Saturday, May 17, 2014

Crimes and Misdemeanors

If The Coen Brothers and Woody Allen joined consciences and then made a movie, that movie would be Crimes and Misdemeanors. And I mean that in the best way possible. Woody Allen is the king of comedy in my mind. There scenes in his 1977 film, Annie Hall, that make me laugh harder than practically anything else. I love his brand of cynical New York humor. It really clicks with me. What I particularly like, is when he acts in his own movies. No one delivers his dialogue better than himself. His role in Hannah and Her Sisters is one of the funniest and more brilliant comic performances I may have ever seen. I really do love his comedies. It's his dramatic stuff that I'm not such a fan of. I was incredibly disappointed with his newest movie, Blue Jasmine. It felt very stuffy and seemed to take itself a little too seriously. Although many people love it, I was more than let down with his 2005 film, Match Point. Although I'd be willing to rewatch it and see what I think now. I was a little worried about Crimes and Misdemeanors. It was supposed to be slightly more dramatic than his earlier stuff. Woody's drama work has never wowed me, so I was very cautious when going into this movie. I shouldn't have been. Crimes and Misdemeanors blends taught drama and side splitting comedy like few films I've ever seen. It works so well on so many different levels. Allen knows exactly what he wants to say, and boy, does he say it well. It's about a successful ophthalmologist, Dr.Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau), who is having an affair with an unstable women named Dolores (Anjelica Huston). Things with Dolores are going south for him, and she is starting to threaten his own life and marriage, so Judah must do something drastic. And do it fast. Meanwhile, a struggling documentary filmmaker, Clifford Stern (Woody Allen), has fallen in love with another women (Mia Farrow). In a nutshell, Crimes and Misdemeanors is about infidelity (a reoccurring theme in Allen's movies), morality, and the human condition. But Allen deals with these films in a joking and wonderful manner, never taking himself too seriously. That's what makes this film work so well. It reminded me of a Coen Brothers film in the sense that it develops a near perfect balance between a comedy flick and a dark crime thriller. Similar to something like Fargo, Barton Fink, or Blood Simple. There are moments, for example, when Clifford Stern makes a documentary on Alan Alda's character. A phony television producer, Lester. The film put's Lester in a negative light. This angers him so much he fires Clifford. You see him later walking in a park with Mia Farrow saying "What was he so angry for? You'd no one had ever compared him to Mussolini before." It's a very funny scene. But it's paired with murder, adultery, suicide, and serious philosophical questions. In the hands of a more inept director and writer, this would turn into an uneven mess. With Woody Allen in charge, it becomes a something truly great. Martin Landau's plight seems dark and even claustrophobic. The plight of Woody Allen's character is like something out of a Woody Allen movie. Who knew they'd go together so well? Crimes and Misdemeanors asks "Who is right in this situation?" "Who is the hero?" "Is anyone to be trusted?" The answer to those questions? Well, I'll let you watch the movie.  Overall, Crimes and Misdemeanors is a fantastic outing by the neurotic master of comedic infidelity, Woody Allen. Great acting, a sharp screenplay, and terrific direction make this a modern classic. I'm sure it's one for everyone will enjoy. Me? I'm just looking forward to when I can watch this again. Remember! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Happy Viewing.        

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