Diane Keaton, Manhattan

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sunday, April 10, 2005

David Denby

“No longer trapped in Woody's fantasies as beautiful girls who might go to bed with him or turn him down, most of the women characters have become fully rounded too… Mariel Hemingway… is a marvel…. When she finds her voice, she could become a wonderful actress.

“And Diane Keaton gives her boldest, most interesting performance to date. She and Woody have really captured something this time--a new woman, as startlingly fresh as some of Godard's heroines a dozen years ago. Shrill, torturously self-conscious, uncontrollably eager to impress, her journalist is a hustler and a bit of a faker, yet terribly sympathetic all the same. Like so many women now who race ahead on guts and willpower, she constantly needs to reassure herself that her success isn't a mirage. "I'm a beautiful woman; I'm young; I've got everything going for me," she retiterates angrily, shaking off the specter of disaster like a witch doctor waving a charm. Manhattan is Woody's baby, his dolorous love poem to New York, but for the first time Diane has pulled even with him as an imaginative creation in her own right. She gives the movie a large part of its restless, unhappy soul.”

David Denby
New York, d-d-d-date ?

Andrew Sarris

“…. Leslie Fiedler once complained that no character in a Hollywood movie ever seemed to have read a book, and most of us said thank god because ostentatious book readers would tend to seem anemic and impotent on the screen. This is not so in Manhattan. Woody Allen's Isaac Davis, Diane Keaton's Mary Wilke, Michael Murphy's Yale, Mariel Hemingway's Tracy, Meryl Streep's Jill, and Anne Byrne's Emily lose none of their vitality and individuality simply because they are capable of sharing a cultivated milieu with each other.

“…. [B]y and large [Allen] gets by with the most self-conscious camera conceits imaginable because of the force and strength of the characterizations in their somber setting. In coming to care about their fates, I found myself sorry to see the picture end, and I cannot remember the last time I experienced that feeling.

“Hemingway, Streep, and Byrne are as lovely and luminously womanly as Keaton, and Murphy proves again how subtly accomplished he is, but the big acting revelation of the film is Allen himself….”

Andrew Sarris
Village Voice, April 30, 1979
[cut some, maybe]

Sarris before the 1979 Academy Awards:

‘My ideal choice for Best Actress is Hanna Schygulla for The Marriage of Maria Braun, despite James Wolcott’s carefully aimed kick at her powdered thighs in one of his recent digressions. In the realm of the real, however, Sally Field is plenty okay in Norma Rae, even over such strong competition as Jill Clayburgh in Starting Over, Marsha Mason in Chapter Two, Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome, and Bette Midler, for whom the bloom seems to be off The Rose. I regret that, even in this strong roster, no place was found for Diane Keaton’s marvelously self-mocking portrayal in Manhattan. It is a subtler and more dynamic characterization than even her Annie Hall.”

Village Voice, April 14, 1980

Molly Haskell

"We had faces then," said Gloria Swanson in . . . Sunset Boulevard. She was referring to silent film actresses, but she might have been talking about 'thirties and 'forties stars as well. In fact, Jill Clayburgh made a similar point in An Unmarried Woman…. They not only had faces: they had cameramen, lighting technicians, courturiers, and directors who loved every plane of those bodies and lavished their considerable art in displaying these women at their ideal best….

“Today's actresses may have more glaring flaws than Claudette Colbert's right profile, but who's around to cover for them?… Directors, freed from bondage to studios, stars, and stories, are… bent on self-expression. Their serious projects take the form of autobiographical journeys, or searches for the sort of fleeting improvisational truth that precludes careful construction of plot, character, and image. And women themselves are more apt to demand authenticity over artifice…

“At its worst, the cult of non-glamour has led to a cinema in which women are either absent altogether or subjected to harsh lighting and angles that leave them defenseless….

“But, at their best, harmonious pairings of director and star produce results that are extraordinary--unexpected, challenging, modern, and liberated in the best sense. In the right hands, the hands-off policy can be an act of loving generosity: we seem to be seeing actresses not as goddesses, fixed forever in youthful quasi-virginity, but as women growing up and old, changing before our eyes.

