52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Manhattan

96 min. | dir. Woody Allen | Rated R


Woody Allen (in his Woody Allen persona) plays a 42-year old comedy writer dating an angelic high school girl he temporarily abandons for someone more age-appropriate, the “pithy but degenerate” Mary, played with loquacious ditziness by Diane Keaton. New York, shot in a light-drenched black-and-white, gilded by Gershwin and framed by the Brooklyn Bridge, is a playground where overly educated people swap romantic partners and then talk about it in museums and parks and the front seats of convertibles touring the city. Jokes are laced with references to neuroses and feminist theory and Kierkegaard, and the wonder of it is that such was the stuff of mainstream comedy in 1979. (In a Judd Apatow movie, circa 2009, a joke centers on a person’s resemblance to the dude who tried to kill Bruce Willis in Die Hard.) Though this story carries a whiff of retroactive creepiness, what with Allen’s well-publicized personal life and all, its conclusion remains both complicated and poignant: Sometimes (usually?) the best thing for you is not getting what you want. (At the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach.)


[Published this week in the print edition of The District.]

2 comments:

Condiment said...

My favorite Woody Allen (back in college anyway). "This city is a knockout!"

[cdavidson] said...

"Manhattan" is definitely in the pantheon, though not at the top, for me. Also, this review makes me sound elitist, doesn't it?