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  • Woody Allen once said that, whereas Scorsese had generated a host of imitators, he had generated none. This may be true; films like Manhattan certainly come along far too infrequently.

    That this is such a gorgeous film may strike those following the formulaic, Hollywood approach to cinema as strange and heretical. The story is unexciting (restless male in love triangle), most of the characters are unsympathetic, at least on the surface (particularly Isaac), Allen leaves lose ends lying around all over the place, and there's certainly no action (unless you count the car-chase-without-a-chase-scene involving Diane Keaton, Woody Allen and a VW Beetle).

    So why should any self-respecting member of the MTV generation spend time on this film? Well, here are a few reasons.

    The script is wit of the highest order. This is not gag-a-minute humour like Friends, but an altogether more acute art form stemming from character, some wonderful dialogue and a fair amount of darkness (I love the bit about Isaac trying to run over his ex-wife's lover). Allen is also prepared to turn his biting satire to personal issues, such as being Jewish. Just don't expect someone to look shrug their shoulders, slap their forehead and with mid-rising intonation say d'uh! It's not that kind of comedy.

    Then there is the gorgeous cinematography. Woody loves Manhattan and you can certainly tell. If there is one criticism of the film, it is that it leaves a rather picture postcard impression of the city, but I suppose if it's love, then it's love. Much of the film appears to have been shot at either sunrise or sunset to soften the light, and there are spectacular views of the towers, bridges and waterways of America's finest metropolis.

    Then, I suppose, there is the fact that Manhattan is probably the archetypal Woody Allen film. Other films may be better, like Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters but, in Manhattan, all the elements of Allen's style are in perfect balance. There's the jazz, the neurotic, unsympathetic lead, the choice between stable and highly-strung women, the self-mocking humour (hilariously done in the opening voice-over), the railing against intellectual snobbery, the deep unease with popular culture.

    And there are great performances. Allen is at his most difficult – and in some ways his least likable. As Isaac, he's trying to do the right thing, but is rarely selfless enough to follow through with it. Diane Keaton is great as Mary, the lynchpin between the two love triangles – vain, pretentious and yet you can see why Isaac falls for her. Well, all the actors are great, and very believable, but special mention must go to Meryl Streep, who manages to steal the show with her tiny cameo as Isaac's ex-wife, writing a book about their break-up and living with their son and her lover. She is magnificent.

    Of course, the film will also do nothing to dispel the popular rumour that New Yorkers are neurotic, self-obsessed and self-indulgent – at least that narrow social circle Allen so often writes about. If you don't mind that, though (and I'm English, so what do I care) you're in for a treat. As with the city itself, the memories of this film will stay with you forever.
  • tvspace25 January 2003
    Manhattan is an exhilarating American romance set against the backdrop of New York of the late 70's: my favorite New York, the New York of painters, poets, punks, and Pauline Kael. Three great, very American talents -- Woody Allen, Gordon Willis, and George Gershwin -- intertwine their respective gifts to create a comedy that manages to satisfy both the brain and the heart, and even, perhaps, the lower regions.

    Allen is so brainy and such a nebbish that he can get away with gestures that would be painfully sentimental in the hands of any other director: when he begins the movie with fireworks cut to Gershwin, it isn't to soften you up for a soap opera, but to remind you that however much his neuroses may seem to drive the scenes, its the love of New York that drives the movie.

    The entire cast is note perfect: Meryl Streep as his caustic bisexual ex-wife, Diane Keaton as a nervous journalist from Philadelphia, and especially Mariel Hemingway, whose performance as Allen's 17-year old girlfriend is charming, heartbreaking, and wise.

    Allen's comedy here is at its absolute finest. The fact that it is interwoven with a genuinely moving love story told with a subtlety and indirection that is unheard of in today's mainstream cinema only makes the laughs that much richer.

    Gordon Willis' cinematography is good enough for the Museum of Modern Art. Scene after scene leaves a grin on your face as his moving (in both senses) black and white photography floats across the screen.

    And finally underlying everything is the music of George Gershwin, whose exubertant melodies propel the movie forward at every turn.

