Sunday, November 04, 2012

Manhattan, 33 years later

Looking for a movie on Netflix Streaming with a running time that would result in the movie ending before SNL began, I was pleased to discover that Woody Allen's "Manhattan" has been added to the roster.

Watching it again after a very long time - I'm not sure I've seen it since the late '80s - I was surprised at how my reaction to it has changed over the years.  When it was released, I thought it was his best movie, and perhaps even his masterpiece.  Looking at it now, I'd still include it among his best, but not anywhere near the level of "Hannah and Her Sisters" or "Annie Hall."

The look of the film remains spectacular - the cinematography by Gordon Willis is magnificent, and Allen makes the most of the scenery - its almost as if the city is an unnamed character in the story.

It's the humans I had a problem with - not a single one of them seemed real to me.  Allen's character is exactly what you would expect it to be, but Diane Keaton alternates between annoying and exasperating, and Michael Murphy is such a loser that I wanted to smack him in the face by movie's end.  Of the primary cast, the only one who seems like a real person - and acts like a real adult, despite her age - is Mariel Hemingway.  But frankly, the romance between Allen and Hemingway, what with all that occurred in real life since then, struck me as more than a little creepy.  Generally I don't have a problem with age-gap relationships, but something about 42m/17f just seems wrong - even if the 17 year old is more emotionally mature than her elder.

There are a lot of great, even classic moments in the movie, but in the end it adds up to less than the sum of its parts.  Mind you, my judgment is in comparison to other Allen classics, and not movies in general.

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