Thursday, January 22, 2015

Movie Review: "Manhattan" (1979)

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Director: Woody Allen
Year: 1979
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Isaac (Woody Allen) is a neurotic 42-year old writer living in New York and is struggling to sort out his love life. He is dating a 17-year old girl named Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), but wants to give her up when he starts to fall for his best friend's mistress, Mary (Diane Keaton).

Oh, Woody Allen. Will you ever not be so transparent, even when speaking about your movies from the past?

The entire beginning premise of this film is creepy to say the least. The main character, who is, of course, played by Allen himself, is a 42-year old divorcee who has a casual sexual relationship with a 17-year old girl. Art imitating life or vice versa? When and if you can get over this fact long enough to stomach their "relationship" over the course of the rest of the movie, he doesn't exactly treat her well, either. He never lets her stay over at his house for the night and constantly reminds her that their entire thing together is just a fling. It plays out on screen as the twisted mid-life crisis fantasy of a middle aged man clinging to his youth by dating a younger woman with no strings attached. He is ready to push her away quickly enough when he finds the first real woman to come along and challenge him intellectually and to stand up to his bullshit. This woman has interests closer to his, but she just so happens to be the former mistress of his best friend. As a whole, the film is basically a look at four clusterfucked relationships of two men in Manhattan. The rest of the movie is filled up with the typical Woody Allen neuroses in the form of odd hand gestures that never seem to stop, "artistic" wit and psuedo-intellectual ramblings for long stretches of time, and bickering dialogue and the occasional one-line zinger from Allen. Diane Keaton plays the same character she has played for centuries, and that is the uber-liberal, outspoken oddball type. Though Mariel Hemingway got an Oscar nomination for her role as Tracy, we can't say it was an exceptional part, not that her acting was bad, it just didn't stand out in anyway.

Maybe we lack the "New York experience," but either way, nothing in this movie stands out as being anything more than the same crap Allen has shoveled at the masses for decades, only this time, much more ironic, considering it's supposed to be a romance that almost identically mirrors his own life. Maybe when this film came out 35 years ago, it was more pertinent. Maybe now, the tellings of history have clouded our judgment, but we think not. Regardless of whether you are on the anti-Woody Allen train or not, unfortunately, "Manhattan" has not stood up to the test of time, at least not to us.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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