107 Reasons to see Manhattan

Written by  //  December 7, 2007  //  Donnyblurbs  //  9 Comments

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This weekend a new 35mm print of Woody Allen’s nearly flawless film Manhattan will be shown at the Starz Film Center. The excitement for seeing a vintage Allen film on the big screen has prompted me to provide the straightforward argument for use of an hour and a half of your time. So, get yourself a snack and a beverage because here are the 107 reasons, in no particular order, why you should see Manhattan.

1. Manhattan is the city where every aspiring intellectual should want to live, and Woody Allen is a huge part of that perception.
2. If there is ever a group above Mensa, the acceptance test should be to correctly identify all of the references in this film.
3. Thanks to SUVs and cow shit, in ten years the majority of Manhattan will be under water. If you aren’t good about saving frequent flyer miles this may be your last chance to see the New York cityscape at near life size.
4. Stars Meryl Streep when she was known for being extremely hot instead of simply the most gifted actor of her generation.
5. Black and White is the actor’s friend.
6. Woody Allen’s next film stars Colin Farrell, so it’s best to remember the good times before the harsh contrast of the bad times come to life.
7. The seventh of December is when the film begins its run.
8. Used the skyline in movie logo before The Departed reintroduced it and We Own the Night exploited it.
9. Diane Keaton’s pronunciation of an eccentric Dutch Post-Impressionist artist.
10. Scarlett Johansson is this film’s junior by five years, which makes one wonder if she is Woody Allen’s new muse or if Woody Allen was really Mr. and Mrs. Johansson’s muse to make a beautiful daughter.
11. Established the rule that, when dealing with Nazis, physical force is better than biting satire.
12. There are no opening credits, though some argue the film’s title is displayed in neon lights. But if this is truly the case, the film would have to be “Parking Manhattan.”
13. The thirteenth is the last day to see this film at the Starz Film Center, unless you’re rich enough to rent the Starz Film Center and have a Woody Allen marathon. If that is the case, be sure to invite me.
14. Beautiful wide shots with ADR dialogue show the intimate side of the massive New York City.
15. A 240 second postcard-esque tour of Manhattan for everyone who wonders what NYC looked like to the colorblind.
16. Diane Keaton’s Mary compares the Pope to the computer in 2001.
18. The film was produced by United Artists. The same United Artists that was founded by Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith in 1919, and the same United Artists that will be run into the ground by Tom Cruise by 2010.
19. Woody loves New York, and one of the responsibilities of loving New York is to love the New York Knicks. Having said that, seeing Isaac awkwardly dribbling a basketball is all the more hilarious now we know that he could probably come off the bench for the 2007-08 Knicks.
20. For all the people stumbling on to Donnybrook for the first time, this film is an example of how smart people fall in love.
21. Number of CGI armor-wearing polar bears in Manhattan: 0
22. Used George Gershwin music before it was only known as touching music for sappy airline commercials.
23. Was insightful enough to say “Gossip is the new pornography” before gossip became the new gospel and pornography became the new national pastime.
24. Was Woody Allen’s first film shot in black and white.
25. This is Woody Allen’s “least favorite” film he’s made. Now you have to see it, you don’t want to agree with a man who cheated on his long-term girlfriend with his long-term girlfriend’s adopted daughter, do you?
26. There was a time when an intellectual talking-heads comedy was commercially viable; pretend you are living in a time when the pop culture had a college degree, and see this film.
27. “I look so incredibly handsome with a cigarette that I can’t not hold one” is the same philosophy I have on smoking.
28. Woody Allen’s character is a TV writer when writing for TV was still looked down upon.
29. Woody Allen has been nominated for more Academy Awards than anyone in the history of film, but that doesn’t mean that he ever has graced the awards ceremony with his presence.
30. Wide dark shots with contrasting light in a small area are more than just eye candy in this film.
31. If you see this film every day of the week, you can be assured that at least once during one of the viewings Woody Allen will be playing a clarinet.
32. This film is the godfather of mumble-core.
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33. Not only is Meryl Streep ultra attractive in the film, she is also a lesbian with an ultra attractive girlfriend.
34. If you watch the fourth chapter of the film backwards, the characters reveal an amazing recipe for egg salad.
35. The last episode of 30 Rock had Tina Fey dating someone 17 years her junior, proving the hilarious situation of “robbing the cradle” still has comic potential twenty-eight years after this film was released.
36. The extent of all of the special features from the vintage Woody Allen DVDs amount to nothing more that a pile of “Collectible Booklets” and possibly a theatrical trailer.
37. Diane Keaton’s character in the film won the coveted Zelda Fitzgerald Emotional Maturity Award.
38. Manhattan is a romantic comedy before romantic comedies became gender exclusive.
39. Was the last script Marshall Brickman co-wrote with Woody, before the two reunited to delve deeper in the NYC state of mind in Manhattan Murder Mystery, a movie title with more alliteration than most freshmen poets.
40. Besides being the director of photography on eight other Woody Allen films, Gordon Willis also shot all of The Godfather trilogy.
41. The film was shot in Panavision.
42. All trends start in New York, and Allen’s metaphor of urban decay has now spread to national decay.
43. Allen said of the film, “I like to think that 100 years from now if people see the picture, they will learn something about what life in the city was like in the 1970s.” Although it’s only been twenty-eight years, the curiosity of New York in the ’70s isn’t just reserved to social anthropologists and time travelers.
44. Isaac Davis chooses to live free, but was never given the option to die hard.
45. The United States Library of Congress view the film as culturally significant and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Unfortunately for Gordon Willis, only two of the three Godfather films are on that list.
46. The film’s characters routinely go to the museums and planetariums despite being past the age of elementary school field trips.
47. Manhattan in Manhattan is timeless, George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” is timeless, Gordon Willis’ lens is timeless, Woody Allen’s humor is timeless. The film is timeless.
48. Since black and white had become obsolete in the ’70s, Allen custom-built a film laboratory to develop the negatives.
49. Mary Wilke has crimped hair in the film, paving the way for the decade with the most crimped hair in recorded history.
50. One of the supporting characters name is Yale, a perfectly pretentious name for a Manhattan intellectual.
51. This may be your only chance to see a black and white film on the big screen this year.
52. Number of CGI naked Angelina Jolie demon-esque characters in Manhattan: 0
