The drama is ahead of the audience, and you don’t know exatly where it’s going. You’re personally involved with the players–they had herioc demensions, some of those players. It’s a pleasurable experience, though not intellectual–much like music. It enters you through a diferent opening, sort of…
You see, life consists of giving yourself these problems that can be dealt with, so you don’t have to face the problems that can’t be dealt with. It’s very meaningful to me, for instance, to see if the Knicks are going to get over some problem or another. These are matters you can get involved with, safely, and pleasurably, and the outcome doesn’t hurt you.”
Woody Allen to David Remnick, 1994
Well said, though I’m sure some fans would argue about not being hurt. Last night’s loss was a tough one, doesn’t matter that the Celtics should have mopped the floor with them. Carmelo Anthony was brilliant but Jared Jeffries will be the memory that doesn’t go away from this one. And that hurts, man.
“How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I don’t know how the can opener works!”
One thing I like about Woody Allen is that, for the most part — and unlike so many of even my favorite movie directors — he tries to create complete, psychologically complex female characters. It doesn’t always work, but I appreciate the effort. Martin Scorsese, to pick just one example, has made some of my favorite movies ever, but no more than a handful of female character with more than two dimensions.
Mia Farrow, Dianne Weist, and Barbara Hershey star in Hannah and Her Sisters as Hannah and… her sisters, Holly and Lee. Hannah is married to Michael Caine’s Elliot, and her ex-husband is hypochodriachal comedy writer Mickey, played by — well, you’ll never guess. But Allen wisely casts himself here as a kind of comedic Greek chorus figure, and not the leading man. The sisters’ various relationships, with each other and with a number of different men, make up the movie’s many plot threads, particularly Elliot’s doomed secret affair with Lee. (Michael Caine is one of the very, very few actors who could pull off this role without leaving you loathing the character, although I still end up having less sympathy for him than Allen’s script seems to). The great ensemble of complex, distinctive, well-drawn characters is the real strength of Hannah and Her Sisters – one of my favorite Woody Allen movies after Annie Hall and Manhattan, and one that he clearly poured a lot of care into.
The movie is packed with cameos, and future stars in small roles – Julie “Marge Simpson” Kavner plays a producer on a comedy show that also employs, for one or two lines each, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lewis Black, and John Turturro. Allen must have had one hell of a casting director. Sam Waterston plays a slimy-suave architect who dates both Holly and her friend April – who’s played by Carrie Fischer. J.T. Walsh and Daniel Stern make appearances, the sisters’ parents are played by the late, great Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O’Sullivan, and Lee’s pretentious older artist lover is the awesome Max von Sydow. A very very young Soon-Yi Previn even shows up at the end as a “Thanksgiving Guest”.
Woody Allen, even in his youth, was always something of a grumpy old man – he never warmed up to rock and roll even a little bit, and after complaining about Bob Dylan in Annie Hall, here he grouches endlessly about having to sit through the “noise” of a punk band. Everyone in this movie loves opera, jazz, classical music, fine art, and Cole Porter; only Diane Weist’s insecure cokehead listens to musical genres that developed since 1950. But if you can overlook those rather anachronistic character touches in a movie that’s otherwise very much of its 1980s New York setting, you find some very believable, recognizable people. No one in this movie is a villain; everyone is just trying to muddle through, with varying degrees of success. And Allen’s script is big enough to find some sympathy for everyone.
Much like Mia Farrow’s character in Purple Rose of Cairo, Woody Allen’s Mickey essentially has his life saved after a half-hearted suicide attempt by movies – in this case, the Marx Brothers, who convince him that even if life is meaningless and God nonexistent, we might as well try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here. I never found it especially convincing that he and a suddenly transformed Dianne Weist end up blissfully together at the end of the film (with her sister’s/his ex-wife’s blessing), but I do buy into the moral a bemused Allen expresses in the final scene – “The heart is a very, very resilient little muscle, it really is.”
In a way, it’s the same message Allen had for the audience at the end of Annie Hall – a message I like so much that when my dad asked me to read something at his wedding last month, that’s what I picked. We need the eggs.
Granted, all of this might be a little easier to fully embrace if Allen’s own private life hadn’t taken such a creepy turn in the 90s, but never mind; as is so often the case, you have to separate the man’s personal life from his creative one if you hope to ever enjoy a movie without conducting a moral audit of its director. Which is something that I think Allen, or at least the desperate movie-loving character he plays here, would entirely agree with.
O’Neals’ restaurant, formerly The Ginger Man–my old man’s watering hole–is closing at the end of June. O’Neals’ has been a presence on west 64th street for close to fifty years. This comes as sad news for the neighbhorhood. It also hits close to home for me as Mike O’Neal is a family friend.
From his newsletter this morning:
Many of you know all the many manifestations we have had over the years, originally the Ginger Man, we got good reviews and we expanded. Soon we broke through the wall into the Liberty Warehouse and opened the Liberty Ice Cream Parlor, We later turned this room into “the Grill Room”, do you remember the beautiful fireplace? Little by little our original home, a renovated garage, became the site of a new building we moved all operations into the warehouse.
In 2001 The Liberty Warehouse was sold and the old owners went belly up. The strict foreclosure that followed terminated our lease with many years to go.l
A buyer turned up and made the building a condo. At this point we considered calling it quits but we held out and negotiated a new lease. We waited 21 months to reopen. Meanwhile the building had been gutted. We rebuild saving many of our treasures and lovingly making a home for them in the new space.
We came back seven years ago, bigger and better than ever. I think the new place is beautiful and we also build a modern new kitchen which make the food even better.
But along with all the building came “new debt”. At first we did well but when Lincoln Center cut back on their programs and the “world wide recession” up we started to loose ground. It has come to that point where we have to admit “We bit off more than we can chew”. So rather than further increasing our debt we have made the painful and heart wrenching decision to close.
Mike and his brother Patrick also used to own O’Neals’ Ballon which was directly across from Lincoln Center. The final scene in Annie Hall was shot there: