I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided just that challenge.
I am often able to separate the art from the artist, but I don’t think I was successful at this while watching Manhattan. Woody Allen stars in his film about a man in his forties dating a 17-year-old high school girl. The knowledge that not long after filming Manhattan, Allen would go on to date and marry his romantic partner’s adopted daughter, who is 35 years his junior, is too hard to ignore. Regardless of the real-life similarities, watching an adult man date and sleep with a high school student is pretty gross and was a barrier to me enjoying the film.
Woody Allen’s films are hit or miss for me anyway. Given the sheer volume of films that he has made, it is impossible to assume they would all be winners. Manhattan was a miss for me. The magic formula that works in Annie Hall, made just a couple years prior, didn’t transfer to Manhattan. It lacks the same kind of humor and charm that Annie Hall has, and the jokes that were there landed very flat.
Another big problem is the characters in the film are almost entirely unlikable. Isaac is this argumentative, pseudo-intellectual, annoying man who spends the film “chasing tail” and arguing with his pseudo-intellectual friends. You don’t want him to be with Tracy because she is a kid who has her whole life ahead of her and you don’t want him to be with Mary (Diane Keaton), with whom he’s been flirting, because they are clearly wrong for each other.
Fortunately, this film has a quick run time of 96 minutes so you only have to be around these obnoxious people and their trite problems for a short time.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Manhattan ranking: Destroyer