Manhattan [DVD] 
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Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) is a TV writer, frustrated in both career and his lovelife. An on-off affair with teenage drama student Tracy (Mariel Hemingway) is blighted by his anxiety about their age difference, whilst his attraction to the pretentious Mary (Diane Keaton) is complicated by the fact that she is already having an affair with his married friend Yale (Michael Murphy). Meanwhile, his lesbian ex-wife (Meryl Streep) prepares to dish the dirt about their marriage in a forthcoming book. Often cited as Allen's masterpiece, 'Manhattan' features a George Gershwin soundtrack.
Manhattan, Woody Allen's follow-up to Oscar-winning Annie Hall, is a film of many distinctions: its glorious all-Gershwin score, its breathtakingly elegant black-and-white, widescreen cinematography by Gordon Willis (best-known for shooting the Godfather movies); its deeply shaded performances; its witty screenplay that marked a new level in Allen's artistic maturity; and its catalogue of Things that Make Life Worth Living. Allen's "Rhapsody in Gray" concerns, as his own character puts it, "people in Manhattan who are constantly creating these real, unnecessary, neurotic problems for themselves, because it keeps them from dealing with more insoluble, terrifying problems about the universe". It's a romantic comedy about infidelity and betrayal, the rules of love and friendship, young girls (a radiant and sweet Mariel Hemingway) and older men (Allen), innocence, and sophistication. (a favourite phrase is used to describe a piece of sculpture at the Guggenheim: "It has a marvellous kind of negative capability".) The film's themes can be summed up in two key lines: "I can't believe you met somebody you like better than me", and "It's very important to have some kind of personal integrity". OK, so they may not sound like such sparkling snatches of brilliant dialogue, but Manhattan puts those ideas across with such emotion that you feel an ache in your heart. --Jim Emerson
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Top Customer Reviews
It’s the late seventies. Isaac (Woody Allen), a middle-aged television writer based in Manhattan, is having a fling with a seventeen year old girl. When he falls for his married friend’s girlfriend (Diane Keaton), because opposites attract, Isaac’s life becomes even more neurotic.
Allen and Marshall Brickman’s script snaps with terrific one-liners shared between the cast, yet it is the pulling and pushing of relationships that makes Manhattan a triumph. This is Allen at his comedic best. Manhattan should be the target romantic comedies aim to surpass. Two nice Woody Allen companion pieces to this film are Annie Hall (1977) or Midnight in Paris (2011), both funny, character driven and sentimentalises the cities they are set in. The cherry on this delicious cake is Gordon Willis’s cinematography, which illuminates every inch of New York in a glowing black and white, creating romance in people, parks, shops, streets and even traffic.
I thoroughly enjoyed Manhattan and would recommend it for that magical time between Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening.
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.
It is now also his third highest grossing film, (126m $), in his magnificent career, behind the likes of Annie Hall (135m$) and Midnight in Paris which grossed 151m$.
The film is famous for its ‘Allenisms’ - his liking for films about relationships, his liking of black & white cinematography and his quick fire wit, though this is nowhere near his wittiest flick. It is memorable for its shots of Manhattan and the music of Gershwin. Of course, it’s ironic in that it mirrors his future life and relationship with a teenage girl. In real life it led to marriage and they are still together to this day.
I must say that I find the film utterly delightful; it has a crazy little storyline about complicated relationships within a social circle. Woody is fantastic as the oddball friend who's never stops talking! The script and wit are brilliant and `classic' is the obvious adjective to use for this film?
It looks great in black & white and at 96 minutes was perfectly pitched.I loved it.
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...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Isaac (Woody Allen): “I got a kid, he’s being raised by two women at the moment”.
Mary (Diane Keaton): “Oh, y’know, I mean I think that works. Read more
A perfect - and fun - rendition of modern society, its instability and eternal childhood. An hymn to the freedom of New York life...with a sour touchPublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Manhatten unfortunately reminds me of "Hannah & her Sisters": Much confusion, much quick nonsense talking. Nothing moving. Is it Annie Hall: 1,5 or 2?Published 7 months ago by Peter Thomsen