Manhattan

1895-1999
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Postby Precious Doll » Wed Jul 18, 2007 3:14 am

I think Dog Day Afternoon has improved with age. I watched it recently and liked it much more the second time.

Other worthwhile Lumet pictures include Equus, 12 Angry Men, Prince of the City and Fail Safe, which is still far more effective then the recent Stephen Frears/George Clooney version.

However his has made an awful amount of crap which far outnumbers his achievements.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Postby Hustler » Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:20 pm

I enjoyed so much (and I don´t feel embarrased to admit that) Dog Day Afternon! This movie hadn´t aged thanks God! Every time I watch it, it provokes me the same sensations. This movie is full of life. In terms of quality I can´t see which are the main objections towards Lumet´s film.

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Postby Damien » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:51 am

Eric wrote:I'm sure it wouldn't be too terribly difficult to come up with a list of 100 horrible movies from the 1950s.

Well it is the decade when Sidney Lumet got unleashed upon the world. :D
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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:35 am

Anyone who's read my posts over the years probably knows I fall on the Magilla/Hustler side of this debate. No doubt it's partly because I came of age with these films, but I think the films of the early 70s -- especially from about mid-'71 to mid-'77 -- are an extraordinary group, comparable to the early 40s (in a different way, because they were among the first American films done without Production Code supervision). For my money, the boom ended in '77 -- in fact, you could take the April '77 Annie Hall/May '77 Star Wars debuts as demarking the era -- though there was a last burst of excitement in '79, before the dreary 80s kicked in.

I only saw 15 of Damien's bad list; of them, I don't share the full-on Lumet hate, I like New York New York (wth reservations), and, okay, I consider The Harrad Experiment a guilty pleasure. The rest I either tolerated (Rocky, Star Wars) or only saw by accident (Dutchess and Dirtwater Fox was on a double-bill with Next Stop, Greenwich Village).

As Eric and Magilla say, there are bad films released in all eras. I don't think they offset the basic ecology of a period when Coppola, Fosse, Polanski, Mazursky, Allen and Ashby were churning out some of their best work, Truffaut, Bergman, Fellini and Bunuel had major films, and many one-hit wonders provided discovery on what seemed a monthly basis.

Most of the fine work has already been cited by Magilla or Hustler; I'd only add American Graffiti, The Sorrow and the Pity and Being There. And, to go back to the thread's original topic, I think Manhattan is a great movie, Woody's zenith -- as much a leap over Annie Hall as Annie was over his "early, funny movies".

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Postby Eric » Mon Jul 16, 2007 5:30 am

I'm sure it wouldn't be too terribly difficult to come up with a list of 100 horrible movies from the 1950s.

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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:02 am

Every decade has its clinkers though I dare say there are more people who enjoyed Dog Day Afternoon, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Network, Rocky, The Goodbye Girl and Star Wars than there are those who would lump them together with I Will I Will...For Now, The Trial of Billy Jack, Mother Jugs and Speed, You Light Up My Life, Mrs. Polifax-Spy and Oliver's Story. Some of these things weren't in theatres long enough for more than a handful of people to go out to see them.

As for Another Man Another Woman it took twenty years for the critics and the public to catch up to what I thought about the original piece of crap they called simply A Man and a Woman.

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Postby Damien » Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:02 am

Big Magilla wrote:No, they weren't - the 80s were, and so were much of the 90s but the 70s gave us Five Easy Pieces, Lovers and Other Strangers, M*A*S*H, A Clockwork Orange, The Last Picture Show, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Panic in Needle Park, Cabaret, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Bang the Drum Slowly, Chinatown, Nashville, All the President's Men, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Breaking Away, Time After Time and Hair to name a few of the decade's pleasures, both large and small. It was also a decade in which art and revival houses flourished - Ozu's films including Tokyo Story were shown commercially in the U.S. fo the first time, Andrei Rublev was released, 1936's Show Boat and 1935's Roberta enjoyed a profitable run as a double bill, as did The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley and All About Eve and Sunset Bolulevard. Singin' in the Rain and Summertime were given major re-releases and foreign films from Day for Night, Amarcord and Lacombe, Lucien to The Marriage of Maria Braun, The Tree of Wooden Clogs and La Cage aux Folles found large receptive audiences.

