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Hannah And Her Sisters (Blu-ray Review)

Hannah-And-Her-SistersFollowing Annie Hall, auteur Woody Allen began a hot streak through the 80s and somewhat carrying into the 90s.  Most of his best and most brilliant work comes from this period.  In 1986 he was awarded his 2nd Oscar for original screenplay for Hannah And Her Sisters.  The film also scored the first ever sweep of the supporting category, nabbing Michael Caine and Diane Wiest statues.  In its release, Hannah And Her Sisters also became Woody Allen’s highest grossing picture, outdoing the likes of Annie Hall and Manhattan.  The film was critically praised and has had a legacy of being one of Allen’s best and what’s considered an all time great film in general.

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Film

Hannah And Her Sisters follows a short period in the life of Hannah and her family.  Raised by celebrity parents, Hannah and her two sisters go through the struggles of relationships and getting back on their feet after drug problems.  Hannah is at the center of everyone, yet nobody seems to want to give her all the focus.  She juggles between her sisters, her husband who is having illicit feelings toward her sister and keeping a relationship with her children’s father.  We get to peep in on a short period of about a year and see this gloomy time in hers and her family’s life.

There’s a weird, fun aspect of going back to this movie (not seen it since VHS) that probably wasn’t a bother or noticeable back when it was released.  There are a lot of names that appear in this movie.  It seems like even the smallest one-liner even went on to be somebody.  Everyone from John Turturo to Julia Louis-Dreyfus to Richard Jenkins shows up in this movie.  Heck, the future voice of Marge Simpson, Julie Kavner has a supporting role bigger than most of the ones I named.  It is quite fun watching them pop up throughout.

This film definitely feels very related to Annie Hall of all things.  It’s the marriage version at times.  There’s many call backs to Annie Hall throughout, and Allen’s character Mickey feels very much like another Alvie Singer.  Yes, I’m aware Allen is always this type, but here, in the dialogue and portrayal it feels like an Alive from an alternate universe.  This also feels like an advancement and next level for the themes of Annie Hall as well.  It’s a bit darker, but when you’re dealing with marriage infidelity, drug rehabilitation and the possibility of a brain tumor that’ll happen.

What we get in Hannah, is a study of people all consciously knowing what is right, but unable to stop themselves from taking the wrong path.  The people come from or are married into a family full of high expectations and pressure because of the family’s parents’ stature in life.  The only person not making these choices is Hannah, but she’s hasn’t the time to get to do any for she is the connective tissue or glue keeping everything together even if its falling apart while she’s away.  There’s kind of a sad moment toward the beginning where Hannah is congratulated on getting a big part in the theater only to say it’s a one time thing because she needs to stay at home.  She’s entirely selfless and really devotes herself to working so hard at keeping to family it appears to steal her away from getting a few moments to enjoy herself.

The film still holds up quite well.  This one may be more for the adults or patient audiences.  There’s humor aplenty going on, but the dark tonal subject matter of the film restrains the laughs from being too big.  Mickey’s subplot of the film is good enough to balance out the film and keep it from becoming too dark, even if he is dealing with a cancer scare.  Character’s inner monologues provide for some solid art and a good mix of drama and comedy.  The film offers some good adult fun and drama that will still hold up to audiences of today.

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Video

The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding on Hannah And Her Sisters gives a true to release appearance.  Presented in 1.85:1, the film looks up to snuff with how I imagine it appeared in its theatrical release.  There is a solid layer of grain throughout the film.  Detail averages at good but not great for the runtime of the feature.  The image is a soft one, likely the nature of the film’s source.  Although a little bit of noise pops in at times, the image is a tad gritty realistic one.  It really captures 70s/80s grimy New York City quite well.

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Audio

The DTS-HD MA 1.0 lossless audio is a nice complimentary track to the film’s original presentation.  Audio purists will be pleased.  The vocals which the film relies heavily on are nice and clean for the most part.  A few times there is a little muffling, but it appears to be source related, so nothing much to fix there.  The film reaches very good mix in all volume levels between dialogue, foley and the score.

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Extras

Like all Woody Allen titles, Hannah And Her Sisters contains only the Theatrical Trailer.

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Summary

Hannah And Her Sisters is one of Woody Allen’s best films.  It was brought out when he was almost an unstoppable force.  The film holds up quite nicely and provides some comedy among some darker subject matter.  If you’re a fan of Woody Allen, you have to have this disc.  Unfortunately, Woody never provides us with any goodies on them, so its bare bones.  The film is the most important feature and it delivers a solid enough recreational of the theatrical experience.  Fans of this film and Woody Allen collectors will definitely need to pick this one up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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