Ciao! Manhattan (1972)
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Critic Reviews for Ciao! Manhattan
At bottom Ciao! Manhattan is cruel exploitation -- though the film is dedicated to Miss Sedgwick's memory, an ultimate indignity.
Not a great movie, but absolutely essential viewing.
Whether [Edie Sedgwick] is acting or stoned-for-real with a model's instincts propping her up, her performance is wonderful, highly amusing at all the right moments, yet melancholy in a way which is free of self-pity.
Audience Reviews for Ciao! Manhattan
This interesting train wreck of a movie captures a time through a different time, each equally fucked up. CIAO! MANHATTAN more than anything, through all of its nonsense, captures the sad and miserable life of Edie Sedgwick who appeared to have it all when she in fact had nothing. She participates in her own exploitation and destruction all for the camera. CIAO! MANHATTAN cannot be deemed a good film, it's so totally inept, but it is an extraordinary work that captures the inner workings of a very sad life that was not destroyed by fame but by family and "friends."
It's been mentioned before, but Edie is the only real draw to this film. She is incandescent (probably because of the massive amounts of speed she was on) in the "flashback" 1967 scenes, and bordering on grotesque in the "modern" 1971 scenes. Either way, you can't really look away. She is a great and tragic reminder of fame's tendency to chew you up and spit you out, and much like Marilyn in her later films, you just want to give her a big hug and tell her that it will all be okay. That being said, the rest of the film is somewhat... icky to watch, with all male characters having that greasy STD look about them that was so popular in the 1970's (except the Jesus character, who had beautiful eyes.) The plot was at best confusing, and not in an entertaining way (at least if you aren't on drugs when watching it.) The constant breasts are obviously exploitative, and the alien/spaceship references are obtuse. I don't regret watching it, but certainly don't recommend.
The idea of Ciao! Manhattan could have worked, but due to poor acting and a confusing plot line, it takes its place on the list of the worst films I have ever seen. The whole plot of the films revolves around a girl named Susan, played by Edie Sedgwick. The film is biographical for the most part, but at many instances fictitious. It touches somewhat on Edie's time at The Factory in New York City, which was where Andy Warhol did his films and art. It switches between the present (color) and the past (black and white). The color portions were filmed in 1971, while the black and white in 1967. The movie begins with a Texan drifter, whose name I can't remember (for he is one of the biggest douchebags I have ever seen on the screen) picks up a hitchhiking Susan. He takes her back to her home in California where she lives in an empty, tent-covered swimming pool in the back yard of her mother's wealthy estate. Inside the tent, Susan has the walls of the pool decorated with old pictures of herself (or Edie) and other 60s memorabilia. She has a record player and a water bed mattress, on which she lies half-naked and high on who knows what. Throughout the film, Susan reminisces on her past in New York to our douchbag Texan friend. This is when the film makes a switch to the 1967 black and white portion, which it often does throughout. Before going into my views on the 1967 film, let me finish by saying the color portions are horrid. The acting is horrible, even Sedgwick herself. Everyone looks high as a kite. The Texan man, when asked by Susan's mother what he wants to do with his life, says he wants to make UFOs. What kind of stupid answer is that? He also likes to refer to people as a "fucker". I don't know about you, but something spells "lame" in this character, and he is one of the biggest flaws in this film. Now onto the black and white portions. I actually rather enjoyed the old vintage footage of Edie in her prime. There are even some cool experimental camera tricks, such as when someone takes a taste of cocaine, it cuts to a shot of the Empire State Building, which begins spinning. This was probably the most enjoyable part of the movie. These portions are at times very watchable, but once again, Ciao! Manhattan has some very big flaws in the bag. First off, one of the most annoying things are the dubbed voices. Yes. Dubbed. Not by different people, but by the same people playing the characters. How can I tell? It's damn obvious. The words even fit with the mouths, so why the need for dubbing? It is quite frankly, annoying as hell. The storyline is really hard to follow. It centers around this creepy, old rich guy named Mr. Madekeo. Madekeo keeps video surveillance on Susan. Why? I really can't tell you, I don't even know myself. Oh and guess what? Yep. His voice is dubbed too. But I'm not sure if it is the guy's real voice. He has an almost cartoony, Godzilla-esque dub for a voice. He sounds very, very, silly. I really don't understand why they did this. The film could have been at least a star higher then what I gave it if not for the color scenes, they utterly ruin it. Like I said before, that Texan character ruined it horribly. I really could have dealt just fine without him commenting on how Susan's tits had gotten bigger. Wow! What a douche! From what I could gather, Edie didn't do a bad job in the 1967 film, but she is almost unwatchable in the 1971. I'm sure it didn't help that she was stoned off her ass during filming, as were the rest of the crew. I would have been perfectly fine if they had done what they could with the 1967 portions and made a film out of that instead, no matter how chopped up it would have been, it wouldn't have made sense anyway. If the dubs weren't there, then maybe it would have been a great experimental film. Overall, Ciao! Manhattan is a complete mess. I recommend it solely for Edie Sedgwick fans and no one else. This really has not made me like Edie less or more, in fact it just kind of wasted my time. I know she was and is a fascinating spectacle of 1960s culture. If you need to satisfy your cravings, perhaps you can look into the upcoming documentary "Edie: Girl on Fire". It should be way better than this shitfest. The star goes for Edie, the half is for the film.
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