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
According to Jeff Stafford at the TCMDb, "When Manhattan (1979) was first released, there was some criticism leveled at the film for its depiction of a romance between a teenager and a 42-year-old man but several biographical sources have suggested that the relationship had a real-life parallel in Woody Allen's two-year romance with actress Stacey Nelkin. Reportedly, Allen met Nelkin on the set of Annie Hall (1977) when she was a mere 17-year-old extra (Her small part ended up on the cutting room floor). Certain aspects of the Isaac-Tracy relationship may also have been inspired by Allen's real-life correspondence with 13-year-old pen pal, Nancy Jo Sales". See more »
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 »
It seems Woody Allen wanted to denounce the pseudo-intellectualism, yet Manhattan is overly arrogant, like its ultra verbose dialogues, based on almost ridiculous, pedant and excluding accumulations of art references.
The viewer finds himself enduring this long and boring movie, oozing self-sufficiency, which script boils down to a succession of scenes more boring one from another. The different angles don't work, or with difficulty: it is sometimes funny but it is too sporadic, the drama lacks stakes; only the romance aspect manages not too badly, and still, it is far from excellent.
If there was anything to save, it would be the stylish cinematography with some well thought-out shots, but it's just not enough to make Manhattan a good film.
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