Zelig, 76 mins (PG)
Hannah And Her Sisters, 103 mins (15)
Sunday 01 January 2012
What a treat this is - a double bill of two of Woody Allen’s finest films, both made in his mid-1980s prime.
Hannah And Her Sisters, from 1986, slots between Manhattan and Husbands And Wives in the file marked “archetypal Allen”: it’s a romantic comedy-drama about neurotic New York liberals, with white-on-black title cards, Cole Porter tunes, and Woody himself as a hypochondriac Marx Brothers fan. The screenplay won a Bafta and an Oscar.
1983’s Zelig is more experimental, a faux documentary about a Twenties celebrity (also Allen) who transmutes into a facsimile of whoever he’s talking to. Technically, it’s a wonder, packed with uncanny recreations of 1920s songs, memorabilia and newsreels: a decade before Forrest Gump, Allen is inserted into black-and-white footage of the era’s big names. It’s also a sweetly gentle love story, a cracking compendium of one-liners, and – like The Artist, Hugo, and Allen’s own Midnight In Paris – a valentine to the jazz age. In Midnight In Paris, Owen Wilson travels back in time and visits a club called Chez Bricktop. In Zelig, one of the interviewees is Ada “Bricktop” Smith, who ran that very Parisian nightspot in the 1920s.
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