    This is Woody Allen's best movie, a great movie, and an American movie in the best sense. As an homage to the city of New York it will surely remain unsurpassed.
  • After the phenomenal success of 'Annie Hall,' the hilarious Oscar-winning comedy detailing the romantic exploits of neurotic Jewish comedian Alvey Singer, Woody Allen had become of America's most respected filmmakers. In 1979, he released what is generally accepted as his second great masterpiece, 'Manhattan,' a poignant tribute to the city that Allen loves so dearly. Written by Allen and his 'Annie Hall'-collaborator Marshall Brickman, 'Manhattan' stars Allen as Isaac Davis, a twice-divorced, 42-year-old comedy writer who is intimately involved with a 17-year-old high school student, Tracy (an Oscar-nominated Mariel Hemingway). Meanwhile, Isaac begins to fall for Mary (Diane Keaton), who is the secret mistress of his best friend (Michael Murphy). Adding to all of Isaac's troubles, his former second wife, Jill (Meryl Streep), who had originally left him for another woman, has plans to write a tell-all book on their failed marriage.

    If this all seems very confusing to you, then you're not alone. Just as in 'Annie Hall,' Allen plays the hopeless romantic who is struggling desperately to understand the maddening complexity of human relationships. Though Tracy is only seventeen years old, she is arguably the most honest and mature of the women in Isaac's life; nonetheless, he doesn't treat her seriously. In his mind, anything that she says is quite obviously influenced by the naivety and downright ignorance of the young. Their relationship was never meant to be anything more than a brief "fling," and so he feels no guilt for seeing another woman behind his back, an act that makes him livid when it ultimately happens to him.

    'Manhattan' was shot in beautiful crisp black-and-white by Gordon Willis, who has also worked on, among countless other films, 'Annie Hall' and the three installments of 'The Godfather.' The cinematography offers New York City a romantic 1940s feel, reminiscent of how Allen claims to remember the city as a child: "Maybe it's a reminiscence from old photographs, films, books and all that. But that's how I remember New York. I always heard Gershwin music with it, too. In 'Manhattan' I really think that we — that's me and cinematographer Gordon Willis — succeeded in showing the city. When you see it there on that big screen it's really decadent."

    Mysteriously, this film remains the least-liked by the director himself, though, at the same time, it was also his most commercially successful. As you've no doubt already noticed from this review, 'Manhattan' is often likened to 1977's 'Annie Hall,' perhaps due to the repeated casting of Allen and Keaton (a not uncommon occurrence) or its similar attempt to uncover the elusive secrets behind love and relationships. In terms of film-making style, however, the films are quite dissimilar. Unlike the highly-energetic 'Annie Hall' – which cut back and forward in time, visited old memories, broke the fourth wall and made conversations with passing extras – 'Manhattan' boasts a more classical approach – quiet, softly-spoken and accompanied by a wistfully slow jazzy soundtrack, also relying heavily on the works of George Gershwin.
  • I watched Manhattan recently because i had never seen Woody Allen's films and heard this was one of his best.

    I can see why people love this film, it certainly is quite original and a convincing snapshot of a group of friends in New York, but I found Woody's character just too excruciating self-possessed and irritating to enjoy the film overall.

    I guess you either love him or hate him, but he reminded me of George Costanza on Seinfeld - i just wanted to shake him and say 'get over yourself!'.

    As for the humor, there were a lot of attempted wit there but nothing that made me laugh out loud. I won't be a hurry to see any of his other films.
  • I'm nineteen years old and I've watched this film through the eyes of a girl of the 2015. I can honestly say that I've been very impressed by the detached and ingenious sarcasm with which Allen depicts a generation, his generation.

    In Manhattan I've seen first of all the portrait of a generation, the generation of those who lived their forties in Manhattan, the symbol of everything that could be achieved in the 80s. And the portrait depicted is not softened at all, since every single adult in this movie is a neurotic mess. There are adults afraid of cancer, adults that plan to write books they will never end, adults that put their life in the hands of LSD-addicted analysts, adults that talk about orgasms, adults devastated by dull, mediocre men imagined as "gods", adults that waver between homo, bi and heterosexuality, adults that pretend to be intellectuals and try to judge Mozart, Bergman and Scott Fitzgerald, adults whose relationships are stable just as the weather is, adults that act like they believe in the highest values but that in the end need a seventeen-year-old girl to find their balance. And those are the same adults that despise the generation brought up by the TV and the pill.

