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|Index||207 reviews in total|
99 out of 117 people found the following review useful:
Magical film about the city and those looking for love, 5 January 2005
Author: j30bell (firstname.lastname@example.org) from London, England
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.
72 out of 90 people found the following review useful:
Rhapsody in NYC, 25 January 2003
Author: tvspace from hiding under my seat
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.
45 out of 70 people found the following review useful:
A love song to Manhattan disguised as romantic comedy, 14 May 1999
Author: (email@example.com) from Vancouver
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
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
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.
42 out of 65 people found the following review useful:
For anyone who's been in love, or anyone who loves New York., 3 January 1999
Author: Scorsese-2 from Little Italy
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.
26 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Allen's best, 12 April 2003
Author: rbverhoef (firstname.lastname@example.org) from The Hague, Netherlands
'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
'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.
19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
"Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Beneath his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.", 11 May 2007
Author: ackstasis from Australia
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.
21 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Neurotic in NYC, 4 February 2008
Author: brocksilvey from United States
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.
8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Girls mature faster than guys... The growing pains of a man and a woman in the heart of metropolis., 11 February 2008
Author: Howlin Wolf from Oldham, Gtr Manchester, England.
*** This review may contain 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...
29 out of 53 people found the following review useful:
The Masterpiece of Woody Allen, 22 July 2005
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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 movie of 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 story, with right doses of his typical bitter humor and romance. The black and white photography of 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 of 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"
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Cinemascope well used, 10 January 2008
Author: navs navs from India
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)
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