Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Manhattan Murder Mystery. A-

I suppose anyone looking for a good mystery double feature would be all set with Blue Velvet and then Woody Allen's wonderful Manhattan Murder Mystery. Clearly paying homage to classic thriller/mysteries (I saw a lot of Rear Window in it myself), the film is Allen's solution to the dragging, dull career lifestyle of city dwellers. Find out that your neighbor may be a killer, and your boredom with the routines of life will be cured. It's great to see the characters in the movie (Allen, his wife, Dianne Keaton, and their friends, played by Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston) run from their everyday lives and play amateur sleuth with as much fervor and excitement as they do here. Manhattan Murder Mystery is for pure enjoyment, more along the lines of Midnight in Paris than Annie Hall. But even when Allen isn't at his most philosophical, he's still good for a parade of insults, complaints, and criticisms, which, if your sense of humor is in tune with his, will come across as both insightful and hilarious. I found myself laughing frequently in the film, but I was also intrigued by what's surprisingly a superb mystery. There's a scene near the climax involving tape recorders that is as clever as anything found in the greatest Agatha Christie stories. Good Woody Allen emits a sense of pure joy in the viewer that few movies could ever hope to produce. Though it's playful fare, Manhattan Murder Mystery gave the classic Woody Allen effect.

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