Date: 24 Jul 2000
Review: Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989
Ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) has had an long-standing affair with Dolores (Anjelica Huston), and now her patience has waned and she threatens to expose him and ruin his life if he doesn't get a divorce. His brother suggests resolving the problem by having Dolores murdered. Judah morally digests before agreeing and following through with a paid assassin. With Judah, Woody Allen probes the depths of human existence and how the greatest punishments can be self-inflicted (guilt). In an eventually convergent story, documentary filmmaker Clifford Stern (Allen) is trying to make a film on a philosophy professor who he strongly believes in. However, to pay the bills he gets commissioned to make a portrait of a successful TV producer and pompous brother-in-law Lester (Alan Alda). Lester represents everything that Clifford despises in the world - false bravado of perceived talent and success through self-marketing savvy as opposed to genuine skill.
Woody Allen is one of the most prolific directors the United States has ever produced and the balance of pathos and humor in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" might be comparable to Chaplin's "City Lights". Avoiding quick cuts by following his characters around the room and to close-ups, Allen creates a unique reality that is devoid in his other films. Landau is excellent and the film reverberates with moral dilemmas that the viewer can envision themselves pondering. I think this is his best film. out of