Under the Radar

Woody Allen's Big Year


Woody Allen's had a big year. Midnight in Paris is his most successful movie ever at the box office and earned him Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The PBS American Masters series just aired a massive 3 1/2 hour documentary overview of his entire career.

Now two movies that might be his best have just been released on Blu-ray: 1977's Best Picture Annie Hall and 1979's Manhattan.

Both movies are about how hard it is for adults to have functioning relationships in New York City. Diane Keaton's Annie Hall performance won her a Best Actress Oscar in Allen's most beloved film.  Manhattan is quite a bit darker, both because of the intentionally murky black and white photography and also because the plot foreshadows Allen's own future relationship with an inappropriately young woman.

Manhattan is Allen's greatest visual achievement as a director and the digital transfer here is spectacular. Annie Hall may not have the same cinematic wow factor but the disk looks great. Both movies look enormously better than the "high def" version of Manhattan that's playing right now on HBO. There aren't any special features here besides the theatrical trailers because Allen is well-known for his hatred of home video extras.

If you like Woody Allen (or if you're ever going to like him), these movies make a great case for his work and they're both seeing in Blu-ray if you've got some Amazon credit or if they turn up in your local Redbox.


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