    This show of absurdities is well hosted by Isaac Davis, Woody Allen himself, that unprejudiced as always, hides all these paradoxical situations behind a good amount of irony. If I had to make a comparison with a more recent movie, I would say that what Allen did with his generation has been done by Tony Servillo with the current fifty-year-old Roman VIPs, in his latest work La Grande Bellezza.

    Irony, good acting and a good soundtrack always make a movie worth watching. And this movie can boast the best of everything.
  • I used to hold this film as somewhat of a sacred cow when I first saw it in 1979. I was a proscribed Woody fan and

    although I still like a few of his movies, this is no longer one of them, on recent review.

    I recently purchased copies of Manhattan and Annie Hall.

    I watched the latter first and it charmed my socks off again. One classic scene after another signals the height of Allen's art in this hilarious masterwork. Manhattan is a different story.

    Perhaps my recent viewing of Wild Man Blues has hipped

    me to what an whining, pampered egomaniac Mr. Allen is.

    Perhaps it's the irony of his Chaplin-like dalliances with young women that have set me against him. But I now watch Manhattan

    and see a pathetic, overblown Allen literally feeding lines to his

    fellow actors to give him some smarmy comeback that never fails to show how intellectually superior he is. Different from Annie Hall, Allen is no longer the underdog but an ugly, obnoxious


    His characters in Manhattan, are cardboard. They are not real and

    the situations are not real. I have no feeling for anyone in this

    movie, except Woody, who I feel contempt for, given his massive

    and unfunny self-indulgence. It's pathetic to see Allen set up

    Hemingway with lines that a teenager would never say in a million

    years, just to trump up his flaccid ego. Everyone in this movie actually feeds him lines to trump up his ego.

    Like Stardust Memories, this one shows Woody at his self- indulgent worst. This movie looks wonderful and sounds wonderful with the Gershwin score, but on further review, this

    one's hollow and ultimately a maddening tribute to an egomaniac.
  • evanston_dad4 February 2008
    Woody Allen has been churning out mediocre films for so long now that it's easy to forget how good some of his older films were. "Manhattan" is the product of Allen's "mature" 1970s phase, the phase that also produced "Annie Hall" and "Interiors," and it's a wonderful film. It's not the plot that makes it singular -- it's typical upper-crust New York Allen, full of neurotic people in therapy cheating on one another and making mistake after mistake in their pursuit of what they think will make them happy. No, what makes "Manhattan" so effective is its style. Filmed in black and white (because, as Allen's character says in an opening voice over, New York is a city that has always and will always exist in black and white), the film is a love letter to NYC, and it suggests that the neuroses that fill its denizens are as much a part of the city's character as its architecture, culture and diversity. I would instantly be annoyed by the people that populate Allen's films if I met them in any other context. As it is, I can't imagine any Allen film (at least not one set in New York) without them.

    Grade: A
  • I won't rework the thorough comments which preceded mine here, because all the accolades I would give this film are stated quite eloquently. It is his best film; it does contain brilliant insights into human nature; it is visually breathtaking. I just want to mention a few aspects from my point of view.

    It has been on my list of the five best movies ever made ever since I saw it in 1979, chiefly for its realistic dialogue and probing commentary on the desperate nature of human beings in search of love, but I had never seen New York with my own eyes, so I could only try to accept but not fully understand Woody's love for Manhattan, which is firmly stated in the introductory narration.

    After my recent 4 day trip there, I have a new perspective - the city itself is so charmingly and compactly laid out, so full of history and culture and everything famous, that you can't go to New York without falling in love with it. After only 3 days I felt I wanted to live there. It is the city of not only Woody Allen but Bob Dylan, Tennessee Williams, Edgar Allan Poe, George Washington, Paul Newman, Jacqueline Onassis, and hundreds of other illustrious and creative people of the past and present. The tour guides can't possibly squeeze in the whole story of every district and every building; the air just vibrates with this knowledge that you are in the greatest city in the world.

    The beauty of Manhattan that Woody conveys so perfectly in every camera shot and through the music of Gershwin has new meaning for me because I was there. It's not so much a physical beauty but a feeling that all is right with the city, that this is what a city is supposed to be. It puts other cities to shame.

    All I can say is he fully succeeded in conveying what New York City is like. Not to mention that I now understand the obsession with delis; they have the best food in the world.