To which I respond:
The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, , I Will I Will . . . For Now, The Magic of Lassie, The Great Gatsby, Another Man Another Woman, The Adventurers, Mame, Moment By Moment, Sugar Hill, The Savage Is Loose, The Big Bus, The Sentinel, Mr. Majestyk, The Swarm, The Thing With Two Heads, The Boatniks, Dog Day Afternoon, The Greek Tycoon, Mother Jugs And Speed, Man of La Mancha, Burnt Offerings, Lady Caroline Lamb, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Mrs. Pollifax-Spy, Save The Tiger, Oliver’s Story, Star Wars, Mahogany, You Light Up My Life, The Harrad Experiment, The Trial Of Billy Jack, Cancel My Reservation. New York New York, Avalanche Express, Bloodline, Rocky, Rafferty And The Gold Dust Twins, The Nightcomers, The Black Gestapo, The End Of The World In Our Usual Bed In A Night Full Of Rain, The Amityville Horror, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Dream Of Passion, Network, Every Which Way But Loose, The Big Sleep, The Other Side Of Midnight, All That Jazz, Rollercoaster, Looking For Mr. Goodbar, The Wilderness Family, The Goodbye Girl, Magic, The Christine Jorgensen Story

These represented the quality of the majority of pictures you would see if you were going out for an evening at the movies in the 70s.

Hell, I can come up with 100 wonderful movies from the 1980s, but that woulsn't change the fact that it was the worst decade ever for movies. And I'm afraid that your list, Big, doesn't negate the overall mediocrity of the Nixon/Ford/Carter years.
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Postby Hustler » Sun Jul 15, 2007 6:04 pm

I would add to that glorious decade: The Day of the Locust, Julia, Annie Hall, Dog Day Afternoon, Family Plot, Halloween, Klute, An Unmarried Woman, Violete Noziere, Women in Love, Carnal Knowledge, Duel, Harold and Maude, Straw Dogs,Deliverance, Sleuth, Don´t Looik Now, Last Tango in Paris, A Touch of Class, The Conversation, Lenny, Alice Doesn´t Live Here Anymore, Tommy, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over the Cuckoo´s Nest, Bound for Glory, Carrie, Days of Heaven, Interiors, Midnight Express, All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now.

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Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 15, 2007 4:21 pm

Damien wrote:
Reza wrote:When Manhattan opened in April 1979, Andrew Sarris began his Village Voice review as though granted a vision: Manhattan had "materialized out of the void as the one truly great American film of the '70s."

I offer this in evidence to counter all those who claim that the 1970s was some sort of Golden Age. Although I wouldn't go as far as Sarris did, for those of us who lived through it, cinematically the 70s were, on the whole, lousy.

No, they weren't - the 80s were, and so were much of the 90s but the 70s gave us Five Easy Pieces, Lovers and Other Strangers, M*A*S*H, A Clockwork Orange, The Last Picture Show, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Panic in Needle Park, Cabaret, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Bang the Drum Slowly, Chinatown, Nashville, All the President's Men, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Breaking Away, Time After Time and Hair to name a few of the decade's pleasures, both large and small. It was also a decade in which art and revival houses flourished - Ozu's films including Tokyo Story were shown commercially in the U.S. fo the first time, Andrei Rublev was released, 1936's Show Boat and 1935's Roberta enjoyed a profitable run as a double bill, as did The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley and All About Eve and Sunset Bolulevard. Singin' in the Rain and Summertime were given major re-releases and foreign films from Day for Night, Amarcord and Lacombe, Lucien to The Marriage of Maria Braun, The Tree of Wooden Clogs and La Cage aux Folles found large receptive audiences.

