HomeReviewsBlu-ray Review: “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989)

Blu-ray Review: “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989)

At the end of Woody Allen’s most successful decade, Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) represent a near-perfect combination of Allen’s writing, directing, and acting skills.

This might be unexpected for those who primarily associate Allen with comedy; while the film does have its humorous moments, the comedy doesn’t diminish the underlying darkness of the story.

However, this is where everything seems to align.

While Allen’s attempts at serious, intense dramas can sometimes miss the mark, Crimes and Misdemeanors successfully captures a substantial and weighty tone in its nod to Dostoevsky.

The movie also incorporates Allen’s trademark wry and rueful comedic style.

Although Allen’s portrayal as a documentary filmmaker may not deviate significantly from his other roles, the obstacles he faces add a layer of sadness to his humor.

Blu-ray Review: Crimes and Misdemeanors

Crimes and Misdemeanors is a compelling showcase of Allen’s directorial expertise, an aspect of his career often criticized or overlooked.

The film’s construction is notably refined, seamlessly interweaving parallel narratives and gradually highlighting their thematic similarities.

While intricate visual parallels are not typically associated with Allen, they are skillfully employed in this work.

The story introduces the moral dilemma of ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal, a man who is confronted with his transgressions despite achieving professional success and having a loving family.

His affair with Dolores Paley, a flight attendant, has lost its allure, and Dolores, driven by a mix of vindictiveness and guilt, threatens to expose the truth to his wife.

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Crimes and Misdemeanors

Also, see Eight Reasons Why You Should Dump That LCD Television and Buy an HD Projector.

Filled with panic, Judah reaches out to his brother, Jack (Jerry Orbach), who organizes a hitman to deal with Dolores.

The subsequent sequence is disquietingly matter-of-fact; it possesses a methodical, almost mundane quality that renders a woman’s murder an ordinary occurrence.

Later, when Judah visits Dolores’s apartment to retrieve some incriminating evidence, the scene evokes a similar tone, presenting Dolores’s lifeless body and Judah’s subdued reaction in a flat manner.

His ensuing emotional state is considerably more distressed, but this is primarily attributed to his altered self-perception rather than her murder.

The ensuing moral introspection humorously revolves around self-absorption, depicting an existential crisis that callously disregards the worth of another person’s life.

Allen juxtaposes this narrative with Cliff Stern’s (played by Allen himself), a filmmaker aspiring to create meaningful, serious documentaries but compelled to settle for a fluff piece on his brother-in-law, Lester (Alan Alda), to make ends meet.

Lester is humorously pretentious, yet Cliff is no better at self-awareness, editing together a pathetic attempt to humiliate Lester and awkwardly pursuing Halley Reed (Mia Farrow), the project’s producer.

Like many of Allen’s protagonists, Cliff can be endearingly self-deprecating, enjoying Indian takeout and screening Singin’ in the Rain on 16mm, but he also overestimates himself.

The scene in which he discovers the demise of his passion project’s subject and then tries to advance towards Halley is cringe-inducing.

Disregarding the fact that Cliff is married, albeit unhappily, to Wendy (Joanna Gleason), he, like other characters, exhibits self-centeredness during moments of crisis.

“Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989)
Crimes and Misdemeanors

Woody Allen’s astute exploration of his characters’ moral fiber and the audience’s perception of morality results in a compelling work.

The film contemplates where these characters’ actions lie on the spectrum of right and wrong and questions whether it even matters.

In the final scene, as Judah and Cliff’s storylines converge, Allen emphasizes that happiness doesn’t necessarily correlate with morality. In Allen’s worldview, there is no clear-cut answer, but at least bitter laughter can be found.

After several successful Woody Allen Blu-ray releases, Fox/MGM is withdrawing from distributing his catalog titles on Blu-ray, transferring Crimes and Misdemeanors and the upcoming Broadway Danny Rose to Twilight Time.

Although this release is similar to what Fox/MGM would have offered, it comes at a significantly higher price.

The 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer closely resembles previous Allen Blu-rays. The level of detail is commendable, the image is relatively clean, and the clarity marks a notable improvement over the DVD, although it may not be groundbreaking.

The grain is well-rendered, providing a film-like aesthetic. Sven Nykvist’s slightly burnished cinematography is charmingly depicted, with warm autumnal browns that are not overly saturated.

While a few speckles may be noticeable, they are not overly distracting. There are no apparent signs of digital tampering.

The 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack clearly presents the classical and jazz tunes, and the dialogue comes across as adequately crisp.

This one is basic, similar to many of Allen’s home video releases.

Twilight Time includes the standard music and effects track, which may be less valuable than usual as the film lacks a traditional score.

The original theatrical trailer and a booklet featuring an essay by Julie Kirgo are included.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, the Twilight Time’s Titus Blu-ray rates:

The film (out of ****): ***1/2

Film Elements Sourced: ***

Video Transfer: ***

Audio: ***

New Extra Features: *

Extra Features Overall: *

Twilight Time

1989 / Color / 1.85:1 / 104 min / $29.95

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Ashish Maharjan
Ashish Maharjan
Ashish, a seasoned editor and author for World Cinema Paradise, intricately weaves creativity with precision in his writing, establishing himself as a prolific content creator. Renowned for clarity and captivating storytelling, Ashish has cultivated a devoted readership, driven by his unwavering passion for words and commitment to excellence.

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