    I would also like to add my new perspective on the story itself - a very 70's plot of several people switching romantic partners back and forth at the drop of a hat. Diane Keaton's Mary remains the most perfect of the characterizations as the neurotic free spirit who despite her total self-absorption inspires our sympathy and affection. The 17 year old played by Mariel Hemingway is more irritating with the passage of 20 years, not because Woody's real-life obsession with young girls came to light, but because Mariel is a truly vapid non-actress with no ability to convey any depth or feeling. The constant commentary about her stunning beauty falls flat because she merely has a strikingly angular face, no personality and really possesses nothing except the bloom of youth and shiny hair. Mary rightly tells Isaac that his first wife becoming a lesbian "explains the little girl."

    The denouement seems more unsatisfactory now than in previous viewings, and I want to shake the characters awake. But it was the seventies, and this is how people acted. It captures the times perfectly. I can't discuss who ends up with whom without spoiling the end for those who haven't seen it, but the problem for me is that the characters seem to live for the moment and if they can't have the one they want, they simply change partners without much strain.

    This attitude does not play quite so charmingly at the end of the 90's when fidelity is valued more highly than it was in the 70's.

    Nevertheless the beauty of the city stands alone no matter what the characters' desperate machinations.

    And as a hilarious commentary on the human instinct to find someone to love no matter what the consequences, there is nothing finer. Though I might not approve of Isaac's final choice, his almost religious experience which brings him to that conclusion is a stunning climax to the film. Whether he changes his mind about who is the right one for him, he has learned something crucial about what really is important to him in life.

    The true stars of the movie are Manhattan, never more beautiful, and Diane Keaton, never more brilliant.
  • No-one can question Woody Allen's status as one of America's premier film directors, and anyone well-versed with his works should not hesitate before nominating 'Manhattan' as his finest film. This movie is a masterpiece; visually and intellectually, it shows Woody Allen at the absolute peak of his art. Shot in a stylistic black and white widescreen format, the cinematography of 'Manhattan' is breathtaking, and Allen's dialogue and command of situation are even better than usual, if that is possible. The heartfelt angst and bittersweet hopelessness of the characters are uncamouflaged even by the sleek cinematographic style of the movie. This movie is Woody Allen's valentine to the city he has such a symbiotic relationship with, and nowhere have I seen New York filmed as artistically as here. Mariel Hemmingway and Diane Keaton give inspired performances around Woody's perfectly played character resulting in what can only be considered a modern masterpiece.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Isaac, Mary and Yale... all 3 of them go back and forth between romantic partners, unable to decide on anything. They have the maturity of teenagers... Do 40 year olds like this exist? Yes, but it's just an unpleasant experience to watch them on screen. Is that the point? Maybe, but it doesn't make for a good movie.

    Just when I think Isaac can't stoop lower, the movie ends with him trying to stop Tracey from going to London and actually getting a life of her own... let's be honest here... this guy is willing to destroy a 17 year old's life to deal with his loneliness.

    The movie is self-aware about these issues... but so what? What makes it worth my time to watch immature people acting idiotically for 90 minutes... To let me know that some folks don't grow up?

    If I wanted to watch 30-40 year olds behaving like teenagers and switching partners willy nilly, I can watch any American soap opera. Basically that's what this movie amounts to for me. It's dressed up in clever dialogue, but the substance is the same.
  • rbverhoef12 April 2003
    'Manhattan' looks beautiful in black and white. It is definitely Woody Allen's best. Two years after 'Annie Hall' we have Woody Allen and Diane Keaton together again. Allen plays Isaac who is dating the 17-year old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway). He has a friend, the married Yale (Michael Murphy), who is having an affair with Mary (Diane Keaton). Isaac falls in love with Mary and stops seeing Tracy to start things with Mary. In a sub-plot we have the ex-wife of Isaac publishing a book about their sex-life. Now she is living with a woman. The ex-wife Jill is played by Meryl Streep. Her appearances are short and not very often but she is more than great in her scenes.

