Thursday, July 25, 2013
THURSDAY THROWBACK: Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Martin Landau plays Judah, one of the masters of the universe, an ophthalmologist who, as the film opens, is being honored at a ceremony. Judah has a comfortable life as a wealthy eye doctor, four acres of land in Connecticut, and a family who adores him, including his doting wife. He is also in the middle of a love affair with Dolores (Angelica Huston), which has been going on for years now. Dolores and Judah have shared nights and vacations and beds with each other for so long now that Dolores can no longer stand the secrecy. She cites the promises Judah made to her, and of course Judah waves them off as nonsense. "Embellishments" he says dismissively. Dolores disagrees, and plans on telling Judah's wife about them so she might clear the air. Is it to try and have Judah for her own? Perhaps. Judah opposes this idea, of course, because his roots are so deep with his wife of twenty-plus years. Dolores inches closer and closer to bursting Judah's bubble, so much so that in a conversation with his brother, Jack (Sam Waterston), the discussion of murder is brought about. What an absurd idea to Judah initially, but as the vice tightens around his life, his desperation takes over.
As much as I enjoy a great number of Woody Allen's comedy efforts, I find all of his semi-serious pictures much more compelling. Match Point was perhaps his most serious, no comedy whatsoever, a dark noir thriller that was a masterful bit of storytelling. While Crimes and Misdemeanors has comedic elements, the bulk of the story is very serious and quite unsettling. Landau's performance is wonderful and his character truly despicable. But here he is getting away with everything in the end. I get the same sort of vibe from Blue Jasmine which seems both serious and amusing, much like life itself. These are the moments when Allen is his strongest in my opinion.