Monday, September 16, 2013

200 of 1001 Movies: Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Did it out do my current favorite Woody Allen movies Midnight in Paris? Not quite, though it gives it a high run for it's money in my opinion. I just preferred the fantasy vibe of the other. Crimes and Misdemeanors really did surprise me. I had heard it was one of the better reviewed one, and there is a reason. It's not only pondering of life and relationships, but also the characters own morality and faith. It's one of Woody Allen's more ambitious movie.

Summary: Judah's life is unraveling when his mistress,Dolores, is fed up with hiding their relationship and wants to reveal it to his wife, Miriam. She may have underestimated how far Judah is willing to go to stop their relationship from being revealed on top of the things she knows about his business. In another story that is occurring throughout the movie, Cliff finds his marriage to Wendy suffering. The situation is worsened by her arrogant brother who has hired him to help make a documentary about himself, which he insist is to help Cliff's career. Cliff does find a benefit to doing the documentary though, and that is his growing feelings for his coworker, Halley.

Acting: The acting is really good, and Woody Allen's strongest character that he portrays, Cliff. Cliff seems so self-assured about at least his faith, but the twist in that and his relationships make for a good ending that is left up in the air about how this will affect him. Martin Landau is Judah and I think he does a great job at getting inside the character's head and exploring the turmoil raging between his faith and ethics regarding how he's going to deal with Dolores' confrontation. Angelica Huston also does a good job with Dolores and in the short time she is on screen she makes you feel for her despite her unlikable circumstances. Mia Farrow is also Halley and shows that she makes sense considering her charm with luring the guys in. Then there is Alan Alda as Cliff's brother in law, Lester, and he does a great at making the guy comedic and unlikable.

Filming: I always like the quality of Allen's film. They are very warm in nature with a romantic glow that is suiting to the romantic, but dark climate found in is movies. This movie definitely doesn't shy away from getting dark, and by the end it leaves us with the appropriate questions from the characters lives about our ethics, faith and relationships with thought provoking questions. You also have the very characteristic Woody humor and the shots that add to the funny with silence and straight forward shots.

Plot: The plot weaves itself together well. While there are two different stories happening they align each other very well. They are about two different things. One where a guy seems to feel no guilt at his wrong doings and shortcomings and one where a guy can't seem to get his mind off of them. On both sides good by paralleling themes are explored and by the end the way the characters wind up seem to balance our overall feelings toward the guys. How they approach to solve their problems are very different. You could have easily made two movies from this, but it turns out perfect.

If you're going to start with any Woody Allen to watch then Crimes and Misdemeanors is the safest bet to recommend. It has an all around strong working to the movie. The story is good, the characters are well developed, the film is well shot, and you have ideas that stick with you afterward. It also leaves you with a bit of suspense and romance.

Rating 9 of 10.

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) on IMDb

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