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Crimes & Misdemeanors (1989)

Let there be no doubt about it, Woody Allen does insecurity well. In another New York tale for which he is infamous, successful Ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) is having an affair with airline stewardess Dolores Paley (Angelica Huston) until her feelings for him get the better of her and she tries to contact his wife to let her know of her husbands' indiscretion. At the same time that Judah is wringing his hands at what he can do to get out of this situation, spare his wife the shame and save his career, we also meet Clifford Stern (Woody Allen) who is married, unhappily to Wendy (Joanna Gleason).


The intertwining stories of both Judah and Clifford are completed by the tale of Lester, Clifford's brother-in-law, a successful, rich and handsome TV Producer, who has hired the listless Clifford to direct a documentary on his life.



Allen's view of complicated, contemporary and modern lives in urban chaos is elegant in design and regularly cutting of both the time in which we live and the people that we are told by society to admire. Allen's view of the world, seen through the flared lens of New York City translates well anywhere and the problems that Clifford experiences are pedestrian and everyday. The comedy is first class and direct, though sparse - "the last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty"


This is a thorough study of life in psychological peril, taken from several perspectives, each one more complicated than the last and the film is riddled with lessons to be learnt and philosophies that the characters themselves need to understand more than the viewer. A very special film, defined by a great artist, crafting at the peak of his talent. This is Woody Allen on a very good day.

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