Sunday, 14 December 2008

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)

Now, I have watched this before and, on the first watch I thought a great film. Now, a second time around I realised that there are not so many jokes as there are in 'Annie Hall' - but this is not so much a bad thing. It has to be taken that little bit more seriously.

Everyone is completely flawed - Yale - the cheating husband, Isaac - the paedo-ish guy, Mary - the indecisive broad. Even Tracy is a little naive. Throwing away London for this silly man who, even she should know, is too old for her.

The Gershwin score is awesome - the big band, semi-marching band mixed with the lovely jazz (probably not Gershwin that one...). The great shots - like this mix of conversations with beautiful NYC images. Obviously, the whole section in the planetarium place simply looks stunning. Silhouettes and small highlights - dare I mention Carvaggio or Helmut Newton ...

The ambiguous ending ... clearly Mary is gone, but does Mary and Yale work out? Did Yale split with the wife? Does Tracy stay ... clearly she shouldn't and I feel that little glance from Woody at the end is trying to say how he is, ultimately, thinking of himself. Take away all the glamour and beauty of NYC, ultimately, he is on his own and alien to the emotions of others - to the point that he is willing to, effectively, destroy someone else's life purely to make his own loneliness not in vain. Whereas poor Mary - as cerebral as she was - maybe she was simply looking for love and followed her heart more so than her NYC head ... then again, she was from Philadelphia. With this in mind, this interesting take on a love story ... you cannot help but give ol' Woody Allen his credit. I mean, screw the old mans life now. Maybe he did get it on with his adopted child or something ... but back in '79, he made a damn good film and it was relevant and interesting so ... there you go!

On a side note ... Empire Magazine and the 'Saw' Franchise
So, I like Kim Newman. But I hate Empire magazine. It is so slim and merely plays on whatever sells in the film world ... rather than whatever people want to know and what is important and what people care about. Does it try to educate .. no. Does it try to inform ... only on the films which pay for the coverage. Anyway, my guilty pleasure on cinema is the 'Saw' franchise. I am not going to lie - I love the films, but I am well aware of how they are kinda of pointlessly violent. My personal link was when I first saw 'Saw' I was so scared I thought to myself that maybe the feeling I got was the closest I would get to feeling the same as people generations before me got when they watched 'The Exorcist'. I'm not saying its better than it, but as a 24year old there is a certain element of 'shock' which I don't get anymore. The barrier has been lowered to a certain extent and so horror is a difficult genre to do - don't get me wrong, the frights and scares are one thing, but gore and seeing things that I've never seen before ... 'Saw' is the first horror film to have done that. Maybe I am giving it too much credit but ... it is what it is and I like it alot.

Anyhoo, the reviews are late and I've already seen 'Saw V' prior to reading the reviews and the two magazines I happened to buy this month - 'Sight and Sound' and 'Empire' obviously reviewed the film. Both by Kim Newman.

Interestingly enough the review in 'Sight and Sound' seemed to give it alot more credit than I thought it deserved - mentioning Edgar Allen Poe references and the 'strength- beyond the sheer fiendish ingenuity - is Tobin Bell as Jigsaw' . Though it was clearly ambiguous as to what KM actually felt himself, overall it seemed to be a solid review of not-as-good-as-it-could-be sequel to a decent horror franchise. Though KM made his view clear in Empire. A short review - finally giving it 'somewhat ho-hum franchise extension' and a nod to a tv spin-off of 'celebrity saw' or something. summarising with a two-star. The simple attitude obviously pandered to the masses and thats my problem - is Empire just keeping the medium of film simple? i think so. This will no doubt come up in the future so I shall holdback until I have more leverage. It n't be long before 'Star Wars' or 'Lord of the Rings' is on the cover...


  1. Woo hoo, finally something to get my teeth into.

    Firstly Woody Allen. Why does anyone love him? Let's break that down.

    In terms of Manhattan I can't understand what Tracey sees in him and why she gets so upset when he dumps her. I don't think the start of their relationship is ever explained and I'm pretty sure Woody himself expresses some surprise as to why she would be with him. It's self deprecating which should be funny but then that's kinda weird because he cast her opposite him. I'm just saying the level of love is ununderstandable.

    I don't understand why people (actors & viewers alike) are still so reverential about his canon and working with him. He makes a shitload of films and a load of shit films (b'dom cuch). I've seen Match Point (really bad), Melinda & Melinda (boring), Manhattan (unfunny) and Annie Hall (good, but no Airplane!). Obviously I like Vicky Cristina Barcelona but that ain't because of the Woody, or maybe it is. No, it is a good film with an exciting plot in a beautiful city and interesting characters.

    Maybe I should see more.

    Anyway, in this particular film the black and white shot of the bridge is great, the score is great, Diane Keaton is great. The scene in the cafe with the hand is nasty and with hindsight, poorly judged.

  2. Woody Allen makes films cheaply and attracts big stars - thats why studios like him, but everyone else. Well, his whole style is quite unique in american cinema - especially mainstream american cinema. 'Annie Hall' is in no way trying to be non-stop joke-a-thon Airplane! but is trying to show, in a humourous way, the relaxed 'real' attitude of a man - a male Bridget Jones if you will. In my opinion, thats what makes Woody Allen films great - he has this, sometimes brutally honest, ideas about men, art, [I assume] being middle-aged and relationships that is accessible - yet intelligent - and, in some cases, relatable. Of course, there is always that 'Woody-Allen' problem of his personal life, but ignoring that, he makes great films. But, lets be honest, if you don't like 'Match Point' and compare 'Annie Hall' with 'Airplane' then, yeah, you're going to have difficulty liking the mans canon.

  3. Please tell me one good thing about Match Point!

    Apart from Scarlett Johansson!

    That's two good things...


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