Monday, 12 July 2010

Manhattan [1979]


Manhattan was Woody Allen’s ode to the romance, the neurosis and the vibrancy of his beloved New York city, things that have turned the metropolis into a myth of sorts among artists and urban intellectuals, and ranks among his most definitive films. The movie stars Allen as a divorced stand-up comedian who is fed up with his brainless TV appearances, and hopes to make it as a writer with far more profundity than his day job demands. He is living with a teenage girl, but finds himself getting attracted to a fellow Manhattan resident (the terrific Diane Keaton) whose cerebral exterior masks a confused interior. Though touted as a romantic comedy, the movie is filled with the kind of subtle nihilism, wry cynicism and self-deprecating humour that is quintessential Allen and far removed from the conventions popularly associated with the genre. Yet, deep within, the film is also filled with nostalgia and melancholy, marvelously captured by the quotable dialogues, lilting soundtrack, and delightful black-and-white photography – the sensuous vignettes of the city’s landmarks are breathtaking. Released just two years after his masterly Annie Hall, this complex, existential seriocomic examination of intellectual and personal dissatisfaction and artistic ennui, typified by the memorable set of New Yorkers, continues to enthrall viewers and remains, along with the former, a seminal film of the decade.









Director: Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy/Existential Comedy/Urban Comedy/Romance
Language: English
Country: US

11 comments:

Norma Desmond said...

I love this movie. I think Woody Allen is typically thought of as a writer first and foremost, but Manhattan is most definitely a director's movie and proves that he should be thought of in the same terms as Scorsese, Coppola, and other celebrated contemporary directors.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks for sharing your love for this film. Well, I'd say I'd have to go with the viewpoint that, the best aspects of Woody Allen that in movies like Annie Hall & Manhattan lie in his scripts. But then, that certainly do not reduce his capability as a director. He certainly ranks alongside Scorsese & Coppola as one of the great American auteurs.

neetu said...

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Shubhajit said...

Thanks Neetu. I'm sure you'll love it too.

John said...

One of Allen's best and a love song to NYC, at least to Allen's romantic Upper West Side/Upper East Side version of NYC. The photography is exquisite. I happen to like B&W film a lot, it is more abtract to start with, and lighting wise you can practically paint with it creating multiple moods and images in shadow and light. Another fine review Shubhajit!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot John. Yeah, the B/W photography has a transformative effect on the viewers, and it really grows onto you right from the lovely vignettes of NYC that the film starts with. And since I'm already aware, from your various blog posts, of the kind of love that you too have for the city, I sure can appreciate how much the movie means to you.

Sam Juliano said...

Aye, Shubhajit, it's one on a short list of quintessential Manhattan films, and it's certainly it's director's homage to his beloved city, and perhaps his greatest work, in a close call with ANNIE HALL. Gorwon Willis' widescreen black and white cinematography is a model of its kind, and the screenplay shows the master at the top of his game. Yes indeed, there is a marked melancholy and nostalgic essence here, and a wistfulness sinular in his work. Marvelous, astute essay here!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to decide which of the two among Annie Hall & Manhattan I liked more. The former was a bit more cerebral & witty, while the latter made that up through a dose of melancholy. The B/W photography bowled me over, and like the hallmark of any great movie, the script was marvelous.

Dan said...

Wonderful critique of the film's defining attributes. For me, although it isn't my favourite Woody Allen film, it is his most visually beautiful. I love his use of black and white in the film. Has New York ever looked as good?

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Dan. Yeah, this is one of those definitive New York movies.

Anonymous said...

This is really an insightful review. This movie was wonderful. This is extremely informing.
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