Posted November 23rd, 2012 at 6:11 am6 Comments
For decades my favorite film has been “Manhattan” and I don’t care what a louse Woody Allen is in real life; most of my favorite authors have been louses too (Exhibit A: Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky). I love everything about that movie: the black and white, the trifecta of beauty that is Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, the Gershwin soundtrack, the portrayal of a writer distracted by everything and that wonderful moment near the end where Isaac Davis, the character played by Allen, records a list of things that make life worth living. Trying to sort out ideas for a short story he wants to write, he speaks into an old-school tape recorder that looked retro the first time I saw the film but looks ancient now. The beginning of the list is predictible for him, and for his viewers (Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, Swedish movies). Then things start to surface: Louis Armstrong’s recording of Potatohead Blues, “those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne.” Then he surprises himself by saying “Tracy’s face.” The face of a girl he wanted to be rid of, whose heart he broke. It’s a moment of revelation born out of his writing process. Moments later he’s running through the streets of Manhattan to Tracy’s apartment, and what great Gershwin tune plays in the background? They’re writing songs of love, but not for me. . .
Of course he and Tracy are doomed; Gershwin says so. But that never dims my pleasure in watching Isaac realize that Tracy’s face is an essential ingredient in life.
Make your list. Go ahead. And I’ll make mine.