#9 Crimes and Misdemeanors

Dear Rache,

Last week, I found out that Woody Allen recently released a new film, You will meet a tall, dark stranger, and is in fact working a new one, Midnight in Paris, and I was promptly sent over the moon. Woody Allen, you see, is bar none my favorite filmmaker in all the world, and it would  do me great honor to get you acquainted with him.

I thought we’d start with Crimes and Misdemeanors, something Allen made in 1989, and which stars himself alongside then partner Mia Farrow, Martin Landau, and Bill Bernstein. The movie’s plot, as with every other Allen film, is very complex but may be summed up as such: It is about a group of philandering intellectuals struggling to coexist with one another.

I am no expert, but I have observed a formula in Woody Allen’s films. The lead is a stuttering, blubbering slob. Almost all characters have a codependent relationship with their therapist. Husbands and wives cheat. Girls barely out of adolescence fall for dirty old men (often played by Woody himself). The idea of a perfect present for a child is a book about speakeasies. Strange men molest poor, unsuspecting women by sitting on them and then going to the bathroom. It sounds crazy, and it is. Very much.

Still, Rache, I have to say, that for all its insanity and for all the psychological dysfunctionality of its characters, sometimes, there is actually nothing that I want more than to live in a Woody Allen movie. Somehow, for me, his movies are terribly romantic; they make me want to fall in love. You see, what I like best about them is that they are a world in their own. A la Tolkien, Woody Allen has so masterfully created a whole new world with a whole new language and a whole new culture. It is a world where people still watch black and white films and discuss literature and philosophy. A world where people talk insanely fast and no one bothers to stop for breath. A world where all homes have shelves and shelves of books (Everyone is a reader!). A world where Emily Dickinson’s poetry is recited at dinners just because, and everyone understands. A world where we have jazz for background music almost all the time. It is a world where people are rarely happy, where marriages and friendships fall apart and dreams are shattered, but it is, nonetheless, a beautiful world. Contemporary critics often say that Woody Allen has a weak grasp on reality, that his characters never sound like real people and that his movies never look real, but sometimes I think I fit right in his little world. His movies are quirky alright, but they tug at something deep inside you. For all their outrageousness, they speak truly about life.

Quotable Quote: “Don’t listen to what your schoolteachers tell you. Don’t pay attention. Just see what they look like and you’ll know what life is gonna be like.” –Clifford (Allen) to his niece

Rating: Watch this movie but do not stop here. Watch Manhattan as well, and Annie Hall! You’ll fall in love!

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About 500 Movies for Rache

Rache is one of our friends, who, though smart and wonderful in every way imaginable, is particularly deficient in terms of her film knowledge. Now no friend of ours can be allowed to go on believing that movies such as Batang X and Little Mermaid 2 represent the height of cinematic excellence. And so, it is with a mixture of compassion and messianic complex, that we've decided to watch and review 500 movies for Rache, until March 31, 2011. There are three of us behind this blog, and we have decided that there is only one way to go about the movie-picking and reviewing process: indiscriminately. We will sit through the campy and the compelling, the indie films and the blockbusters, the critics' darlings and the straight-to-video. This is how much we love you Rachel. This is also - let's face it - how much we love ourselves. By March of 2011, we hope to have a good cross-section of cinematic genres, traditions, cultures and periods. (But in all likelihood, it will be mostly Hollywood fare). So Rache, our dear, pretty, wonderful, cinematically-clueless friend, and the many others just like her, THIS BLOG IS FOR YOU.
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