“Diane Keaton's collaboration with Woody Allen, one of the cinema's most fruitful rapports, has produced moments as charged as anything in the pampered past. Take Keaton's first entrance in Manhattan. Allen and girl friend Mariel Hemingway are at a gallery opening when Allen's buddy, Michael Murphy, spots them and comes over, expanding the group to three. Then, almost without our noticing, the beautiful black-and-white widescreen composition becomes four as Keaton slides up and joins them. That the entrance of this woman, about whom we have heard so much and are intensely curious, should be "unannounced," i.e., by the traditional cut, has the paradoxical effect of making her more mysterious. Her totality precedes her face, and the close-up, when in finally does come, is overwhelming, as thrilling as Garbo's most rapturously romantic tête-à-tête with the camera.

“Keaton's frazzled reserve, her agitated insecurity are the latter-day antitheses of Garbo's yielding. If the old stars found a seamless persona and kept it, Keaton is all seams, all contradictions. One minute, she looks seventeen; the next, a tired forty-five. Voluble, hans in her skinny-jeans pocket, she is lithe as a panther, only to become as frumpy as a washerwoman, as defensively unkempt as a schoolgirl studying for exams on a Saturday night.

“Along with Keaton, Allen creates in Manhattan a gallery of women as engaging and lovingly observed as the remarkable women of Allen's idol, Ingmar Bergman. Most appealing of all is Mariel Hemingway's big, solid, flat-chested teenager….

“Unlike Bergman's women, Allen's are no Earth Mothers or sensualists but American to the roots of their anxieties. If Allen intrudes upon his creations, and gives himself all the best lines as the star of the show, he also turns his riducule upon himself rather than upon the women, thus allowing them to be beautiful. In a roundabout way, his own taste is confirmed, as audiences, admiring these women, think, "Oh, what taste Woody Allen has!"

“As she evolves under Woody Allen's lustful, and loving, gaze, Keaton's image becomes more complex. She is the shiksa, the Midwestern WASP turned urban feminist, seen through the eyes of an overanalyzed Jewish intellectual. In the Alan Parker/Bo Goldman Shoot the Moon, she is less anxious, more at peace with herself as homemaker. The Keaton that Warren Beatty takes up with in Reds, is closer to the Keaton of Manhattan . . . or even Interiors: Louise Bryant less as the great beauty and heartbreaker than as a nervy--and nervous--bluestocking, desperate to break the mold and be taken seriously….”

“Paul Mazursky is another New York director drawn to the shiksa… But unlike Woody Allen, Mazursky identifies with his women, sees them from the inside. As a result, he gets an inward glow from Ellen Burstyn in Harry and Tonto and from [Jill] Clayburgh unlike anything Allen gets from his women….”

Molly Haskell
Vogue, date?, 285, 349
[should get more, perhaps]

Stephen Schiff

“[Mary is] high-strung…[,] tense, attractive….

“…. Late in the movie,… [Allen's Isaac] announces plans for ‘a short story about people in Manhattan who are constantly creating these real unnecessary neurotic problems for therselves that keep them from dealing with more terrifying, unsolvable problems about the universe.’ Manhattan is that short story, and much more besides…. In allowing the humor to emerge from his story and the people in it, Allen has come up with the most vivid, convincingly literate characters in years….

“A self-styled expert on all matters artistic, Mary is the very model of the modern urban neurotic: abuzz with opinions, endlessly seeking confirmation of her intelligence, her beauty, and her prestige. When Yale [Michael Murphy] drops her, Isaac finds himself falling in love with her. Not only is he drawn to her beauty and her energy, he also thinks he might be good for her. The mess she's made out of her life exasperates the hell out of him…. [Insert what's cut?]

“…. The actors pass freely in and out of the frame, and the camera never scurries to contain them or pin them in some pretty configuration. Much of the movie feels improvised; the people in it are Allen's friends off the screen as well as on, so their real-life chemistry makes the small exchanges sparkle…. And Diane Keaton delivers her best performance yet, melding the lunatic nervousness of her Annie Hall with the angst of her unconvincing role in Interiors to create an oddly appealing portrait of the modern career woman, hurtling along on some mysterious momentum toward a destiny she's never had the time to fathom.

“Manhattan's most striking performance, however, belongs to Woody Allen….”

Stephen Schiff
Boston Phoenix, May 8, 1979

Stanley Kauffmann

“The rest of the cast [besides Allen] is mediocre to poor…. And Diane Keaton gives us one more go-round of her crazy mixed-up New York girl, broken sentences and all. It's not acting, it's a routine. The only difference this time is the hair-do; this time it's frizzy, and, simian-like, covers her brow. And this time the photography--particularly at a concert--shows that, for her, the hourglass is running.”

Stanley Kauffmann
New Republic, May 19, 1979
Before My Eyes, p 150


Diane Keaton
Manhattan 1979

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