Manhattan, Blu-ray (1979/2012)
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway
Cinematographer: Gordon Willis
Studio: Fox/MGM [1/24/12]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD B&W
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio mono, French mono, Spanish mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Length: 96 minutes
Not an Annie Hall, but this one has lots of Diane Keaton and gorgeous widescreen black & white cinematography of New York City. His life was really imitating his art at this time, and it may be a bit creepy to some viewers that his main squeeze in this film is a 17-year-old played by the young Mariel Hemingway. It’s still a great urban comedy, like Annie Hall, and in some ways more serious. In addition to the visual love note to Manhattan, the film is sparked by the gorgeous and appropriate tunes of George Gershwin, played by the New York Philharmonic and Buffalo Symphony.
42-year-old Isaac is dealing with a TV writing job he hates, an underage girlfriend he really doesn’t love, and a lesbian ex-wife who writes a best-selling book about their marriage and his foibles. His best male friend, who is married, has Keaton’s character as a mistress, but pawns her off on Isaac when she wants to end the relationship. Isaac and Mary are both head over heels for awhile, but eventually she feels she still loves the married man. What a mess of modern relationships.
The movie, however, is not a mess and is fun to watch. I was surprised the soundtrack was only mono, but it still sounds terrific. The Blu-ray transfer does justice to the often extremely dark scenes at night in Manhattan and in rooms. And Woody, as the same overly-analytical shlub he usually is, gets off some great lines. He covers romance, intellectualism, fidelity, aging, and many other concerns with a jaundiced but often hilarious eye. I was miffed that there really weren’t any extras whatever.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.