Directed by and starring Woody Alan, featuring Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, among many other famous actors and actresses of that era, the 1979 comedy, Manhattan is a story about love, break ups, divorce and the realities of life and love in modern day society.
Everyone remembers this black and white hit movie from the 1970’s as it showcases the lives of each character and their relationship struggles in a humorous, nostalgic kind of way. Set in magical New York, following the life of frustrated, twice divorced writer Isaac Davis, Alan tries to convey his love hate relationship to the city and his struggles that come with falling in love.
Meryl Streep’s role in Manhattan, despite it being a few short scenes, set the stage for her onscreen image. Long blonde locks, a cool almost hard faced persona, undoubtably defined her future roles and set her on the path to stardom. As she plays the role of a bisexual who leaves her husband (Isaac) for another woman, Meryl’s role is short but sweet. Isaac who then falls for a young teenager, battles with the decision to break off his new found relationship for yet another love affair.
Woody Alan’s wit makes this movie a hilarious romantic comedy, while also touching on a more serious note regarding relationships and whether or not they can withstand the test of time in the modern era.
Defending your Life
In this 1991 American romantic-fantasy film, Meryl Streep plays the role of Julia a young woman in the after life realm where Daniel Miller finds himself after a fatal car crash. In this hysterical romantic comedy, director Albert Brooks tries to portray a world in which we defend our actions, question our life decisions and evaluate our life’s potential in the afterlife. As Daniel, a young accomplished executive tries to come to terms with his sudden death, he finds himself face to face with his life’s trial in a place called Judgement City.
Albert Brooks plays a very convincing and confused character who is obviously trying to figure out how to justify his lack of manhood from his previous life, his insecurities and his failures. The computer game-like concept, where he can only move to the next level if he has no regrets show humour and Brook’s lack of seriousness for the story line. His trial will determine his fate.
Julia & Daniel instantly fall in love. They are caught up in a world where calories don’t exist, the weather is constantly perfect and life is an absolute dream.
Streep is both charming and enjoyable to watch on screen, and while her role was small, she still was able to make a huge impact. It’s romanticism mixed with irony make it an enjoyable movie that will appeal to all on a certain level. Defending your life was beautifully summed up by Bertrand Russell’s comment – “To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
This is a comedy with a hidden message that we can all relate to. Life should not be taken for granted and we should all live it to our full potential.