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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 6.25%
Total Crap: 3.13%

1 review, 26 user ratings

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Crimes and Misdemeanors
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by Jason Whyte

"Tragedy...Plus Time."
5 stars

It's rare these days to see a character study where the main character breaks down after he does something wrong, and then turns around and redeems himself by realizing that his beliefs don't have to mirror someone else's; they just have to be his own. God looks down on everyone, a character in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors", is told. God watches your every move. "God is a luxury I can't afford" he replies.

"Crimes And Misdemeanors" tells the story of this man, Judah (Martin Landau) who is at the end of his rope. He's cheated on his loving wife Miriam (Clare Bloom) of many years, and his mistress (Anjelica Houston) has had enough of hiding. She doesn't want to be the "fling" anymore, and wants to confess to Miriam about their affair. This doesn't sit well with Judah, who believes that if this information is unfolded it will destroy everything around him, from his wife and home, to his career as an opthalmologist. His brother (Jerry Orbach) has connections to some people who can fix the situation; through him and without either of them being involved, she can be "gotten rid of" for the right amount of money.

This isn't all that is happening. A parallel story involves Clifford Stern (Woody Allen), a small time filmmaker who accepts a job to do a documentary on his wife's brother (Alan Alda), to make a documentary that is just about him and nothing else, basically, a PR or a glorified trailer of his existence. Clifford, however has a pet project on his hands: a biography on a writer/philosopher whose beliefs are strong and valid about human life. When Clifford meets up with a PA (Mia Farrow), she tells him that there may be a chance of the show being aired, but they have to work on the Alda documentary first.

The stories collide in themes and ideas, and have an immense amount of strength to them. When Judah (Sam Waterston) speaks to a rabbi who is on the verge of losing his eyesight and provides his own opinion through his religious and personal beliefs, I was amazed by what was happening both in the film and in my mind; this film will really make you ask yourself what your own beliefs are, if you could live with making a decision such as having someone murdered. Judah's personal conflict is with his brother and his parents, who, in flashbacks, are shown as people who believe God sees everything, that if you make a mistake you will be punished for it.

Clifford's story is interesting too, as some critic's reviews I have read brush it aside as filler, but I think it is just as harrowing, but not as sad and thrilling as the Judah story, but I understand its intentions: missed opportunity. Clifford's entire life in the film feels like something he wanted to do but never followed through with. Or that he enjoyed the simpler things in life yet never spent any on more important things. Like the scenes where Clifford and his niece watched old classic movies and had fun together, while the niece's mother (Caroline Aaron) is lonely and without love.

"Crimes and Misdemeanors" is a great, shattering film. It is set out not only to entertain (it certainly has its laughs), but to provoke, to make the viewer ponder their own existence, their own opinions and their beliefs. And old friend of mine once said: "People have consequences for their own actions. That is not my opinion, that is fact. You can't disagree with this." To which I said, "Well, that's your opinion."

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originally posted: 04/01/04 18:49:44
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User Comments

10/22/15 David Hollingsworth Profound, intelligent study of people. 5 stars
12/28/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Amazing! 5 stars
3/11/06 sbpat21 great 5 stars
1/10/06 Indrid Cold Possibly the least funny Allen movie, but also the most profound. 4 stars
6/03/05 John Aster Habig Woody does best when he transcends romantic relations + goes into life, religion, +politics 5 stars
4/28/04 Kirsty jones BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
4/07/04 john Allen in top form (and so is Alda) - funny stuff 4 stars
4/02/04 Jack Sommersby Intelligent and affecting (if a bit too studied). Alda is sensationally funny. 4 stars
6/18/03 Andrew Callaway Incredibly good... if you have just seen Bananas this is a new Woody Allen. 5 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon Great movie. Alan Alda is hilarious as the arrogant, stupid jackass. 5 stars
5/08/03 Andy T Not my favorite, but still great 4 stars
3/27/03 Ionicera honest, thought-provoking 5 stars
1/04/03 Christina Wu the best of Woody Allen 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Pretty good, but I hate Landau anyway 4 stars
9/18/02 Ryan great 4 stars
1/10/02 R.W. Welch Dark but absorbing tragi-comedy, largely carried by Landau's convincing portrayal. 4 stars
10/08/01 Adam Possibly Allens best,and that's saying something.Brilliant and sublime. Top 100 of all time 5 stars
9/14/01 Albie My favorite Allen film. This could be the basis of a Sociology course. Make you think. 5 stars
8/07/01 E-Funk A meaningful film. Not the average Woody Allen fare. Beautiful story-telling. 5 stars
6/09/01 micah wrote 60 pages on this film. serious stuff. highly reccomended. unlike any other allen film 5 stars
5/03/01 Spetters This is Allen at his worst! Boring crap, only Landau shines. 2 stars
5/02/01 Ryan Emmett A truly great film. When you next say 'I could kill him/her' you should think of this film 5 stars
11/29/00 Cristopher Revilla a unique film, intersting too 4 stars
2/07/00 Tyson Stewart deep in thought provoking drama and comedy-excellent! 5 stars
9/27/99 steve marken This is the best moive of the 80's and one of the best Woody allen movies 5 stars
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  02-Jul-1989 (PG-13)

  02-Feb-1990 (12)

  02-Feb-1990 (PG)

Directed by
  Woody Allen

Written by
  Woody Allen

  Woody Allen
  Martin Landau
  Claire Bloom
  Anjelica Huston
  Alan Alda
  Jenny Nichols
  Joanna Gleason

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