    'Manhattan' is even better than the great 'Annie Hall'. The black and white cinematograpy, done with a good reason, gives a little extra to the movie. Like I said Streep is terrific and so are Allen, Keaton and especially Hemingway (she was nominated for an Oscar). The monologues Allen had in 'Annie Hall' are still present, smart, interesting and funny. A great story, very intelligent, of course written (and directed) by Woody Allen himself.
  • TonyG-717 February 2003
    On the basis of one viewing about 20 years ago, I always considered this my favorite Woody Allen film. Upon further review, I am not so impressed. The cinematography is wonderful (I'm a sucker for New York, too), the acting is ok (Mariel Hemingway better than ok), and there are some good one liners, but, overall I found it boring and self-indulgent, especially in the directing. This film has no real reason for's ultimately inconsequential. That makes me sad and now I have to watch my other favorites to see if they hold up. I still have hopes for Hannah, Misdemeanors, Purple Rose, & Love & Death. This one isn't in the pantheon anymore.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Woody puts on film how he learned about how callous relationships can be. He did it the hard way.

    He sees in his young companion that she is a beautiful 17 year old, when he is 42. It's the vanity of kidding yourself that you can still be physically appealing to such a fresh beauty; plus he got to parade her in front of his friends, as a token of imagined success. If a gorgeous young girl of that age really showed interest in an older man, he's going to think long and hard about not passing up the opportunity, because you don't get those lost years back. It also panders to his lustier instincts, as well.

    She probably would be lifeless, unenthusiastic, bored and boring to a middle-aged man who was not undergoing a life-crisis, but her youth was what fooled Ike into sometimes temporarily thinking he had it good in his life. She gave him a sense of relevance about himself as he fancied he could somehow pull off being a mentor and a lover all rolled into one. I think the point was that he deliberately chose a passive youngster that he could impose his tastes onto, because at the end when she starts to assert her independence, he isn't happy about it. The contradiction within those circumstances is that he can only wholly fall for someone who challenges him; that person in this case is the older Diane Keaton character.

    Maybe I'm wrong... but I hated Woody's character from almost immediately into this, and the last scenes made it all worthwhile to me and justified my caring about what happens to him, because it's such a turnaround.

    All through the movie he is using her and telling her that their relationship will only ever be a rest-stop on the path of her life, so when she finally assimilates that attitude, the hapless man can only tell her that his previous philosophising was hollow. He pretends to base his decisions on what's best for both of them, but really his choices are dictated only to afford himself an easier escape route, in the future. I'm a guy, I've had this done to me by a woman in the past, and to see naivete parlayed as a tactic again, by either sex, was painful. Thus I was gratified to see that the tables are swiftly turned at the resolution, and he is the member of the pair that is now suddenly finding themselves craving reassurance.

    It's a note of admittance to end on that will maybe help change his attitude to relationships in the future, and it inspires a kind of hope in the watching audience by suggesting that perhaps we can all learn from our mistakes, no matter how harsh they have to get. If I'm right, it was very brave of Woody to have his character be left so vulnerable in the end by his own narcissism. Granted it's not your typical overblown finish, but it was at least more illuminating to me. Even if I am the only one...
  • rimsey-216 December 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    A movie in which a 42year old Woody Allen dates a 17 year old (who actually sounds about 12) that tacky or what? Even without knowing about Woody Allen's subsequent real life involvement with his step daughter it just seems inappropriate (and that's putting it mildly). If it had been a movie about a gay older man having a relationship with a teenage boy i'm sure that it would have caused outrage and i can't see why it should be much different just because its a heterosexual relationship. And then to realize at the end of his movie that the 17 year old is really the love of his life..i mean..ewwwwwwwwwwwh...pass me the sick bag. Diane Keaton we're meant to believe is some sort of really intellectual but just seems a moronic insult to women with her vacuous prognostications. I'll give it a few stars for the cinematography and music score and another star for a few throwaway woody allen one-liners but really this movie is just an embarrassment.
  • There is no doubt that Woody Allen wholeheartedly loves New York City, but his attempt to illustrate the city in a Fellini-like fashion results in making the city look touristy. Seemingly the film has influenced the younger generation of New York based filmmakers and even they have made homage to this film (i.e., Jim Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise similarly consists of well-composed medium shots and has a resembling scene of four persons sitting in a theatre. Also, Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It features analogous landscape montages and has an akin scene of the protagonist running to meet his lover). Ironically, these youngsters present the city in more genuine manners and give Allen's Manhattan an obsolete look.