Not only was the product from Hollywood and around the world enjoying a renaisance so was the joy og going out to a movie. With the advent of the VCR in the 80s, followed by the invention of larger TVs, and eventually DVDs and HDTV, at home movie watching became preferable to many of us, but the 70s, while there was still a proliferation of real movie houses out there, was a great time for going out to a movie and the movies we went out to see, for the most part, didn't disappoint. If I were stuck in a time warp, the time I'd want to spent it in would be the 70s in Manhattan.

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Postby Hustler » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:56 pm

Nostalgia is a very powerful tool
Good article by the way.
I adore Manhattan.
Did you know that when this movie was going to be released in Argentina (this happened during the shameful military dictatorship) there was an attempt of censuring it that didn´t prosper due to the tenacious opposition of uncle woody that refused to allow cuts in its original film version?

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Postby Damien » Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:40 pm

Reza wrote:When Manhattan opened in April 1979, Andrew Sarris began his Village Voice review as though granted a vision: Manhattan had "materialized out of the void as the one truly great American film of the '70s."

I offer this in evidence to counter all those who claim that the 1970s was some sort of Golden Age. Although I wouldn't go as far as Sarris did, for those of us who lived through it, cinematically the 70s were, on the whole, lousy.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby Reza » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:56 am

Village Voice

Defending Manhattan
Woody's valentine to our fair city should finally be embraced for what it is: fantasy
by J. Hoberman
July 10th, 2007 3:52 PM

Manhattan—back for a week at Film Forum in a new 35mm print—is not just Woody Allen's dream movie. Wistful as it is witty, it's his dream of the movies.

Forty-four when he made Manhattan (1979), Allen was never more vividly himself than as the self-absorbed, Nazi-obsessed, horny TV writer and babe magnet Isaac. As a further improvement, the artist lopped two years off his character's age and gave him a 17-year-old adoring girlfriend, a Dalton senior named Tracy (18-year-old Mariel Hemingway). Whether or not Manhattan is Allen's most personal movie, it enshrines everything from his morality to his milieu. The opening, Gershwin-scored skyline montage segues naturally to a table at Elaine's, the then über-fashionable boîte for literary celebs, where Isaac and Tracy are introduced sharing a table with his insecurely married friends Yale (Michael Murphy) and Emily (Anne Byrne).

Isaac's liaison with the perfect, preternaturally perceptive Tracy gives Manhattan an outrageous premise (or so it seemed back then; it took another dozen years for the power of this fantasy to become evident). But it is Diane Keaton's Mary, the alluring neurotic with whom both Yale and Isaac fall in love, who provides Allen's psychodrama with both psycho and drama. Manhattan is famously a movie about relating to "relationships," but the key relationship is to oneself. All the characters, save the sublimely innocent Tracy, are in analysis and/or working on a book—most provocatively, Isaac's second ex-wife (a scary Meryl Streep), who has written a hostile memoir of their marriage. With this character, Allen acknowledges the Other.

Solipsism reigns supreme. No less than Quentin Tarantino, Allen can be the sum of his references; this is the movie where he offers his checklist of what makes life worth living, beginning with Groucho Marx. You are what you dig. Mary is defined by her snotty dismissal of Ingmar Bergman and Tracy by her incongruous enthusiasm for W.C. Fields. Fetishes abound, but art is what makes a fetish potent beyond its cult, and Manhattan is the Woody Allen movie where it all came together. The city is gorgeously rendered by cinematographer Gordon Willis; the apartments are lovingly cluttered with cultural detritus; the mainly East Side locations have been fastidiously selected. Every line is a one-liner, but the dialogue flows—it's not only funny but also seamless. "You look so beautiful I can hardly keep my eye on the meter," Isaac exclaims as he takes Mary home from their first date.

