Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen) - 1989

This movie is about two stories that do not seem to have anything in common until the protagonists meet at a wedding at the end.

Optometrist Martin Landau has a problem.  His girl friend (Anjelica Huston) wants to meet his wife (Claire Bloom).  Landau's good conscience (Sam Waterston) tells him to come clean with his wife.  His brother and bad conscience (Jerry Orbach 1935-2004) tells him to eliminate the problem.  In the end, the Waterston character loses his battle with his ocular disease.

Documentary filmmaker Woody also has a problem.  He wants to end his loveless marriage and get together with soul-mate Mia Farrow.  Mia likes Woody but is also attracted to megalomaniac Alan Alda who wears pink sweaters.  Alda hires Woody to make his biopic but gets upset when Woody's first cut compares Alda to Mussolini.  Go figure.

Woody uses several of his movie-making tricks including ample tie-ins with black-and-white movie clips seen during his many trips to the local cinema with his niece (Jenny Nichols) and Mia.  There is also a very creative scene where Landau goes back to his childhood home and has a conversation with his family at the dinner table, interrupting their discussion of religion versus truth. 

As usual, the dialog is excellent.  There were two comments that seemed to be the running themes: 1. "History is written by the winners" and 2. "We define ourselves by the choices we make."  There are no easy answers in Woody's movies.  [JAM 3/3/2010]

 ["To me it's a damn shame that the universe doesn't have any God or meaning, and yet only when you can accept that can you then go on to lead what these people call a Christian life - that is, a decent, moral life.  You can only lead it if you acknowledge what you're up against to begin with and shuck off all the fairy tales that lead you to make choices in life that you're making not really for moral reasons but for taking down a big score in the afterlife.  So the film inspired a lot of talk in that area and I'm glad.  I'm glad it wasn't regarded just as a suspense murder mystery ..." Conversations with Woody Allen February 2006]