34. “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, Woody Allen (1989)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Crimes and Misdemeanors

dir. Woody Allen scr. Woody Allen cin. Sven Nykvist with Caroline Aaron, Alan Alda, Woody Allen, Claire Bloom, Mia Farrow, Joanna Gleason, Anjelica Huston, Martin Landau, Jenny Nichols, Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston

In 100 words:Misdemeanors is Allen’s most perfect film and best representation of his nihilistic world view, a deeply philosophical but never sanctimonious examination of the presence of God and conscience. It’s a cold movie: Bergmanesque not only in its themes or even the look provided by Nykvist, but also his formalist camera work, editing rhythm and structure and classical music selection. Still, it’s unmistakably Allen’s voice. His dialogue is rich with sardonic humor and playful wit rarely topped elsewhere, and his cast is wholly terrific. Landau’s monologue justifying his action ranks among the most excellent scenes in Allen’s filmography. A career peak.

Other Movies for Context: Interestingly enough, the closeness of the material to Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment reminded me mostly of Lav Diaz’s Norte, The End of History (2013), although that is formally more rigorous than this. Elsewhere in Allen’s huge filmography, this stands among his finest films: Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Annie Hall (1977), and Husbands and Wives (1991), proving that serious Allen is most interesting to me than seriocomic Allen.

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