thatcow

There's a million stories in the naked city

Manhattan has a great opening, probably the best of Woody Allen's films. Beautiful black and white images of, well, the island of the title, with intermixed classical and jazz music and Allen speaking the thoughts of an author writing the opening lights of a novel. And then fireworks over the city as the music reaches a crescendo.

The whole movie is in black and white, and the shots are very carefully chosen, all standing as works of art without even considering the story.

The story itself revolves around Isaac, a 42 year old television writer and aspiring novelist (Allen), his 17 year old girlfriend (a very young Mariel Hemmingway), Isaac's ex-wife, his married friends, and the woman that threatens that marriage as well as Isaac's current relationship (Diane Keaton). The themes of relationships, anxiety, infidelity, and dubious situations are nothing really new for Allen.

It's been said that Manhattan itself is like a character in this movie. Is that true? There are a lot of locations here, a veritable tour of the sites, but a character? I'd like to see an argument, as I can see location influencing the action, but fail to see where these events could only have occurred in one place. Perhaps there's something more subtle involved. I'd like to be educated, but it wouldn't surprise me if people are taking the metaphor a little too far.

Allen tips his hat late in the movie, talking into a tape recorder, letting us know that really, these characters are generating this drama in their lives because they don't want to face the real questions of life.

I think the movie works, but I realize that it'll be borderline for some people. We have the ending that isn't so much about resolution, but the completion that comes from having gone full circle. This is about the characters much more than the plot. If you don't like Woody Allen, you'll think this is a well shot Woody Allen film. If you're open to what he has to say, there's a lot to listen to here.

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