It’s one of our great cinematic shames that we seem congenitally unable to enjoy, or sometimes even sit through, the films of Woody Allen â€” yes, not even "Manhattan," a shiny new print of which opens at Film Forum tomorrow for a week-long run. The prickly, rationalizing Californian in us finds the film a concentrated dose of so many of the things we’ve disliked about New York, even as we years ago packed up and moved here to benefit from closer proximity to those very things. But J. Hoberman‘s article on the film in the Village Voice , in which he argues that "Manhattan" is Allen’s "dream of the movies," both makes us feel better about this stance and ready to try to watch it again:
What’s most authentic about Manhattan is its fantasy. The New York City that Woody so tediously defended in Annie Hall was in crisis. And so he imagined an improved version. More than that, he cast this shining city in the form of those movies that he might have seen as a child in Coney Islandâ€”freeing the visions that he sensed to be locked up in the silver screen. In a way, Manhattan is Allen’s personal Purple Rose of Cairoâ€”the movie in which he successfully projects himself into Hollywood make-believe. It’s his version of an Astaire and Rogers musical, as romantic as Casablanca, as slickly metropolitan as Sweet Smell of Success. It’s also as haunting a celebration of the transitory as a LumiÃ©re actualitÃ©.
In New York, Bilge Ebiri has his own thoughts on the film:
I’ve always believed that it was Woody’s response to 2001: A Space Odyssey:
The scene in the planetarium, and the scene framing Woody next to a
skeleton suggest that it’s a very human and ground-level reply to those
who would seek to find the meaning of life from Olympian heights (or
expensive sci-fi epics). Even the celebrated shots of Manhattan
emerging to "Rhapsody in Blue" evoke the Monolith emerging to "Thus
Boston is very fife-and-drum: small, conservative, lots of students and lawyersâ€”a little more starch in their underwear. Not always a knockout visually. Washington is monolithic. Itâ€™s not a place I much like looking at. I get the sense thereâ€™s no one really living there. New York has great soul. The light in the city is wonderful: canyon upon canyon, changing all day long. And the relativity of the graphics: So much buried in and around buildings, stuffed between two rivers. I love all of that.
+ Defending Manhattan (Village Voice)
+ AFI 100 List Takes â€˜Manhattan.â€™ And Shoves It. (New York)
+ Take five with Gordon Willis (Time Out New York)
+ Letters From Gordon (The Reeler)
+ Woody Allen to begin work on new movie (AP)