Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Days of Favorites: Annie Hall

The story of Love &Squalor begins many years before the fateful meeting of Wilde.Dash and M, long before the almost nightly movie marathons on uncomfortable and rank smelling dorm furniture and Sound of Music sing-a-longs. From the mid 80’s on, unaware of each others’ presence, M and Wilde.Dash were bonding with family, not over board games or a large family meal (ok, there was a lot of that too), but over the likes of Woody Allen and Walter Pidgeon. The holidays in said families were filled with the usual Christmas fair, but also with strange family film favorites and traditions. So hang your stockings with care and when your sister starts complaining about your billionth viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life and how boooooring it is, spend your 12 Days of Christmas with the movies that have followed Love & Squalor from infancy to bloggerhood.

In my family, Annie Hall isn't actually a tradition.  It's one of my absolute favorites, yes, but I seem to be the only one equipped to appreciate it.  Thus, the tradition here is something of an odd one.  It goes like this: I try to convince the family to re-watch Annie Hall, they either totally ignore me or put up with part of it before quietly disappearing from the couch.  I don't know what it is, but my parents both have this thing about early Woody Allen. They can't handle his neurosis, which is ironic, because they wound up with me and should really be immune to it by now.  The whole lot of us, in fact, frequently sound like a paranoid batch of hypochondriacal (is that a word?) narcissists, but apparently I'm the only one who embraces it.  I mean, the sibling, to my knowledge, has never made it through the movie in its entirety.  She falls asleep.  I know, right?  What's the deal with that?  Not a clue.  Admittedly, the very first time I saw Annie Hall, I was not in love with it.  It was middle school, I think, and I just wasn't hooked.  There was, however, something that stuck with me, that convinced me to re-watch and re-evaluate it just a couple years later.  By then, I found I'd grown into the movie, that there was a part of me that could really relate to these characters.  Each time I revisit it, I find that I continue to grow further into the movie.  Every viewing is accompanied by another revelation, or new understanding.  On some level I know Alvy and Annie, on some level I am Alvy and Annie, which makes my ongoing quest to get my family to approve this movie (not just concede to its cleverness, which has already happened) all the more vital.  Is this the year?  I don't know. But I'm going to try again...

In the beginning, there was Annie Hall. I was a sheltered child (this was before the family David Lynch viewings around 15), allowed to listen to only classical music and the occasional Simon and Garfunkel or Police album, most movies immediately paused when I entered the room. Except for Annie Hall. At five, I would crawl into my parents' bed and listen to them laughing. At ten, I was in love with a variety of lines that I’d parrot back to people constantly, in reference to catching a lobster that fled behind a refrigerator, “Maybe if I put a little dish of butter sauce here with a nutcracker it will run out the other side,” or “there’s a spider the size of a Buick in your bathtub.” By 15, I started to get the rest of the adult and more intellectual references, "I never had a latency period," and found myself seeking out clothing that Diane Keaton, that Annie would have worn. And now at 26, when I catch it on PBS or HBO, I find myself abandoning cleaning projects, blog projects, and everything else to sit down and watch it again, and again, and again. My family owns three copies of it all together, and this Christmas, when everyone’s home from work and school, my family will watch two movies: A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim, and...Annie Hall

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