    Though the portrait of immature middle-aged people who can't deal with their relationships might be real, who wants to see that? Especially, Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) soliciting his former 17-year-old lover Tracy (Mariel Hemingway) not to leave for London, after discovering his other relationship doesn't work, is unbearable to watch. All central characters, maybe except 17-year-old Tracy, have the same typical-Allen-like personas in their ways of thinking and behaving--Allen might have a dictatorship as a director and it causes the lack of the characters' diversity. The screenplay contains many cliches (i.e., Allen's voiceover monologue on the opening montage to depict the city as a book's Chapter One, several pseudo-intellectual lines such as Isaac's describing his friends as "pseudo-intellectual garbage" talking about "existential reality," Isaac's line "Trouble is my middle name" after his prospective lover says she's troublesome, and so on). Cinematography by Gordon Willis is inappropriately beautiful; the gap between the aesthetic visual and the half-grown content generates an uncompelling, halfway style.
  • I'm going to bring down the IMDb average for this celebrated "modern masterpiece", by dint of the simple fact that I think it's highly overrated. Watching it through, I rarely smiled, let alone laughed and had zero interest in the Jewish (pseudo-) intellectual (g)literati portrayed or their tangled love lives.

    I will also break cover and say that I found the insertion of a romance between a 42 year old male and a 17 year old girl fresh out of high - school spurious to say the least. Allen writes his usual "good to be Woody" part in bedding the afore-mentioned Mariel Hemingway and the grossly overrated Diane Keaton, cramming far too many words into the screenplay to the extent that I was willing the next George Gershwin composition onto the screen to distract my attention.

    In fact only Gershwin's sublime music and Gordon Willis' justly venerated cinematography impart any relief from the tedium in this very boring navel-gazing exercise in psychobabble which says precisely nothing about the human condition, at least to me.

    Unfunnily serious or seriously unfunny, either works for me...
  • From a technical standpoint, this film is top-notch - the acting is brilliant, the cinematography is beautiful, and the George Gershwin soundtrack is excellent.

    But the content of the film is another thing. Basically, Woody Allen comes across as an egomaniacal creep who writes parts for himself in order to make him look like he's God's gift to women (there are so many references to his sexual prowess one could start a group drinking game based off it).

    And anybody with even a beginner's understanding of adolescent psychological development knows that men who pursue teenage girls are sick and sadistic bastards who find joy in ruining promising young lives.

    So my summary is: Like the film for its craft, but loathe the creator for his statement.
  • Holy Christ is this film overrated! Every character in the movie is painfully annoying and irritating. Woody Allen's 42 y/o character is statutorily raping a 17 year old girl (in high school with homework but spends the night at Woody's...way to go dad) throughout the movie. Every character (yes, every character) in the movie is fine with this...they even go out with Woody and the girl. The film is hailed as a work of art for its supposed insights into Americans and the struggles they encounter in the quest for love...we're supposed to be able to relate to the movie and its characters, yet if you would take a moment to put the bong down and think, you would discover that you've never met people that actually talk and exchange dialog remotely close to what goes on in the film. Seriously, when was the last time you heard anything close to the pseudo-intellectual trash spewed by Keaton's character uttered by someone walking by you on the street. How about someone babbling incessantly over the most inane "insights" into the human condition? When is the last time you heard that nonsense raping your ears? The Jewish stereotypes revolving around whining and insecurity are played out to the max. If you get a choice between seeing this movie or death by anal impalement, I'd say enjoy your funeral. I'm performing lobotomies free of charge for those who liked this movie.
  • Lechuguilla11 December 2004
    You really have to be a Woody Allen fan to appreciate this '79 film that explores contemporary personal relationships in the Big Apple. The film's script is so huge as to approach infinity. Allen drones on and on and on and on about nothing in particular. Occasionally, the script conveys some tepid humor, but mostly it is just tedious.

    Ostensibly, "Manhattan" is a tribute to NYC. But, since the film was written and directed by Woody Allen, and since the plot revolves around Allen's character, my impression is that the film was meant more as Woody Allen's tribute to himself.

