Tuesday, January 7, 2014

240 of 1001 Movies: Manhattan (1979)

Before Midnight in Paris, many said that Manhattan was the last great Woody Allen movie made, which is pretty sad considering Manhattan was made only a little over a decade after his directing career started. I wouldn't know though as I've never seen anything of Allen's between the 90's and up till 2011. I do know that I have liked everything I've watched of his. Perhaps it's just the humor, or the way he portrays everyone as always growing in some ways in his movies that makes it alluring. He never sets out to make his characters look like good people, and they are selfish, but yet they become likable. Manhattan is set against the romantic backdrop of the city as one man tries to figure out his love life.

Summary: Isaac is a divorced New Yorker attempting to stop his ex-wife, Jill, from publishing a book about their failed marriage, and dating a high schooler, Tracy. He isn't feeling very satisfied in his relationship with Tracy, mostly because she is seventeen and he is unsure whether anything real can come of it. Instead his friend's mistress, Mary, catches his eye, and he begins hanging out with her all the while falling for her as well.

Acting: Woody Allen stars as Isaac, the man who is caught in between this on. If you enjoy most of the other Allen characters that he's portrayed in other movies then you're bound to enjoy this as well. It isn't too different from what he usually portrays, but he does it well, and makes his character very funny. Diane Keaton is Mary, and somehow even Mary gets the viewer to understanding why all these men may be drawn to her. She isn't near as quirky as Annie was, but she brings more of nerd side to her character. She seems so lost, and you are asking the whole time why she is settling for what she is if she thinks that she is such a great cast? Michael Murphy is Yale, the man who is having the affair with Mary. Mariel Hemingway portrays Tracy, and becomes one of the more interesting characters of the movie. She balances the youth of the character well with some of her deeper revelations that seem to even leave her older boyfriend, Isaac, baffled. Meryl Streep is also in the movie as Jill, but she isn't in the movie too much, so if you're a Streep fan don't just watch it for her.

Filming: Allen works the magic that he is good at in this movie. He can put you in any city anywhere in the world, and find every romantic aspect about it to make you want to be in that moment, even if the guy has the worst relationship case ever going on. The shots of Manhattan give you landmarks you'll want to see. There is a shot of the city lit up at night as Isaac and Tracy take a horse carriage ride, and a scene of Mary and Isaac at dawn at the bridge that make for memorable moments. Sadly, the horse carriage ride though thing is about to be a thing of the past in New York, so the movie will soon has a historic moment in it. Something else you will notice is that the movie is filmed in black and white, and lots of classic music is being played. It makes you feel you are watching a movie that tries to capture all the classic essence about Manhattan.

Plot: The plot is mysterious in the way it builds the atmosphere of the city and shows the relationship crisis that Isaac is still going through even later in life when he probably expected to still be married. A good observation is that Tracy might be the only on who knows what she wants in a group of adults who seem to be very confused. Along with the pondering on romance though Allen weaves in some of his bigger picture thoughts on the universe and faith that he has done in other movies as well. The aspect that is likable about Allen's films is that no matter what age you are or become there is something for everyone in his movies that will always make it a movie you can watch and enjoy. It doesn't just feature lessons you learn when you're old or young, but ones that just show people always struggling with life no matter their age.

So far the liking Woody Allen movies streak continues on for me. I like the style and the simplicity. The black and white, the scenery, and the story make this a movie set apart from his others, and one of my favorites. It's art without having to over do it. It also provides many humorous moments, and good lines to remember after it's long gone.

Rating 8.5 of 10.

Manhattan (1979) on IMDb

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