12Avoiding Negativity

‘There's an old joke: two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort and one of them says, “The food in this place is really terrible.” The other one says “Yes, I know. And such small portions.” Well that's essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.’

The Oscar-winning movie Annie Hall (1977), which includes the above joke in its opening monologue, exemplifies Woody Allen's ability to turn negativity and neurosis into an art form. As well as directing the movie, Allen plays the central character – the pessimistic comedian Alvy Singer – with the film's narrative centred on explaining his failed relationship with the eponymous ...

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