When Manhattan opened in April 1979, Andrew Sarris began his Village Voice review as though granted a vision: Manhattan had "materialized out of the void as the one truly great American film of the '70s." Leaving aside the decade's avant-garde and documentary productions, this is still a remarkable claim to make of a massively mythologized period. Where was the void? Why did Sarris love Manhattan so? For the first time, Allen's visual rhetoric was equal to his writing. For the first (and also the last) time, he graced the screen with a fully realized vision. And then, of course, there was the shock of recognition: Manhattan's world was a glamorized version of Sarris's.

As steeped in ambivalence as Manhattan is, it inspired the most complicated response of any Allen film. I well remember my own mix of admiration and contempt for what, as an almost thirtysomething, I experienced as a self-satisfied celebration of bourgeois bushwa. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Joan Didion crafted a disdainful, almost nonsensical put-down that reveled in inexplicable class distinctions. "In the large coastal cities of the United States this summer many people wanted to be served the perfect vegetable terrine. It was a summer in which only have-nots wanted a cigarette or a vodka-and-tonic or a charcoal-broiled steak. It was a summer in which the more hopeful members of the society wanted roller skates, and stood in line to see Woody Allen's Manhattan . . ." Could this sarcasm be the narcissism of small differences?

Where Sarris was enchanted with Allen's worldview, Didion felt only disgust. Allen seemed a parvenu, a poseur, an intellectual phony. She marveled that people identified with the movie's "false and desperate knowingness." It was high school writ large, the " 'class brains' acting out a yearbook fantasy of adult life." Manhattan seemed gratingly cliquish, even if it represented a clique of one. His town was not her town. Nor was it ours—as acknowledged by the two pages of critiques the Voice ran a month after Sarris's review.

Manhattan is the movie where Allen successfully projected his own self-absorption as a universal condition—and people responded with their personal identity politics. Stuart Byron scored Allen's inability to endorse any sexual lifestyle other than his own phallocentric sense of heterosexual serial monogamy; Stanley Crouch mocked the notion of a Manhattan populated exclusively by WASPs and Jews: "I have never seen an intelligent black character in a Woody Allen film." Carola Dibbell's half-hearted feminist take concluded that, although hopelessly mired in the '50s, Allen's sexual politics were still more evolved than his race or class consciousness. (Where Louis Armstrong and Willie Mays were only referred to in Manhattan, Bella Abzug actually appeared as a signifier of the Equal Rights Amendment.)

The most perverse view in the Voice was presented by Ellen Willis, who parsed Manhattan's "Jewish sexual politics" and proposed that Keaton was the movie's aggressive, argumentative, angst-ridden, and frizzy-haired crypto-Jewish Rebecca, with Hemingway as the resident dewy WASP Rowena: "Critics, as a group, can't stand grown-up Rebecca and love innocent Rowena's ass. This is clearly an anti-feminist bias. But could it also be anti-Semitism?"

Willis read Manhattan as an allegory of failed assimilation. But it is also the celebration of a promised land. In 1979, New York was still reeling from the 1975 default and summer of '77 blackout; the prevailing mood was apocalyptic. Graffiti was ubiquitous. CBGB trumped Elaine's. Chantal Akerman's 1977 News From Home, not Manhattan, was the definitive vision of the city's decayed industrial moonscape. Punk Super-8, not Ingmar Bergman, spoke to the zeitgeist. The irony of Isaac's complaint that "it's difficult to live in this town without a big income" was outrageous—this was virtually the last moment when one could live cheaply in Manhattan.

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 Island—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 Cairo—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 Lumiére actualité.

Manhattan's last shot, concluding an exchange between Isaac and Tracy as she leaves for London, has been compared to the miracle of recognition that ends City Lights. I read it differently; it doesn't seem an open ending. There's no question that something is over. Youth fades. Love never lasts. Everyone is forever trying to retrieve the past. Only the skyline remains. Allen's subsequent attempts to recapture Manhattan have often been embarrassing, but he (and we) will always have this.


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