Manhattan (1979) – Woody Allen

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The Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book’s next title and recommendations are a series of Woody Allen films, which should be interesting, because I’ve never been a huge fan.

The main title of the section is Manhattan, and I’m a little divided on it. Backed with some beautiful Gershwin tunes, and shot in black and white, the film serves as a beautiful love letter to New York, the music and the imagery complimenting one another perfectly,

Allen stars as Isaac, 42, a neurotic writer who quits his television show, and worries over the three women he’s emotionally attached to. There’s his ex-wife, Jill (Meryl Streep), who has divorced him for another woman, Connie (Karen Ludwig) and is writing an expose of their divorce, he’s falling in love with Mary (Diane Keaton), his best friend Yale’s (Michael Murphy) mistress, despite being married to Emily (Anne Byrne Hoffman), and he’s dating Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), a 17 year-old high school student (this is rather troublesome, and I can’t believe how none of the characters are bothered by it, in fact they all seem to think it’s fine!! And of course with similar occurrences in Allen’s life, it seems a little prescient).

The three leading ladies, Hemingway, Streep and Keaton all turn in fine performances, and Streep’s character seems to revel in causing Isaac grief and paranoia about what is talked about in the forthcoming book.

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The scenes between Allen and Keaton are the strongest of the film, and their sequences together as the wander about the city are my favorite, especially the famous bridge sequence, it looks gorgeous, and once again, Gershwin’s music is the perfect companion for the story and imagery that Allen puts on the screen.

As the story progresses, Isaac realizes he’s most happy with Tracy, and makes a decision in the last few minutes of the film, which brings us to the ending…

They may not necessarily end up together, I think that depends on what emotional baggage you bring along with you when you come into the theatre.

The dialogue is sharp, and occasionally very funny, but never dwelled on, even the punch lines, they just keep moving along at the pace of real conversations, which is nice, because Allen does have an ear for playful dialogue.

This one is head and shoulders above the Allen film I reviewed on the Science Fiction list, Sleeper, but again, isn’t something I could see myself revisiting on a regular basis.

It does look gorgeous however, and Hemingway garnered herself an Oscar nomination for her performance.

So, perhaps these next few titles won’t be so bad… Stay tuned to find out!

And see Jeremy Lalonde! I told you I would start watching some Allen films… And I also promise I’m trying to give them a fair shake!

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