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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful city + absurd people = a kind of comedy
Chekhov always insisted that his plays were comedies, but clearly they are almost sui generis -- as painful (or more) as they are funny. Their characters' self-absorption and social cluelessness resemble to some extent those of Woody Allen's modern New Yorkers. Needy, tending towards living in illusions, narcissistic, highly verbal, intellectually pretentious -- the...
Published 3 months ago by Stanley Crowe

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good film - deplorable sound!!
The film is great but the viewing experience of this DVD was very disappointing.

All through the film the sound kept going up and down, particularly in the final scene, when it was difficult to catch the dialogue even at maximum volume! Fiddling with the remote control rather detracted from the experience.

The potentially marvellous Gershwin...
Published 16 months ago by onebee2


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful city + absurd people = a kind of comedy, 4 Sep 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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Chekhov always insisted that his plays were comedies, but clearly they are almost sui generis -- as painful (or more) as they are funny. Their characters' self-absorption and social cluelessness resemble to some extent those of Woody Allen's modern New Yorkers. Needy, tending towards living in illusions, narcissistic, highly verbal, intellectually pretentious -- the parallels are striking, and if I'm right, "Manhattan" (1979) is a perfect example of Allen's neo-Chekhovism. It's often referred to as Allen's best movie, and though I haven't seen enough to know whether that's the case or not, it certainly is striking. First of all, it's visually striking, shot in black-and-white by Gordon Willis, to capture a kind of somber beauty of both the vistas and the streets and buildings of the city. Not since "High Noon," maybe, has there been a B&W movie that looked so good. And along with the visual beauty goes music by Gershwin that calls up suggestions of a rich cultural life, sometimes somber too, but also substantive and satisfying. These visual and musical elements stand in an ironic relationship to what else is on the soundtrack -- the whiny natter of narcissism, from people whom culture, education , and reasonable economic security have failed to make happy -- people who seem incapable of being conscious of anything but their their own lack of satisfaction and all of whose energies seem taken up with kvetching about how unsatisfied they are. The source of their dissatisfaction is . . . other people. They can't get other people to arrange their lives and feelings to fit in with their needs, and so relationships come across as shallow and disposable, things that can be thrown away and perhaps or perhaps not might be taken up again up again. The contrast with the other great New York movie of the 1970's -- "The Godfather" -- couldn't be clearer. "Manhattan" is the anti-Godfather, with no strong family ties, no intensity that leads to decisive outer-directed action, and none of the tragic emotions of intense desire and revenge arising from historically-grounded circumstances. Allen's urban dwellers seem rootless and aimless, and all their talk of love and sexual competence is belied by a kind of anomie that seems adolescent ("I loved her first!" says Yale [Michael Murphy] to Isaac [Woody Allen] in an argument prompted by Mary [Diane Keaton] deciding that she really wants to go back to adulterous Yale rather than staying with twice-divorced Isaac). The exchange gives you an idea of where the humor in the movie is -- the dialogue is funny -- but the lives are sorry: coupling, uncoupling, re-coupling, complaining.

Allen, of course, knows all this -- he knows, and even his character Isaac knows -- that Isaac, aged 42, has no business sleeping with a seventeen-year-old, Tracy [Mariel Hemingway], one of whose functions in the movie is to seem no less mature or immature than the supposedly adult characters. Reviewers who dislike the movie because they're grossed-out by that relationship, with its age disparity, are missing the point (perhaps blinded by Allen's real-life scuzzy behaviour with his teenaged step-daughter a few years later). There is no way in which the movie glamorizes this relationship. Isaac knows it should end, and he ends it when a more age-appropriate object appears, and so it's doubly pathetic to see him at the end of the movie, after lecturing his philandering friend on personal integrity, try to reignite his relationship with Tracy because Mary has gone back to Yale and he doesn't know what to do with himself.

Isaac likes to tell himself that love and sex are all that stand between him and existential emptiness, but the talk itself is empty. There's no sense in which Isaac has taken seriously on board profound reflections about life and its meaning. When his immediate needs aren't being satisfied, he cries "meaninglessness" and feels sorry for himself. He does so fluently and with wit -- but empty lives are empty lives, and narcissism is narcissism. Allen's characters need to get out more -- do they even see what Gordon Willis's camera lets us see? It's a good joke that Isaac's ex-wife, played by Meryl Streep, now a lesbian, is writing a tell-all book about the end of their marriage and her discovery of her real self, but she is as much a narcissist as the others. The best that can be said for Isaac is that he's nice to his child -- but the child isn't yet old enough to see that his dad is about as mature as he is . . .