53. Woody Allen attempts to play three sports in the film.
54. With inflation added, the film grossed closed to 110 million dollars domestically.
56. The conversation about art in the first meeting of Diane Keaton’s character is the perfect example of how to castrate anyone’s opinion.
57. Woody Allen made this film when he was forty-four, but has the emotional range to play a forty-two year-old.
58. In the ’70s Allen directed seven films, every following decade he has written and directed at least ten, and is on pass to surpass that this decade; the only difference is where the films of the ’70s were brilliant, his next film stars Colin Farrell.
59. Woody Allen loved Gordon Willis’ composition so much that he prohibited the film to ever be seen in pan and scan, and to back up his artistic integrity he sued a Swedish television station for showing the film in pan and scan format.
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60. The scene in the planetarium could be the best shot sequence in any Woody Allen film.
61. Mariel Hemingway garnered an Academy Award nomination for her role. She didn’t have long-term success to match the role Tracy, but she was perfectly in-sync in this film.
62. The Starz Film Center serves beer and wine, so watching this film won’t cut into time allotted for weekend drinking.
63. The final conflict between Isaac and Yale takes place in a college anthropology classroom. What better way to make Woody Allen look tough than to have him make an argument standing next to an ape’s skeleton.
64. Free ideas for doctorates in film studies or athletic anthropology: In-depth study of how New York sports affected Woody Allen’s filmmaking.
65. Collin Farrell has starred in over twenty movies, but there is only one worth repeat-viewing. The reason he’s tolerable in it is because he dies at the beginning of the third act. He’s going to be in the next Woody Allen film, so it might be awhile before a viewable Woody Allen film is in theaters.
66. “I think that with Manhattan I’ve integrated things more,” says Allen, “it’s like a mixture of what I was trying to do with Annie Hall and Interiors.” More critical of its characters than the former and more understanding of their flaws than the latter, Manhattan is filled with moments that are hilariously funny and others that are devastatingly tragic.
67. The reason was provided by the collectible booklet listed as a Special Feature on the DVD release of Manhattan.
68. You’ve already seen the new Coen Brothers film, but that shouldn’t mean you’ve met the quote for smart films.
69. Ha-ha. sixty-nine.
70. Woody Allen’s Isaac Davis, 42, is dating a seventeen-year-old. The preposterous idea that Woody would date someone younger than him can only be seen on screen and is a testament to his ability as an actor.
71. Only thirty-six more hours. . . I mean reasons to go. 36 more reasons.
72. Parking at the Tivoli lot is free with theater validation.
73. The Starz Film Centers synopsis of the film is nearly word-for-word from the back of the DVD, showing that the employees were probably too excited to have this classic revival film showing at their theater that they took the lazy route for producing this month’s program guide.
74. If you haven’t seen this film you run the risk of missing out on crucial references in future scholarly media.
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75. Why is life worth living? It’s a very good question. Um… Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh… Like what… okay… um… For me, uh… ooh… I would say… what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing… uh… um… and Wilie Mays… and um… the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony… and um… Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues… um… Swedish movies, naturally… Sentimental Education by Flaubert… uh… Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra… um… those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne… uh… the crabs at Sam Wo’s… uh… Tracy’s face..
76. If Fritz Godard was compiling this list, it would be identical except I would add the film Manhattan.
78. 3 words: Man. Hat. Tan.
79. When you add 1900 to this reason, you get the year Manhattan was released.
81. Would you notice it if I skipped a number?
82. Did I mention how hot Meryl Streep is in this film?
83. The name of the show that Isaac Davis works for is titled Human Beings, Wow!
84. Characters have established the Academy of the Overrated.
85. Are you still reading this?
86. Have I said that Gordon Willis is a genius cinematographer?
87. Woody Allen’s script, despite being loaded with highbrow references, is vastly accessible due to lines like “The brain is the most overrated organ.”
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88. Those Apples and Pears by Cezanne are truly incredible.
89. Watching a character with brown tap water makes me feel better for drinking brown tap water.
90. The film is full of long tracking shots. If the film were shot today all the shots would be done with a steady cam. Luckily, Gordon Willis knows how important a steady tracking shot can be.
91. Isaac quitting his job is inspiring to everyone who hates their job or hates television programming.
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92. The poster for Match Point has the identical format of the poster of Manhattan, which is why the critics praised the film so much.
93. The Woody Allen wisdom: on orgasms – “You had the wrong kind? Really? I never had the wrong kind ever. My worst one was right on the money.”
94. Any film that references both Fellini and Bergman deserves to be seen on the big screen.
95. Have there been any reasons where I’ve expressed my distaste for Colin Farrell?
96. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
97. Isaac Davis wrote a short story about his mother titled the Castrating Zionist.
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98. The shot of Isaac and Mary watching the lights on the Manhattan bridge is iconographic, and it is always good to have the back story on iconographic images.
99. The transition between the romantic carriage ride in Central Park and the breakup between Yale and Mary is perfectly motivated and executed with emotional sensitivity.
100. There are a some classic silent comedy routines with Isaac and his son that really show Allen’s influences.
101. Number of Dane Cook appearances in Manhattan: 0
102. Six more. . . must. . . find. . . more. . . reasons . . . for. . . Manhattan
103. Three syllables: man’hatn; men –
104. The ‘e’ in the last syllable in the reason above should be upside down . . . damn you, Microsoft and Typepad!
105. But Allen presents Manhattan as a metaphor for humanity’s finest moral aspirations – as well as its deleterious influence on them. “We have this opulent, relatively well-educated culture,” suggests the filmmaker, “and yet . . . we see people lose themselves. . . because they don’t deal with their sense of spiritual emptiness.”
106. The last reason was another contribution from the collectible booklet, and regardless of the insight it provides I would rather have a DVD edition with a Woody Allen commentary.
107. The final reason; I view this film as the reward the staff of the Starz Film Center is giving themselves for putting on such a great festival this year. The general public should feel as lucky to see the new 35mm print of Woody Allen’s nearly flawless film Manhattan.

