Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)… “I’d fix Ted up with Helen Dubin, but they’d probably get into an argument over penis envy; the poor guy suffers from it so.”

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Manhattan-Murder-Mystery

My rating: 7

IMDB rating: 7.4

IMDB link: Manhattan Murder Mystery

Dearest reader,

Being a huge Woody Allen fan, it kills me to find one of his films that I do not want to give 10 out of 10. Not that this is not a good film, it is just that it is my least favourite film of my favourite director…

Every time Woody Allen and Diane Keaton star in a film where they are lovers or in some way involved (I am now specifically referring to Annie Hall, Manhattan and this film, in chronological order) it feels as if Woody Allen is exploring the different ways the original relationship between Alvy and Annie (in Annie Hall) could have taken. Allen is therefore constantly referring to himself and his previous films; his whole oeuvre (or his first “Manhattan cycle”) seem to be an intertext.

-I haven’t done any research on this, but it would be interesting to see in which ways these films are connected-

As always, this film is about the city. It is about New York, and the way it has a complex love-hate relationship with its inhabitants. More than that, this film is based on the classic murder-mystery narrative.

If you ever read a Nancy Drew, or just watched a Scooby Doo you will recognise the characteristics; the murder takes place, something suggests foul play, the clumsy protagonists investigates, nothing is as it seems and just when they are ready to give up they solve the mystery and apprehend the villains.

The film is filled with Allen’s customary wit and cynicism. Diane, on the other hand, displays her usual charm and together the form a perfect yin and yang. Their relationship is simple in some ways and complicated in other- the perfect combination!

There is one particular scene which shows so much artistic genius that I just have to mention it. Hitchcock and Sirk is known for their extraordinary work with mirrors. In this film, Allen pays homage to that by adding a scene (the one where Larry confronts the “killer”) in the theater that uses multiple mirrors and different lightning- a perfect scene!

Want to read more on Manhattan Murder Mystery? Try these…

Review: Manhattan Murder Mystery

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) Woody Allen.

Manhattan Murder Mystery.

Manhattan Murder Mystery.

Manhattan (1979)… “I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics”

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Manhattan

My rating: 8

IMDB rating: 8

IMDB link: Manhattan

Dearest reader,

Make no mistake- I love Woody Allen! I believe him to be one of the greatest directors of our time. Furthermore, looking at the way that he revolutionised not only comedy, but the cinematographical representation of the city, his impact on film will still be felt for a while to come.

As the poster shows, the movie contains one of the most iconic images in cinema. Manhattan is shown through Allen’s dorky, in this case black and white, lenses. His love for the Big Apple is more apparent than ever!

Allen explores not only the romance of the lead characters, but also the romance of the city. This romanticising of New York City is emphasised by Allen’s decision to film the movie entirely in black and white. The use of lighting, together with the black and white leaves the film with a romantic glow, which causes the viewer to see New York exactly as Allen does.

Besides the cinematography, the movie contains Allen’s usual blend of romance and comedy. Pairing, again, with the enigmatic Diane Keaton and young Meryl Streep, Allen plays the divorced and out-of-work television writer Isaac. Woody Allen has been criticised time and again for his narcissistic, cynic male leads. Although Isaac reminds one a lot of Alvy from Annie Hall, there is still a certain kind of romanticism to Manhattan that Annie Hall lacks.

Allen’s later films Midnight in ParisTo Rome with Love and even Vicky, Cristina Barcelona are as much odes to cities that Allen has fallen in love with as Manhattan or New York City was his first big love.

What really makes Allen’s earlier films unique is the evolution of Allen’s own personal style of comedy that can so clearly be mapped and that has become so iconic. It is not only his very dry sense of humour, or his almost existentialistic view on life that separates him from the rest, it is the combination of all these elements together with the detailed feminine roles that he writes and his separation from really obvious humour (that has become so popular nowadays).

This is most definitely my favourite Woody Allen film. Although I have not seen all of them, I believe that this film is such a visual and comedic treat that everyone will be able to take something beautiful from this movie.

Want to read more on Manhattan? Try these…

Manhattan (1979) Woody Allen.

Review: Manhattan (1979).

Movie Review: Manhattan (1979).

Greatest Directors: Woody Allen; Part 7: Manhattan (1979).

Annie Hall (1977)… “Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat… college.”

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Annie Hall

My rating: 10

IMDB rating: 8.2

IMDB link: Annie Hall

Dearest reader,

Alvy Singer: [addressing the camera] There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.

 I am starting and ending this post with quotes from the film, because I wish that I could memorise every single thing that is said in this film seeing that it is so honest and endearing that it speaks to both the neurotic and romantic inside of you.

You know how you read about a film again and again, and you just convince yourself that it simply cannot be as good as they make it out to be? Well, this film is nothing like that! I have been a Woody Allen fan from the first time that I saw Midnight in Paris. I fell in love with the way he not only sees the world, but with the intellectuality he uses to approach subjects such as love.

Then with his films To Rome With Love and Fading Gigolo I saw more of the original Woody Allen wit and I was mesmerised! Gathering up all my courage, I set out to watch Woody Allen’s most famous film and it made my year!

Relationships are hard, this Allen underlines again and again, and when you find that special somebody you have to hold on, right? What if you can’t? My favourite modern English writer, Elizabet Gilbert, says (describing soulmates): “A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.” 

That, for me, is the case with Alvy and Annie. They are a perfect fit; Alvy opens Annie up intellectually, while Annie works on Alvy’s narcissism. The un-chronological timeline supports this idea that although you can see these two people are a good match, you know that on some level they are disconnected- the one always expecting more than the other one is willing to give.

I think that it is often true, and the film also speaks about this, that on a subconscious level we believe that our significant other should either make our faults disappear or overshadow them with their own good attributes. In reality, a relationship highlights our bad qualities, just as Alvy gets more neurotic and Annie gets more ditsy.

While giving the account of this (failed?) relationship, the camera often turns to Woody Allen where he addresses the audience directly. He pleads with them to understand, to get them on his ‘side’. Still, and that is how brilliantly the movie is made, you know the pleading is useless. You know he only has himself to blame and although the story is told from his perspective, he gives a very objective overview of the relationship.

I can understand why some people do not like this film. It speaks to a lot of the really personal things one experiences in a relationship and how you usually want a film like that to end is with a massive declaration of love, but that is not life. Most probably one will agree to stay friends and not see one another for years thereafter, but their impact will remain bigger than any of those that comes before or after them.

Alvy Singer: I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.

Want to read more on Annie Hall? Try these…

Roger Ebert: Annie Hall

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Annie Hall.

Annie Hall ★★★★.

Annie Hall (1977).