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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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The majestic buildings, the gravity-defying bridges, the beautiful imagery of New York City in black-and-white pulsating to the rhythm of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" like fireworks of emotions, this is Manhattan, a town with a soul. Whether dangerous, insomniac, intellectual or streetwise, New York is again the perfect arena for the eternal battle between brains and passions, dreams and reality, hope and disillusions, indispensable for some minds in quest of inspiration.

    Woody Allen is one of these minds, Isaac, the character he plays, too, but Isaac mirrors more of Allen's personality than any other character he played. It's the medium of Woody's soul allowing him to say that "Bergman is the only genius of Cinema" and to express his contempt toward "pseudo-intellectual" stuff, like an alibi against his detractors. But Woody doesn't deny his flaws, his character represents the struggle of a soul trying to embody Manhattan's incarnation of the American Dream, but as he stutters in the opening line, unable to pass 'Chapter One', he can't find inspiration. His friend Yale (Michael Murphy) says he's got a "Freudian" relationship with New York, it's more than that, it's Oedipian because he knows he's in love with this city, but is incapable to make himself worthy of that love. But Manhattan is more than a movie about love; it's about the strange effect of love in mature people. And Isaac, like Woody is mature … age-wise of course.

    Isaac is 42, and he realizes it's an interesting age where his mind became his greatest asset, and since he evolves in an artistic milieu, he's clearly in his advantage. Through "Manhattan" and Gershwin's music, it's the whole intellectual and artistic underground world of New York that lets its soul implode, it's to New York what Saint-Germain was to Paris in the existentialist 50's. But in the 70's, New York became the center of the underground culture, of sexual liberation, of the whole questioning of the American heritage without the idealism of the late 60's or the pessimism of the post-Nixon era. Everything is debatable, war, marriage, orgasms and nothing is to be taken for granted. The film was made in 1979, just before the 80's would provide their depressing cynicism and flamboyant superficiality, not sure Isaac could have quited his job of screenwriter for TV programs to fulfill his dream of writing a book in the 80's, (a coincidence that he finally works on TV in "Hannah and Her Sisters"?)

    Aware or not that the days of his sex appeal are numbered, Isaac seems to have a way with women and to enjoy that, too. He had two wives, and now he's dating Tracy a 17-year old high school girl (Mariel Hemingway), but he has a crush on Mary, Diane Keaton, Yale's mistress. The way he handles the two relationships is a masterstroke of clever writing and realism. In the beginning, he finds Mary not only too pompous, but calls her a pseudo- intellectual, unaware that he behaves the same way when he's with Tracy, becoming the typical neurotic Allen-guy. Love is a field of paradoxes, Isaac embodies the hypocritical break-up excuse, when the one who breaks says: "You deserve better" (meaning the opposite of course) and Mary who doesn't want to wreck a marriage feels hurt when Yale breaks up with her. Allen's directing never 'accuses', we feel this strange chemistry going between Mary and Isaac, in a romantic moment where they're in the dark planetarium, they're about to kiss, but Isaac retracts, because he's still with Tracy, what Mary understands. These subtle, yet delicate moments elevate "Manhattan" above anything we saw before, and even after.

    An on the top of these moments, there's the image of Mariel Hemingway's eyes tearing when she realizes he didn't love her and he's making a whole pointless speech while her heart is broken. Hemingway, who deserved her Oscar nomination for that role, is genuinely sweet, tender and natural in what probably is the most difficult role of the film, because she has no monologues, she's doesn't belong to that tormented world, all she sees is that she cares for Isaac and she's in love with him, something that Isaac fails to consider. Allen is a genius in the way he portrays sentimental relationships and how we're more eager to love people we idealize than those who idealize us, and how we tend to lie to ourselves, just to satisfy our egos more than our hearts. An interesting subplot involves a book written by Isaac's ex-wife, played by Meryl Streep and in a scene where Mary, Yale and his wife finally read some excerpts, they all laugh at him. And as viewers, we know that Tracy wouldn't have laughed.

    "Manhattan"'s ending is as sweet and realistic as it could get, people who lied to themselves reveal their true feelings, and Isaac realized that his heart was kept as hostage of a sort of sentimental blackmail between his girlfriend and his best friend. "Manhattan" is the realization of a man who loved intellectuality and intellectualized love, at the end, when he's lost everything, his job, his girl, out of false impulses. He finds himself the remedy for the pain, in one of the most memorable scenes of Allen's filmography when he records all the things that makes life worth living: Groucho Marx, Flaubert's "Sentimental Education", Bergman, Brando and as we expect, it ends with … Tracy. The film's ending is a mix of "Casablanca" and "City Lights" and Allen tries to find the perfect note to convince Tracy to come back to him, all it will take him is some patience and a "little faith in people".

