The Invisible Man
The Way Back
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
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As Woody showed his strong interest in Dostoevsky, several motifs were hidden in this piece, which developed into three of his later works: "Match Point" (2005), "Casandra's Dream" (2007) and "Irrational Man" (2015). The two storylines are separated but connected. The smart transitions of either the movies showing in the theatre or the footage and voiceover of the documentary really make the narrative structure much richer. Not to mention the clever lines and the cinematic look.
Sometimes Woody Allen is capable of balancing his wry but zany sense of humor with very dark subject matter. This is possibly the most notable example as he grapples with questions about morality and faith usually only explored with depth by Russian novelists and playwrights. It is no surprise that this is considered one of his best films as it shows him actually committing to telling a dark and tragic tale and following it through to it's disheartening and bitter ending. This film does not have the issues that Allen's weaker films do as it doesn't just feel like a group of relatively funny jokes with a vague plot fashioned around them.
Respected ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal, Martin Landau, is viewed as a good man by his devoted wife Miriam, Claire Bloom, and the various members of his wealthy social circle. His position in society and relationship is threatened when his mistress of two years, air hostess Dolores Paley, Anjelica Huston, decides that she wants to reveal their affair to his wife and have them discuss who he will choose to be with going forward. He wants to end their affair as she becomes increasingly clingy and threatens to reveal details about questionable financial dealings he made in the past while he believes revealing the affair would permanently damage his relationship with his wife. When pushed he has his brother Jack, Jerry Orbach, use his connections to the mafia to have her murdered and feels a great deal of guilt afterwards but his crime is not discovered and is misattributed to a drifter who committed other crimes. Meanwhile documentary director Cliff Stern, Woody Allen, mocks his brother-in-law, shallow television executive Lester, Alan Alda, when hired to direct a documentary about him while chasing Lester's employee Halley Reed, Mia Farrow, despite being married.
The film is famous for it's ending which refutes Dostoyevsky's ‘Crime and Punishment' by stating that somebody can get away with murder and continue to live as a normal, happy person who is not destroyed by their guilt. This is a horrifying thought as we want to believe that human morality is somehow intrinsic and any person who is not ‘insane' understands that killing somebody for their own gain and facing no punishment for it is unthinkable. We feel sympathy for a reprehensible man in this film because he goes through the motions of feeling guilt and even has a born again moment but he makes no real attempt to atone for his sins and is able to continue living his life as a man loved by all around him. He is not weighed down by the thought of this woman losing her life as a result of his selfish desires and does not value honesty and real emotion in the relationships he has with his wife and the people who look up to him.
All of this is complemented by the character of Stern's other brother-in-law rabbi Ben, Sam Waterston, who is a morally pure man but faces punishment in the form of loss of his sight. Seeing the example of a man who encouraged him to do the right thing facing a permanent disability may have encouraged Rosenthal to continue going down his immoral path as he will not be rewarded for good deeds and if he does the right thing he may be doubly punished. Allen plays with our minds cleverly in this film as we expect Rosenthal to get caught as almost every man or woman who commits a ‘perfect murder' in a film noir does but the simultaneous emptiness and relief of not getting caught does not cause him pain but allows him to move on with his life.
He also smartly lets us come to care about Paley before she is murdered as flashbacks to the beginning of their relationship have a hopefulness to them that makes her inevitable murder emotionally devastating. Landau and Huston have a convincing chemistry as they run along the beach together and discuss his sexual prowess and for a moment you begin to believe that they really could make it together. Then we jump back to the present and see how it has all come crashing down and it is disheartening to see a man destroy the dreams of a mistress he has clearly been leading on while seeming self pitying and smug. His editor Susan E. Morse deserves most of the credit for this as she drops these flashbacks in without disrupting the flow of the film and adds important subtext to other scenes.
I am a big fan of almost every single movie of Woody Allen but this movie has some scenes that I never forget. They have kept in my memory like as words in a stone.
Allen's intuition has barely gone off track, he is to-the-point, sharp and poetic in his steps.
Crimes And Misdemeanors
Allen's crime drama too is a love story. He just can't help it. And you cannot hate that about him. It is simply inspirational and adorable. The writer and director Woody Allen is one romantic fellow. He can and does romanticize the idea of murdering someone. That foreplay of God that he imparts on us as wisdom and practicality that zaps you like a lightning bolt, is his version of making sense out of a narration. And no one writes like him. So what if there is a character similar to him, always, running around the screen. No one has produced these many avant-garde ideas so exceptionally and convincingly that his filmography starts calling itself out for a specific taste.
A sense of humor is a second thing, the sense of romance should be your priority when you jump in on his train of thought. There is an incoherent rush through the film. Either accelerated by subtle humor or self-mockery or intense drama or plot moving forward with an incredible pace. Either way, the film keeps you at the edge of your toe, instead of being calm and present. It is present for it thinks a lot.
Each character is told to decide repetitively on the screen. Which makes you, the viewer, understand, empathize and even nod to the decisions they would go for or lead towards. By then, it wouldn't matter what they choose to do or be. The journey, the pain, the pressure that they make "punish" themselves with redeems their credit points in front of our eyes. It is a story that is far from gangster genre no matter how familiar their action grows. Crimes And Misdemeanors also gets the "close calls" right and like no one. What they do, what he has done, is that he didn't keep any.
It's Woody Allen so it's obviously going to be interesting. And this picture is no different. Some really great stuff here
Jesus Christ it's incredible how full of himself that one director is talking his ideas into his recorder. There's some pretty good dark humor in this. The setup to that one bound-up sex story was great. I love how the movie goes from one character's story and problems to the others in a very smooth fashion.
I can't even imagine a person in real life who acts this pretentious and full of himself as Alan Alda does in the movie. I think that dinner table scene with his past relatives was insightful as hell.
This is a deeper movie than what is initially seen. It's a philosophical and life take on what is right and wrong, what needs to be done and what could have happened. I'm going to have to watch this movie again.
Perhaps his BEST film.
I have seen this 3 times (once every 10 years or so) since it came out. A very disturbing and funny and compelling movie.
Nothing fancy; the situations are realistic and presented in a well crafted film. I especially loved the editing and minimal usage of music; I believe Woody can bring up any genes he wants and blends it well with humor.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of the better Woody Allen films with an odd structure as its dramedy part and crime storyline are too different from each other, but the acting is strong across the board with the standout one being deservedly Oscar nominated Martin Landau, the crime storyline is excellent, the ending is terrific and the movie features typically strong, interesting dialogue from the director.