Every shot in Manhattan, whether of the cityscape, the interiors or the actors, is so carefully and beautifully composed, it’s not surprising Allen lets the cast go a little loose. Gordon Willis’s black and white photography is luminous, giving the city an otherworldly, dreamlike feel. That feeling, thanks to Allen’s composition, carries over to some of the interior scenes too. There are these occasional observations of regular human activity, but with the composition and lighting, they appear singular.
Allen also holds a lot of shots—usually of himself. Manhattan’s really his film as an actor. It starts out having room for Michael Murphy and Diane Keaton, but as the film progresses, Allen’s character takes over. His unlikely character proves to be the best protagonist, partially because Murphy and Keaton don’t give particularly good performances. Well, particularly is a little too complimentary. Murphy’s weak (and I love him, so it’s too bad) and Keaton’s mediocre. The same goes for Mariel Hemingway, who’s just a little too blasé—Allen gets away with a lot thanks to the composition and Willis’s photography, but it only covers so much.
The rest of the supporting cast is excellent—Meryl Streep is hilarious, Anne Byrne Hoffman is good. It’s too bad they’re both in the film so little.
George Gershwin arrangements are the film’s score and it usually works to great effect. Sometimes the booming music and the lush photography overwhelm, making Manhattan transcend.
Manhattan’s an impressive film, though it can’t completely overcome the acting problems.
Directed by Woody Allen; written by Allen and Marshall Brickman; director of photography, Gordon Willis; edited by Susan E. Morse; production designer, Mel Bourne; produced by Charles H. Joffe and Jack Rollins; released by United Artists.
Starring Woody Allen (Isaac), Diane Keaton (Mary), Michael Murphy (Yale), Mariel Hemingway (Tracy), Meryl Streep (Jill), Anne Byrne Hoffman (Emily), Michael O’Donoghue (Dennis), Wallace Shawn (Jeremiah) and Karen Ludwig (Connie).
Posted in United Artists, English, USA, Drama, Comedy, Romance, Black and White, 1979
Tagged Wallace Shawn, Woody Allen, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep, Gordon Willis, Michael Murphy, Mel Bourne, Charles H. Joffe, Jack Rollins, Susan E. Morse, Diane Keaton, Marshall Brickman, Anne Byrne Hoffman, Karen Ludwig, Michael O'Donoghue
Roughly a third of Superman IV is missing, so it’s a little difficult to really form an opinion of the filmmakers’ intentions. I mean, it was an anti-nuclear proliferation movie… which suggests they were well-intentioned, but it’s impossible to know what they were trying to do with it as a film. For instance, it doesn’t have an ending. It also doesn’t have any real drama, but you can have an ending without a drama.
Some of the edits make me curious if anyone noticed, while it was being cut and recut and so on, if there’s the serious implication Lois Lane knows Clark Kent is Superman. There’s this weird scene at the beginning where we find out Superman takes Lois Lane out on flying dates then brainwashes her with the magic kiss (last seen in Superman II) whenever the date’s over. But the later scenes with Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve… it’s like they’re playing it like she knows. There’s a definite subtext. It’s nearly interesting.
The opening actually seems like the first real Superman sequel. It’s not awkward like II or gimmicky like III, as a tabloid tycoon swoops in to buy out the Daily Planet. It gives drama to the Clark Kent side of things and lots of opportunity for returning cast members Jackie Cooper and Marc McClure… then doesn’t do anything with them.
Furie’s actually got some good shots and the effects are–while terrible–occasionally ambitious.
And Hackman… even with terrible lines, he’s great.
Directed by Sidney J. Furie; screenplay by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, based on a story by Christopher Reeve, Konner and Rosenthal and on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; director of photography, Ernest Day; edited by John Shirley; music by Alexander Courage; production designer, John Graysmark; produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Christopher Reeve (Superman / Clark Kent), Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor), Margot Kidder (Lois Lane), Jackie Cooper (Perry White), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), Jon Cryer (Lenny), Sam Wanamaker (David Warfield), Mark Pillow (Nuclear Man), Mariel Hemingway (Lacy Warfield), Damian McLawhorn (Jeremy), William Hootkins (Harry Howler), Jim Broadbent (Jean Pierre Dubois), Stanley Lebor (General Romoff), Don Fellows (Levon Hornsby) and Susannah York (Lara).
Posted in 1987, Action, Adventure, Color, English, Family, Fantasy, French, Italian, Russian, Sci-Fi, UK, USA, Warner Bros.
Tagged Alexander Courage, Christopher Reeve, Damian McLawhorn, Don Fellows, Ernest Day, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Jerry Siegel, Jim Broadbent, Joe Shuster, John Graysmark, John Shirley, Jon Cryer, Lawrence Konner, Marc McClure, Margot Kidder, Mariel Hemingway, Mark Pillow, Mark Rosenthal, Menahem Golan, Sam Wanamaker, Sidney J. Furie, Stanley Lebor, Susannah York, William Hootkins, Yoram Globus