    In a major support role, Diane Keaton is good. And, at times, the B&W photography is engaging. However, more often than not, especially in interior shots, the camera just sits there, while actors parade in front of it. The Gershwin music was nice, but I could have wished for more of it, to help pass the time while watching a diffident Allen mouth his nearly limitless lines.
  • "You probably think I'm too cerebral," Diane Keaton tells Woody Allen midway through this acclaimed film. Had that remark been made to me, I would have said, "No. Just pretentious." It's a verdict I would reach concerning all of Allen's overrated 1979 film, the first in which he starred since the Oscar winning "Annie Hall." Here, he continues the wearying pseudo-intellectual tone of that earlier film, but while "Annie Hall" compensated for its pretentions with an abundance of humor, much of it aimed at pseudo-intellectuals (Allen apparently does not recognize himself as a member of this group), the laughs in "Manhattan" (and there are plenty of them) are unintentional. As usual, Allen's characters speak in the vernacular of dime store psychologists and art critics, repeatedly referring to "hostility," as well as Freud and Bergman--Ingmar, of course, not Ingrid, although I doubt that any of these smug characters could say an intelligent word about "The Bells of St. Mary's," let alone "The Seventh Seal." "I'm beautiful, I'm bright, and I deserve better," Keaton says at one point, but her self-assessment would be more accurately applied to Meryl Streep who, as the wife who dumps Allen for another woman, IS beautiful, bright, and certainly deserving of something better than this mess concocted by a man whose character is described as someone who "longed to be an artist but balked at the necessary sacrifices." In "Manhattan," Allen balks like never before, dishing up superficially "deep" subject matter, but lacking the insight and, I suspect, the experience, to adequately probe it. Allen, the aloof and reclusive New Yorker, has made an arty, though not artistic, vanity production that demonstrates a poor grasp on any life outside his own snobby circle. And, like a circle, "Manhattan" doesn't end, it merely stops, dead in its tracks. It is, however, his second funniest film. (The funniest, by a long shot, is "Interiors.")
  • In Manhattan, Isac Davis (Woody Allen) is a divorced writer of TV shows unhappy with his job. His ex-wife left him to live with another woman and is writing a book about her relationship with Isac. He presently dates a seventeen years old high-school student, Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), who is in love with him, but he does not like her. When he meets Mary Wilkie (Diane Keaton), the mistress of his married best friend Yale (Michael Murphy), he has a crush on her. He finishes with Tracy and has an affair with Mary, affecting the lives of many persons including his own.

    "Manhattan" is, in my opinion, the best film by Woody Allen, of whom I am a big fan. I have all Woody Allen movies in my collection, but "Manhattan" is my favorite one, a masterpiece about relationship in a cold huge city. There are many fantastic lines along the witty story, with right doses of his typical bitter humor and romance. The black and white cinematography by Gordon Willis is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen in a film. There is a specific scene, used on the cover of the DVD and the poster of this movie, that is amazingly wonderful. Mariel Hemingway certainly has her best performance in the fantastic and very touching character Tracy. The music score, with Gershwin, completes this magnificent movie. I do not have enough adjectives in English to eulogize this masterpiece. My vote is ten.

    Title (Brazil): "Manhattan"

    Note: On 22 Nov 2016, I saw this film again.
  • As you peek into an another episode from the life of Woody Allen, the first thing you'll notice is the rich cinematography (obviously influenced by Bergman which is proved by some remarks on account of him during the film). Another thing that contributes to the overall vibe of the movie is a quality smooth jazz soundtrack.

    Although visually stunning and iconic, this flick does have a slight drawback which is the screenplay. Despite Allen's never disappointing deadpan humor and his natural delivery of the lines, the story does tend to get a bit predictable at times.

    But the thing that gives this movie its true quality is a beautiful portrayal of New York, especially in the opening sequence.
  • tedg12 January 2004
    Woody does two kinds of films: those in which he experiments by creating bold essays in exploration of a single idea, and those where he relaxes and employs his whole palette.

    This is one of his essays. In 'Annie Hall' the project was all about coordinated levels of narratives, trying to outdo 'Citizen Kane' in the variety an overlay of narrative types. In fact, there were dozens of types and a whole storyline that were cut to make the thing somewhat comprehendable.

    Here, he focuses on finely managed vision, the Eisensteinian overlay of images to build and build a fabric. That fabric is orchestrated from Gershwin, the fabric of the city and a remarkable framing of intimate scenes in a larger context. It is worth seeing on those terms alone. Framed movement.

    Everything is subservient to this essay, which is competent and original. But the story -- such as it is -- is there only as something to hold the space, a simple placeholder about seekers of warmth and shared breath.

    But even so, that story is completely captured by the remarkable Murial Hemingway. Everyone else acts, and their characters appear to be finding themselves. They fumble around with who they are. Muriel is true, so much so we suspect she is not acting at all, or at least not in the sense the others do.

