Woody Allen‘s film Manhattan (1979) is one of the mainstays of our Writing New York course, and I think it’s a great film.
Unfortunately, Woody himself doesn’t seem to agree.
In an interview with the Times of London this weekend to mark the UK opening of his 2009 film Whatever Works, Allen registered disappointment with his cinematic oeuvre. Asked whether he was happy with his films, Allen responded:
Really interesting, Cyrus, and, as a longtime Woody Allen fan, I was quite surprised by what he chose as his six “prize” films. I would definitely rank PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO among his best, and maybe HUSBANDS AND WIVES, but I’m not so sure about his other choices. And, I agree, it’s odd that he doesn’t seem to value MANHATTAN. I don’t think I’ve seen it since its initial release, but I’m putting it up at the top of my Netflix queue and, hopefully, will take a second look at it this week.
Allen made a film in the early ’80s, SEPTEMBER, that I have a special fondness for. It’s pretty Chekhovian and feels at times like it should be a play instead of movie, but it has a terrific cast who all give excellent performances. (Elaine Stritch is especially memorable, in a turn that got her a little bit of Oscar buzz but, alas, no nomination.)
Match Point over Annie Hall? Oy.
It’s true, he has had so many films, but most of them are pointless crap. But a few are truly great: i.e., Hannah, Husbands and Wives, Match Point, okay Manhattan too, but barely, I guess the black and white film elevates the material a bit. Funny that he wants his ashes scattered on Madison. Whenever I have seen him on the street it is ALWAYS on Madison, usually in the high 80s.
Match Point is an utter, unrelenting embarrassment. Clunky dialogue. Crappy acting. No sense for the city of London (or English society, for that matter). I was furious after I saw it. Furious.
Annie Hall and Crimes and Misdemeanors (sp?)
Allen’s London in Match Point seems much like his NYC in Manhattan. Tightly framed. Both offer a highly imaginative construction (even if the tones are rather different)–i think the NYTs review (or a similar one) compared Allen’s urban imagination to that of Henry James. But I’d say that the search for the something to hitch meaning to anchors both films.
And I know you’re no ScarJo fan, Cyrus–I can imagine your groan over Vicky Cristina Barcelona–does Match Point (and what’s that other one…Scoop?) rank as similarly groan-worthy?
Thanks for the post–inspires a comprehensive summer re-viewing of Allen films! 🙂