Manhattan (12A)

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The Independent Culture

You don't need an excuse to see Manhattan again. It's one of Woody Allen's greatest romantic comedies, which makes it one of the greatest romantic comedies made by anyone.

But if you do want an excuse, the film should be seen at the cinema for its glorious opening sequence: Gershwin blaring from the speakers, 35 iconic black-and-white shots of the city, and Allen's lip-smacking narration stopping it all getting too sentimental. Because of that opening, Manhattan is usually filed as a love letter to New York, but it's just as much a poison-pen letter to New Yorkers, in particular those self-absorbed New Yorkers who would rather pontificate about life than live it. Allen is exasperated by them, and it's this moral indignation which sets him apart from Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner and those other imitators who think that his films are all about the wisecracks. The wisecracks are excellent, too, mind you.