    It is 25 years later, and that time has deepened this film, in part because few filmmakers since have used the anamorphic ratio for intimate purposes. The display of films on TeeVee screens has made that unfeasible.

    But there is something else. Watching Muriel, we know that this moment will be her fullest, her only connection with the transcendent. Forces of the city, not entirely unlike Woody's character, would disassemble and destroy her. That last, punctuated moment in the lobby would her movement into an abyss beyond the innocent purity she plays, and the visual approach to the material Woody underscores.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
  • I first saw this alleged masterpiece in a theatre when it came out. I will refrain from commenting on that experience except to note that I (and the three other patrons in the whole theatre) walked out midway through the movie realizing that we should cut our losses and leave. As college students, our time was not particularly valuable but we had already lost an hour of our lives that we would never get back.

    Fast forward many years to a sleepless night. Apparently, HBO or Showtime had acquired this stinker as filler for the 3:00 AM time slot. Wanting desperately to enter dreamland, I watched the entirety of the meager offering and realized that it was not callow immaturity that had me turn my nose at this dreck many years before. This is truly a bad movie. It is filled with the usual self-absorptive navel gazing that any Woody Allen product is famous for but it does it on a scale of grand pretentiousness (eg. b&w, the notion that pubescent girls are attracted to trolls, the waste of otherwise talented people) that dwarfs anything that this Ed Wood impersonator has done before or since.

    The genius of Woody Allen is not in his "art" but in his marketing skill. He has convinced an enormous portion of the "faux art house" crowd that his output is somehow sublimely transcendant and that those who view his ego driven made for TV releases are indeed fortunate that he has allowed them to shell out hard earned money time and again for the same story with different faces. Where was this guy when Coca Cola trotted out New Coke. He should have been in charge of the ad campaign.

    Enough general adulation for our diminutive hero. The movie recounts the threadbare old male fantasy of the older dude getting the young chick and then realizing that older chicks are better lays. I would swear that Richard Gere has done variations on this movie at least a dozen times. Woodrow is entirely unbelievable in the role of the older dude. I suppose that he realized the limitations of his performance when he insisted on redoing the movie for free. In the ensuing decades since its release, Woodrow has worked on various stage versions of this role, culminating in his relationship with his adopted- step- semi- daughter. I think I speak for most Americans when I say "eeeeewwwwwwwwww".

    At any rate, don't waste money renting Manhattan. Don't waste time watching it. Don't think that it will put you to sleep because you will not rest knowing that a good number of people set out to make an acceptable movie and somewhere along the way things went very wrong.
  • Based on my conversations there seem to be only two reactions possible to Woody Allen: some love him and think he's a genius, others hate him and think he's a fraud. If you fall into the former group, you'll love this movie. If, on the other hand, you belong to the latter group (I confess that I do) you'll think this movie is a sham.

    Perhaps I don't have a deep enough understanding of the technical and more sublime aspects of film-making. I do, however think that I know a good movie when I see one. This just doesn't qualify as one for me. I found little enjoyable in this tale of a neurotic, secularized New York Jew who is in love (and having sexual relations) with an underage girl. (Gee, hard to picture Woody in that kind of role, isn't it? He must have had to really extend his acting ability to pull this off!) As an actor, I think Woody has a very limited talent. As a director, almost everyone agrees that Woody has a rather quirky style. Most seem to use that word to mean charming, I suppose. But I simply find him irritating. As with other Woody movies I've seen, "Manhattan" features a silly storyline, bad humour and strange directorial decisions (like filming in black and white.) So, was there anything in this movie that I liked?

    I must confess that I admire Woody for his ability to be self-deprecating. He's obviously in many ways poking fun at himself in this. Neurotic, narcissistic, self-absorbed. These are words that get used to describe Isaac (his character) and they apply full-well to Allen. The best line of the movie surely came from Tracy (Mariel Hemingway): "you shouldn't talk so much. You have a whiny voice." Hear! Hear! So I really do admire Woody for poking fun at himself. I also thought Mariel Hemingway (in one of her earlier roles) was very good as Tracy, Isaac's 17 year old love interest.

    Those things don't, however - for me at least - make up for the shortcomings of the movie. I rated it as a 3/10.
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