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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Annie Hall [Blu-ray]

 

(Woody Allen, 1977)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Rollins-Joffe Productions

Video: MGM / Fox

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:33:23.639

Disc Size: 32,275,775,588 bytes

Feature Size: 31,272,278,016 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.86 Mbps

Chapters: 49

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 24th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2077 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2077 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB)
DTS Audio French 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
DTS Audio German 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
DTS Audio Italian 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
* DTS Audio Japanese 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
DTS Audio Spanish 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Theatrical trailer (2:09 in 1.33:1 in 1080P)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Considered to be "Woody Allen's breakthrough movie" (Time), Annie Hall won four ACADEMY AWARDS® ® including Best Picture and established Allen as the premier auteur filmmaker. Thought by many critics to be Allen's magnum opus, Annie Hall confirmed that Allen had "completed the journey from comic to humorist, from comedy writer to wit [and] from inventive moviemaker to creative artist" (Saturday Review).

Alvy Singer (Allen) is one of Manhattan's most brilliant comedians, but when it comes to romance, his delivery needs a little work. Introduced by his best friend, Rob (Tony Roberts), Alvy falls in love with the ditzy but delightful nightclub singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). When Alvy's own insecurities sabotage the affair, Annie is forced to leave Alvy for a new life – and lover (Paul Simon) – in Los Angeles. Knowing he may have lost Annie forever, Alvy's willing to go to any lengths – even driving L.A.'s freeways – to recapture the only thing that ever mattered...true love.

 

 

The Film:

In this fashion, Woody Allen introduces us to the particular concerns of his fine new film, Annie Hall, a comedy about urban love and incompatibility that finally establishes Woody as one of our most audacious filmmakers, as well as the only American filmmaker who is able to work seriously in the comic mode without being the least bit ponderous.

Because Mr. Allen has his roots as a writer of one-liners and was bred in television and nightclubs, standing up, it's taken us quite a while to recognize just how prodigiously talented he is, and how different he has always been from those colleagues who also make their livings as he once did, racing from Las Vegas to the Coast to Tahoe to San Juan, then back to Las Vegas. Among other things, he's the first major American filmmaker ever to come out of a saloon.

Excerpt from Vincent Canby at the NY Times located HERE

So opens the multiple Oscar winning Annie Hall, most enduringly popular of all Woody Allen's work, in which the famously neurotic New York film-maker plays a neurotic New York comedian reflecting on his relationship with the girl of his dreams. Narratively and visually innovative, Annie Hall is very different from your average love story, and its impact on contemporary cinema was considerable. In particular, Allen's direct-to-camera monologues and post-modern awareness of his audience represent a dramatic break with familiar form. They give the viewer more the sense of being a participant than a mere observer. The viewer becomes Allen's - of Alvy's - confidante, not unlike the shrink whom he and Annie both visit during the course of their wayward romance.

Excerpt from Jennie Kermode at Eye for Film located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Not all films benefit dramatically on Blu-ray in their video representation. No doubt this advances beyond SD-DVD with bright colors, supportive grain and some sneaking depth. There is some minor noise on the spotlessly clean image. Contrast is not a defining feature of the visuals but this probably looked quite similar theatrically - almost 35 years ago. The Allen humor is still marvelous and the image doesn't improve upon that - nor needs to. Like the recent onslaught of MGM/Fox Blu-rays this is dual-layered with a high bitrate - and I see no digital manipulation. My suspicions are that this is an authentic representation of the film. There is some desirable grain and even if the image leans to the more modest end of the HD scale - it is not a fault of the transfer. The previously released DVD was very flat, video-like and unappealing. This Blu-ray provided me with the best presentation of Annie Hall I am likely to ever see on my Home Theater.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master stereo track at 2077 kbps supports the dialogue and music injections of Tommy Dorsey's "Sleepy Lagoon" , Mozart's Symphony No.41 in C Major, plus Diane Keaton's crooning solos. There are foreign language DUBs and a handful of subtitle options ('hidden thoughts' in that one scene are displayed in a yellow font - see sample). My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

NOTE: Robert tells us in email: "Just a note to say that the BD of _Annie Hall_ (1977) still gets something wrong. In the rooftop scene where the Allen and Keaton characters are talking, we see, as subtitles, what they are really thinking; the original film and, if I recall, the original VHS, presented these hilarious subs in a reasonable size, using upper and lower case letters normally, a pleasant font, and white. The old non-anamorphic DVD capitalized all the letters, made them too big, inserted the word [Thinking] above some of the lines (at least that word isn't all in caps), though they're still white. The BD uses a better font, normal upper and lower case letters, but they're now a very obtrusive yellow (shown in the Beaver review, screen cap 5).

I always thought these subs, being integral to the humor of the scene, were part of the negative. It's perplexing that they seem to have been added later and can be manipulated by people who don't know how they were supposed to appear. It's disappointing, but I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised because the same is true with the faux-Italian segment of Allen's _Everything You Always Wanted to know About Sex_ (1971). In fact, while the VHS correctly follows the film, the MGM DVD even makes a mistake, ruining the Allenesque humor of one line: the original says "Now she wants it!"--a phrase structure that's deliberately very Jewish, emphasizing the first word, while the DVD simply says "She wants it now!" misunderstanding and destroying the humor.
" (Thanks Robert!)

 

Extras :

Nothing except a trailer in HD (but 1.33:1). Most Woody Allen films-to-digital are devoid of supplements - so, unfortunately, this is no exception.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Classic Woody Allen - often considered his best work - and in the comedic-sense it may be true. While the Blu-ray doesn't jump off the screen - it is still the very best representation of Annie Hall available. If you are a fan of the director - or the film - the price makes this an easy choice. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 19th, 2011


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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