It's good to be reminded that good movies and plots can be made about unlikeable characters -- that's as true of the Godfather movies as it is of, say, "Fawlty Towers." "Manhattan" isn't all that far from Beckett either -- his world is more populated but no less anxious.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allen's Masterpiece, 11 April 2007
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Although this is not Woody Allens funniest film, it is his best and its one of the best films ever made. It is funny though, but not in the same way as his 'early funny' ones!

Woody Allen's brilliant writing is there right from the start of the film as we listen to Issac's (Woodys character) opening monologue rewritten over and over, to a selection of stunning images of New York.

The film is in black and white and all the better for it. Somehow the cinematographer Gordon Willis has captured everything that is beautiful about New York in this film. The use of music is also key to this film. Its nearly all George Gershwin and the combination has never been matched in the history of cinema.

The plot is tangled web of Issacs relationships with women, and as you'd expect with Woody Allen its never quite right. The leading women in the film, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep (who is vicious) and Mariel Hemingway are all superb. In the end Issac has to make a decision over who he really wants to be with and this leads to two great scenes which unless you were born with your heart removed will leave you choked.

This is a truly great film in all respects and is an essential addition to any film fans collection. Sadly there are no extras with the DVD, but it is widescreen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I never tire of this film, 27 Oct 2011
By 
D. S. Sample (Turnipshire England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I watched this film probably once every two/three years since I don't know when . I love how it's filmed in monochrome & the style of how it's filmed , some frames would make great photographs , the subtle humour & of course the music , its trademark Woody Allen , some people hate his films but to me he has always been my favorite director & actor . There must be many directors who would love to add this great film to their portfolio . Woody has been quoted that he never watches a film after it's been produced he just moves on to his next project ,but he should be especially proud of this one .
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MANHATTAN is "THE ONLY TRULY GREAT FILM OF THE 70s" -, 1 April 2005
By 
Jeff Markham (Walton-on-Thames, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
- according to American film critic ANDREW SARRIS. Granted, this is high praise indeed! But once you surrender swiftly to WOODY ALLEN's most achingly romantic, poignant film, listen to the lush and beautiful GEORGE GERSHWIN music score, marvel at GORDON WILLIS' shimmering monochrome photography of the Big Apple at its most seductive, and I guarantee you will find it very hard to disagree with Sarris' famous comment.
Add in to the mix DIANE KEATON and MARIEL HEMINGWAY at their (respectively) funniest and most youthfully heart-warming, some of the sharpest, most hilarious ALLEN dialogue on celluloid ("he had...the sexual prowess of a coiled jungle cat"!!), and, quite frankly film fans, you simply MUST have this wonderful film in your collection.
Finally, before I really do over-eulogise over WOODY's masterpiece (a minority view but one I've held for 25 years) it is also worth noting that ALLEN's portrait of middle-class New York life remains unsurpassed. For those of you fortunate enough to have visited this great city, you will instantly recognise both the well known landmarks and, and quite probably, even some of the lesser known but distinctly recognisable MANHATTAN nightclubs, cafes and other locations that give the Big Apple its lasting charm and character.
Watch this film and cherish it's swooning romanticism and sharp analysis of middle class intellectual life; you will be delighted and want to watch it every time you see or read anything about NYC again...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good film - deplorable sound!!, 16 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
The film is great but the viewing experience of this DVD was very disappointing.

All through the film the sound kept going up and down, particularly in the final scene, when it was difficult to catch the dialogue even at maximum volume! Fiddling with the remote control rather detracted from the experience.

The potentially marvellous Gershwin soundtrack, too, was let down by the quality of this recording, while the picture resolution is so poor that it made me wonder if I had acquired a pirated version. Hard to believe that this film was only made in 1979.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Allen's best film., 13 Dec 2014
By 
Mr. G. Robinson "garyrobinson15" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
For me Manhattan is Woody Allen’s best film, even outshining the splendid Annie Hall.

