Monday, February 28, 2011

Annie Hedonia

As luck or design would have it, while the Oscars were airing an awards show that beat them all for pure schmaltz and brought self-glorification to a new low, TCM was showing Annie Hall, giving movie lovers an opportunity to view a masterpiece of the form instead.

The original title of Woody Allen's 1977 film was Anhedonia, meaning the inability to experience pleasure. Allen's character Alvy Singer suffers from the condition until he meets Annie (Diane Keaton), who for all her fumbling and self-consciousness, is a beautiful vessel of pleasure.

Alvy tells Annie that her whole body is an erogenous zone, and soon it is revealed that she insists on smoking pot before they make love. When Alvy objects, comparing it to a comic getting a laugh too easily, Annie tells him if he'd only smoke with her, he wouldn't have to see a therapist.

The following scene has Alvy picking out books on death for Annie at a bookstore, telling her he divides the world into the miserable and the horrible. Obviously, he refused to smoke. His character says if he smokes or drinks, "I get unbearably wonderful."

It's Allen's most direct statement on the drug experience until Alice (1990), a retelling of Alice in Wonderland that's a lot more interesting than the one starring Johnny Depp.

BTW, Annie Hall won four Oscars, including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Diane Keaton); Best Director (Woody Allen); Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman); and Best Picture (producer Charles H. Joffe).

Keaton also smokes pot on film (in a bathtub) in 1981's Shoot the Moon. In 2005, she appeared as the matriarch of The Family Stone, in which Craig T. Nelson and his son Luke Wilson smoke together, and Wilson helps the uptight Sarah Jessica Parker to loosen up with a bit of the holy herb.

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