What a fantastic movie! Everything. The acting, the charm of the characters, the location, the writing. Everything.
Definitely deserves a re-watch.
'Manhattan' is a highly enjoyable addition to Woody Allen's filmography, with great performances and a witty script, all helped along by an excellent score by George Gershwin.
This is also a celebration of unrequited love, missed connections, and ambiguity. For all his musings on how pointless life ultimately is to him, Allen is a man who keeps coming back to "fate" or purpose, and that's all over this film.
"Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat." Opening to this enthralling monologue from the hands of Allen, we are instantly cast into a world that implements a raw and detailed look into a New York of yesteryear. Allen provides us with an intricate character study that addresses subjects like adultery, drug addiction and sexual prowess, whilst examining the effects on each individual and the city around them.
Each acting body present gives their utmost best in regards to performances with Allen and Keaton leading the way, each captured stunningly by utterly gorgeous black and white cinematography that captures the hustle and bustle of the city in elaborate detail. Whilst the film does thin towards the middle, the confident screenplay and witty humour make up for the minor flaws that exist, thus giving us one of the most self-assured films in cinema.
Lots of wit and banter, which sometimes seems to be the ultimate ground of the film.
People driven by self-destructive impulses due to a lack of maturity and direction, which leads to forest fires that they then try to put out with more fire causing a downward spiral of self-absorbed ever-escalating drama.
It was best summed up by Woody Allen's ex-wife in her book telling all of their marriage and divorce. My rendition of it is my own observation.
And then at the end there's a excellent summation of the lunacy of it all with the great simple wisdom, "It's very important to have some kind of personal integrity."
The one with the greatest wisdom is the 17-year old played Mariel Hemingway.
Loved hearing of the psychoanalyst that goes into a coma due to a bad acid experience. There were some very funny scenes. Listening to that and hearing of EST really grounded it in its time. Despite it being a 1979 New York film, it fortunately isn't weighted down with too many references of its time. Also, the deep emotional and behavioral themes it deals with has it be entered into the cinematic annals as a timeless work of art.
Presenting it in black and white works really well as a nice artistic touch.
Okay but not overly engaging, interesting or profound. Really just a romantic-drama, and nothing more. The clever humour which usually typifies Woody Allen movies is very few and far between and what there is generally doesn't quite have the some intelligence and zing as his usual stuff.
So that just leaves it as a drama, and, as mentioned, it's just a romantic drama, so nothing too profound can come from it. There are some decent intrigues to sustain the movie, but that is about it.
The 42-year-old-with-17-year-old was also a bit creepy. This aspect of the movie seemed to be explained well and the issue gotten past, but then the conclusion wrecks that. Very unsatisfactory ending, and undoes a lot of the progress that came before it.
On the plus side, there were some good jabs at the pretentiousness of New York society. The cinematography is great too: filmed in black and white with some wonderful, loving, lingering shots of New York skylines and landmarks.
Can't fault the performances either. Woody Allen does what he does best - playing himself. Diane Keaton is the pick of the bunch as the intelligent, over-analysing, knowingly-beautiful, self-obsessed Mary. Meryl Streep, in only her third feature film (her second was The Deer Hunter), is great in a supporting role.