Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5/17: Manhattan (1979) (4.5/5)

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Sunday night I watched Woody Allen's Manhattan.
Manhattan opens with different shots of New York City to the tune of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". This had me excited from the first trill of the clarinet, it's my favorite piece of music!

Manhattan tells the story of Isaac, a divorced TV writer who is seeing a girl in high school (played well by a young and gorgeous Mariel Hemingway). He finds out that his friend Yale is having an affair with Mary (Diane Keaton). Isaac is astounded because Yale has a wonderful relationship with his wife, yet he is carrying on this affair. At first he hates Mary, who is very showy in her intelligence, and snoody in her views, calling many great artists like Van Gogh overrated. Nevertheless, he is intrigued, and begins dating her. He also breaks up with Tracy the highscooler, so that she can go to London to study acting. In the end, Isaac and Tracy get back together

Like I said, I was sold on this movie by the fanastic opening and closing sequences, which use most of Gershwin's masterpiece. Here is the opening scene (ignore that this ivdeo screws with the aspect ratio-some people have not respect!):

This was Woody Allen's first foray in to both black and white photography and the widescreen format. Both work very well with this picture (although this could be because most, no all of the movies I watch are black and white). It adds to the artistry of the film. I was especially impressed with the museum scene, arguably Isaac and Mary's first date. The lighting (or lack thereof) is gorgeous in this scene, and I couldn't imagine this being in color.
The people who have posted this on youtube were thinking more about temporal than narrative cuts, but here is the second and more beautiful part of the museum scene:

Surprisingly, this is the least favorite of Allen's films, even though it is considered by critics and hardcore Allen fans to be his best. I think that perhaps this film is so disappointing to him because, as he says in the opening scene, New York is a tough town, and no amount of film in the world could capture it in its entirety.

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