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
Mary (Diane Keaton) is supposed to be an intellectual, but when she says the name Diane Arbus, she mispronounces it, saying "Diane" the same way you would say Diane Keaton. Diane Arbus' first name is pronounced "Dee-Ann". See more »
[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 »
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.
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