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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2014/ 14 Adar I, 5774

Woody Allen's maturity problem, Or: Confessions of a former wannabe sophisticate

By Meghan Daum


Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung, Austria


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Several months ago, I watched Woody Allen's 1979 film "Manhattan" for the first time since I was in my 20s and for perhaps the 10th time total.

"He adored New York City," Allen's character, Isaac Davis, says in voice-over in the opening lines. "He idolized it all out of proportion."

Once upon a time, I idolized this movie all out of proportion. Though I was too young to see it when it was first released, I became obsessed with its Gershwin soundtrack and black-and-white, wide-screen cinematography in high school, right around the time I began romanticizing some mythic notion of becoming a New York sophisticate.

And in my mind, no one was more sophisticated than the high-strung, Sontagian journalist played by Diane Keaton, who dates a married Columbia professor named Yale before she falls for Isaac.

What could be better than wandering around the Guggenheim on weekends and dining at Elaine's and casually mentioning that Mahler is totally overrated? To me, these weren't just characters, they were templates for my future self. They were the exact opposite of suburban teenagers like me. This was a movie for and about the kind of grown-up I wanted to be.

But when I saw it this last time, I was only a few minutes into it before I began feeling embarrassed for my younger self. The dialogue I'd practically memorized in my youth now made me cringe in places. Sparkling though it was, Allen's efforts to poke fun at the pretensions of urban intellectuals were far less subtle than I'd remembered.

Keaton's character pronounced Van Gogh "Van Gock." She used terms like "textural" and "negative capability" and sounded like a first-year art student rather than a seasoned journalist. Allen's signature ticks and stammers made his performance more cartoonish than nerdy cool.

I suddenly realized I'd had everything backward. These characters were not sophisticated as much as they were expressions of what a young, relatively naive person imagines sophistication to be. This was not a movie for adults but for precocious teenagers. Teenagers a little like the 17-year-old in the movie, Tracy, who, in a storyline that would foreshadow Allen's life, was 42-year-old Isaac's other girlfriend.



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Seventeen was the age I was when my enthusiasm for "Manhattan" probably reached its peak. Even so, I was too busy idolizing Keaton's character to think much about whether statutory rape was a factor between Tracy and Isaac. But watching the film today, I was struck not just by the creepiness of that relationship but also by the utter nonchalance with which the film's other characters greeted it.

"I don't think she's too young," says Yale's earnest, seemingly sensible wife as they arrive home from a double date in which Isaac's girlfriend has announced that she has homework to do. Even Keaton's character, a feminist erupting with opinions, essentially regards Isaac's relationship with the girl as an endearing quirk.

Granted, attitudes about sexual power dynamics were different in 1979. It's telling that most reviews of "Manhattan" saw the relationship as titillating — even funny — rather than abusive. Still, Allen, realist (albeit sometimes magical realist) auteur though he's purported to be, has always been more the mastermind of his own peculiar fantasy genre, one in which struggling artists live in multimillion-dollar lofts, people use terms like "negative capability" while keeping a straight face, and middle-aged male nebbishes are irresistible to women of all ages.



Given those motifs — and given the degree to which they've become more exaggerated over the course of his career — you could argue that the adolescent energy Allen brought to early films like "Bananas" and "Take the Money and Run" never really matured into a bona fide adult sensibility. There's a perverse logic, then, to his fixation on teenage girls. He's in many ways still a teenager himself.

I'm not going to dip my toe too far into the roiling waters stirred up by Allen's daughter's statement that he sexually abused her as a child. There are already far more opinions floating around than facts. But I do think there's something to be said for the ways in which the scandal forces his fans, particularly fans of "classics" such as "Manhattan," to take a hard look at what it was we found so captivating about the worlds he created.

Whatever it was I thought "Manhattan" explained and promised, whatever it was I thought I wanted, it was clearly out of proportion to what was actually there.


Previously:

Covering (up) Lena Dunham

Humbletalk --- it's just another way to say 'smug'

Zeitgeist-o-meter, 2013

The Oxford English Dictionary's literal problem

Inglorious Twitter hoax should impart lesson

A chilling lack of grown-ups

The danger of banning laptops or iPads during takeoff and landing

Real beauty, Dove, really?

I 'like' me, I really 'like' me

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Meghan Daum is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.


© 2013,the Los Angeles Times

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