The incredibly atmospheric opening sequence, shot in glorious Black and White by British Cinematographer Gordon Willis, overlaid with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is Allen’s unapologetic love letter to New York. The accompanying narration (by Allen) sounding out opening lines for his new book give us the first indication of his character. He’s a romantic 40 something with high moral ideals that he is not always able to put into practice.

Allen plays a TV writer Isaac Davis who is dating a woman half his age, his growing insecurities about the big age difference, his unsatisfied aspirations to become a “real” writer, and his Lesbian ex-wife’s imminent kiss and tell biography are magnified when he foolishly starts a new relationship with his best friends mistress Mary. Although arrogant and pretentious at first, she mellows and eventually relaxes in Isaac’s company and soon after embark on an emotional adventure that changes them both for ever.

This American Aga Saga is awash of upper middle class New York Sophisticates making their lives far more problematic than is strictly necessary. Angst ridden, full of anxiety and often socially awkward our characters may be, but they are still none the less as fragile as anyone else might be when looking for happiness and love.

With plenty of trade mark Allen “one liners”, a script as witty as anything by Wilde, and a fantastic cast of main characters, Manhattan is a joy from that extraordinary start to the unexpected but fitting end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Urban Anthem, 20 Aug 2014
By 
Hamish Adam - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
An unattractive middle-aged writer who is going out with a sixteen year old girl makes a bad career move, dumps the teenager, runs off with his best friend's mistress who promptly dumps him forcing the writer to crawl back to the sixteen year old.

This less than magnificent plot conceals one of the most joyous anthems ever made to a city and its people. In Allen's hands, this banal plot is simply a route map from one fascinating Manhattan locale to another. Gordon Willis' fabulous cinematography combined with George Gershwin's music carries the film.

If the script and cast were all awful (which they aren't) the film could be imagined as the greatest documentary ever made. For it is the very ghastliness of the characters and their lives that leads us away from character toward the physical world they inhabit.

As in all of Allen's films, in spite of the ugly ensemble, there is always something touching about the filmmaker's honest and fearless confrontation of the human truth that people make terrible messes of their lives.

The ultimate triumph of the film is the vastness of the Manhattan landscape that, like some man made nature, seems to overcome their messes, ultimately redeeming their small transgressions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars oh if only I could do it too, 23 Mar 2010
By 
This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
wonderfully written ...sumptuously shot in black and white ..camera shots and angles any directer would love to have been the first to use ... first class witty and humorous dialogue.. acting that you don't see very often from all of the cast and to top it all off Gershwin orchestrated beautifully in the back ground
what more could you ask for ?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Woody pokes fun at the NY middle classes, 9 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Manhattan is first of all an unashamed tribute to the city of New York. The first five minutes both in words and images leave in no doubt about this.

It is an amusing look at the foibles on the white intellectual middle class of the city. Through Allen's eyes we see their obsessions, petty lies and betrayals.

Woody gives himself the best lines but Diane Keaton is excellent as the desperately attractive but desperately annoying Mary. I'll be honest and say that, given subsequent events in his personal life, seeing Woody's character concluding that a 17 year old high school student may be the love of his life made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Maybe I'm just an old fuddy duddy!

It has hard to believe that Allen disliked it so much that he begged that it wouldn't be released!

Beautifully filmed in black and white and with a magnificent soundtrack this an enjoyable, amusing look at Seventies America.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Woody Allen, 27 Oct 2014
This review is from: Manhattan [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Everything about this film is sublime, one of Woody Allen's best in my humble opinion. The soundtrack of Gershwin compositions is superbly crafted into each scene. The storyline is one of relationships, as with many of Allen's films, eternal triangles and the universal conflict between love and lust. I really thought that Mariel Hemingway (Tracy) was excellent and thoroughly deserved her Oscar nomination. Earlier reviews have gone into more detail of the storyline, so I will just say that I think the ending from where Isaac (Allen) while repeating into a recording machine reasons why life is worth living suddenly says "Tracy's face", to the end of the movie where Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" comes in, is worth seeing over & over again. It's a film you have to see many times to fully appreciate its brilliance.
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Manhattan [DVD] [1979]
Manhattan [DVD] [1979] by Woody Allen (DVD - 2000)
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