Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
Forty-two year old Isaac Davis has a romanticized view of his hometown, New York City, most specifically Manhattan, as channeled through the lead character in the first book he is writing, despite his own Manhattan-based life being more of a tragicomedy. He has just quit his job as a hack writer for a bad television comedy, he, beyond the ten second rush of endorphins during the actual act of quitting, now regretting the decision, especially as he isn't sure he can live off his book writing career. He is paying two alimonies, his second ex-wife, Jill Davis, a lesbian, who is writing her own tell-all book of their acrimonious split. The one somewhat positive aspect of his life is that he is dating a young woman named Tracy, although she is only seventeen and still in high school. Largely because of their differences a big part of which is due to their ages, he does not see a long term future with her. His life has the potential to be even more tragicomical when he meets journalist Mary...Written by
[music: the opening of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Voiceover]
Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. Eh uh, no, make that he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Better. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no, let me start this over.
Chapter One: He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on...
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One of the very few Woody Allen films to not have traditional opening credits, save the production company bumper (United Artists), and the film title MANHATTAN is seen as a long vertical flashing bright neon sign, located on the side of a New York City building, and is seen for under seven seconds just before Woody Allen narrates his first line. See more »
Visual Romanticism and Emotional Cynicism Converge !!!
Visually, 'Manhattan' is nothing short of a loving, deeply passionate tribute by Woody Allen to his beloved New York and more specifically Manhattan. Manhattan is made to look absolutely beautiful with the help of Gordon Willis' widescreen photography. Allen uses the Black & White visual texture to romanticise New York and make it look like the New York of the movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood. However there lies the deliberate contradiction in the film. Unlike the 'happily ever-after' relationships of Classic Hollywood, in 'Manhattan', in accordance with the running theme in almost every other Woody Allen film, true and long lasting love is almost impossible to find. Similar to his other films, the characters here belong to the intellectual upper/upper-middle class and they are shown to be completely immersed in narcissism. They are lonely, but they choose to hide behind their armour of intellectualism. They want company, but they lose patience and get afflicted with doubt and boredom as soon as the hint of a potentially lasting relationship raises its head. Allen adds to the meta-element in the film by making fun of his own self constantly as the real life Woody Allen too is a part of the intellectual class that he is making fun of in 'Manhattan' and some of the comedic taunts directed at the character of Isaac seem like direct jabs at his own self. The film's ending is pitch perfect as it underlines(without seeming didactic) the need for hopefulness instead of pseudo-intellectual cynicism, a need for a little more faith in romance and a little more faith in humanity, so that the romanticised visuals of New York get to complement instead of contradict the sensibilities of its residents.
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