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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989)

A well respected, successful ophthalmologist and humanitarian (Martin Landau) finds himself in a dilemma when his emotionally unstable mistress (Anjelica Huston) threatens to expose their affair to his wife (Claire Bloom) as well as some dubious financial dealings. Meanwhile, a struggling documentary film maker (Woody Allen) reluctantly takes a job profiling his famous brother in law (Alan Alda), a television producer, for a TV show. Both the ophthalmologist and the film maker must make difficult moral choices which will determine the rest of their lives. The tone and theme of Woody Allen's film, one of his best, is made obvious by two lines in the film, "We define ourselves by our choices" and "We are the sum total of our choices". Can we commit an offense against another person or even ourselves, whether a major crime or a small misdemeanor, and go unpunished even if no one but us knows? It's not a particularly original premise (Dostoyevsky among others got there first) but Allen's posing of the moral dilemma is provocative and well played out. The large cast includes Mia Farrow, Daryl Hannah, Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, Joanna Gleason, Frances Conroy and Caroline Aaron.

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