    Tracy's concluding lines confirm that "brain is the most overrated organ", and how ironic that it comes from Woody Allen, in what remains one of his greatest films, so sweet, intelligent and witty that I guess I would nominate his scripts as one of the things that make my life worth living.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.")
  • we all are fascinated by the cinema scope(CS) vision and what beautiful image it gives us. it is a debatable weather it resembles our normal vision or not but one things for sure we hardly give importance to things too far left and right of our vision. keeping this in mind its really not advisable to make use of it in each and every film. i have spent so much time writing so much about cinema scope is bcoz after watching several films i finally got to see an extremely good use of this sort of aspect ratio, WOODY has definitely made an important decision and has made the most of it.

    the introduction of Manhattan in the early scene, the long walk of two friends after dinner, wide roads of the city, woody's apartment, Murphy's phone conversation, all shout out the brilliant use of CS. woody very smartly squeezes the frame by placing something in the foreground, or keeping the actors in a closer frame as and when required.

    overall it gives us an expression of vastness of city and makes a exuberant locale for the characters to play their part. gordon willis' ligting also helps in making the picture look life-like and get the feel of manhattan(check out the use of no light,blackout) well to say the least i have never seen manhattan (with my own eyes) but because of such a detailed work i have a glimpse of it.

    good work woody (your films have never failed to fascinate me no matter how many times i may see them)
  • Woody Allen's Manhattan is a testament to the great city, and I liked it alot. It flowed like a play, and much of it was funny, some was sad, and some was interesting. The plot gets confusing, but that was good, because the viewer (me) can get enchanted in Woody's fascination with New York (led powerfully by the great music of George Gershwin). Well written, well directed and well acted, this film might be his best masterpiece to date (it's one of my fav's).
  • In this movie, Wordy Allen makes love to George Gershwin, New York City, Diane Keaton, and an underage girl. Never all in the same scene, though. It was only 1979 after all, and the world hadn't yet been freed by the sexual revolution of the 1990s Mickey Mouse Club cast.

    I like the parts where Wordy stammers and fumbles around the set, making random references to philosophers and authors that most people have never read. It makes me feel like a genius when he mentions Kierkegaard or Kafka and I can say "I get that!" None of my friends ever want to talk about existential despair, so when I pop one of ol' Wordy's movies in, it feels like spending time with the friend I always wanted.. the friend I always deserved.. not like the stupid ones I actually ended up with.

    Plus, it was filmed in black and white, so you know right away that it's good!
  • I like Woody Allen movies but I have to admit this one was not my favourite. I do not know why but the fact of the 17 years old girl's love made my heart feel bad. I can see that she was supposed to display that there are no confines between two people loving each other even if the difference of age is 25 years. The main problem was that Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) did not believe from the very beginning that their love could come true. He believed in such a firm way which made me loose interest focusing on his and Tracy's (Mariel Hemingway) relationship. But on the other hand, it is a terrific example for love finding people at random.

    After the appearance of Mary Wilkie (Diane Keaton) there was a slight turn in the film as it was a kind of predictable that her and Isaac would find each other sooner or later. I think, she delivered a memorable performance and I cannot comprehend why she did not get nominated for an Academy Award.

    Anyway, Manhattan is a delightful film with the usual Woody Allen message.

    9 OUT OF 10
  • One of Woody Allen's best films was the quietly beautiful MANHATTAN, an economic and cleverly mounted comedy drama which stars Woody as a divorced writer (Allen) who is having an affair with a high school student (Mariel Hemingway) but feels the relationship is dead-end and then drifts into a relationship with his best friend's mistress (Diane Keaton). This is classic Woody, filled with snappy dialogue, unexpected plot twists and sparkling performances, especially by Keaton, Hemingway (who was nominated for an Oscar), and Michael Murphy as Woody's best friend...and it's all filmed in glorious black and white. I don't think the city that Woody loves so dearly has ever looked more glorious than it does in this film...this is definitely Woody's valentine to New York and it is a film made with delicacy and grace and, like most of Woody's films, features a beautiful musical score, a loving tribute to the magic of George Gershwin. If you're a Woody-phile, this one is a must.
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