See This: Manhattan

Waffles the dachshund, Diane Keaton and Woody Allen watch the day come up in Manhattan

 

 

Woody Allen’s 1979 magnum opus starts famously with a long montage which appears to suggest that New York is to the modern world what Paris was in the early half of the 20th century – the home of romance, intellectualism, art, sex and impossible glamour. To the sinuous jazz of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Allen treats us to a sequence of lush black and white images such as Robert Doisneau or Henri Cartier-Bresson might have taken. And then, in the filmic equivalent of dragging the needle off the record, he appears to say ‘Hang on – the French may be mature, worldly and philosophical. But New Yorkers?’ The next 90 minutes play out like a long comic pay-off to this short set-up, as we’re introduced to a succession of grasping, whiney, selfish Big Apple residents (played by Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Michael Murphy), each of whom believes he/she is the epitome of integrity, kindness and intelligence. Only Allen’s 17-year-old screen girlfriend (Mariel Hemingway) escapes unscathed, too young to have been tainted by the ‘me me me’ culture. Surprisingly, Allen wan’t lynched by his fellow New Yorkers for this unflattering portrait. Perhaps they were laughing too much to realise how barbed it was.

© Steve Morrissey 2006

 

Manhattan – at Amazon

 

 

 

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  • Manhattan (1979) Comedy, Drama, Romance | 1h 36min | 25 April 1979 (USA) 7.9
    Director: Woody AllenWriters: Woody Allen, Marshall BrickmanStars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel HemingwaySummary: 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 Huggo

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