About the Author

Fritz Godard

Fritz Godard is Donnybrook's film columnist, world-renowned filmmaker, and reason behind Marilyn Monroe's demise.

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9 Comments on "107 Reasons to see Manhattan"

  1. Col. Hector Bravado December 7, 2007 at 2:04 pm · Reply

    Next up: 107 Reasons I Think Fritz Godard Does Crank.
    Seriously, though. I have never seen this movie and now I want to.

  2. Angora December 7, 2007 at 2:17 pm · Reply

    Well, I’ve read the 107 reasons and I’m still not quite convinced. Maybe if it had that dreamy Colin Farrell in it…

  3. dicker December 8, 2007 at 5:49 am · Reply

    108. Divorced father & sons football league.
    109. Opening sequence
    110. Film is so well written that it’s enough to make you forgive, if not forget, the absolute garbage Woody Allen has inflicted upon the world for the last decade.

  4. browneheather October 29, 2009 at 10:45 am · Reply

    your 107 reasons convinced me but i am summarily retarded and cannot find when this is playing ont he Starz website. help! ayudame!

  5. Angora October 29, 2009 at 10:51 am · Reply

    Oh sorry for the confusion! This is a super old post. I doubt it’s playing anymore at Starz, sadly…

  6. browneheather October 29, 2009 at 10:56 am · Reply

    see? i’m retarded. i can’t read dates and things.

  7. Father Guido Sarducci IV
    Guido Sarducci IV October 29, 2009 at 10:59 am · Reply

    @browneheather – I’m sure you could have one of your many man-servants run down to the video warehouse and pick you up a copy.

  8. browneheather October 29, 2009 at 11:09 am · Reply

    yes, I am in that special RichFlix club. it’s like Netflix in that I can order online, but the difference is that a strapping manservant on a white steed goes immediately (post-haste) to the marble-column-flanked repository and delivers it to me within fifteen minutes. also: he wears gold spandex (or lurex) briefs, and the DVDs are never scratched right at that good part.

    good idea, father sarducci. good idea indeed.

  9. Team Donnybrook
    godonnybrook October 29, 2009 at 11:19 am · Reply


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