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Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
The movie, as I see it
In the beginning there was Israel. Then there was Judea, ans Summaria. After Assyria conquered Summaria, all that was left was Judea. Judea was populated by the two remaining tribes, The tribe of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin. Later, based on a false rumor, the tribe of Judah exterminated the tribe of Benjamin. I have restated part of the Old Testament, a part which Mr. Allen appears to be very familiar with. To me, the real story of C&M, is about the tribe Judah, as represented by Landau and Orbach, and the tribe Benjamin, represented by Alda and Waterston. Now, as was then, the audience finds that Judah still has blood on its hands. This time, its a paramour, Ms Paley, also a Jew. So its still a matter of Jew killing Jew. Say what you want about Lester, but he has not killed anyone. Lester is pompous, but his deeds are good. He finds love, he gives Woody a job, he pays for a lavish wedding. Deeds over words. What you do, is more important than what you say, that is Mr. Allen's ultimate message. Woody's character is punished in more ways than one, for sabotaging the job Lester has given him. That leaves the question of why Judah goes free, and Benjamin goes blind. I believe both can live with their fates, because of their beliefs, or lack thereof. The more obvious metaphor is the extinguishing of light, in lieu of a dark act, successfully completed. So Mr. Allen's message is morality exists within ourselves, for those who choose it. One other thing I applaud Mr. Allen for, is for casting, whenever possible, Jewish actors for Jewish roles. Mr. Allen talks the talk, and walks the walk, even if he is a professed atheist, In old Hollywood, and even in today's Hollywood, in the main, gentile actors are hired to portray Jews in films. So you see, to my way of thinking, Woody Allen is a Mensch! My only wish is, that I could tell him so in person!
Das Boot ist voll (1981)
I hated most of the characters in this movie. I hated the ending. I had trouble sleeping after I saw the film. A movie that affected me this much, must be brilliant. It is! In all its aspects. Simple storytelling at its best. A shame, and a sin, that it is all true. And you know it cuts right to the bone, after you become aware, as to how the movie was shunned in Switzerland, and how all but one print of the film managed to survive, after its initial release. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to the filmmakers and actors that made the Boat is Full, a reality. I have seen quite a few films, relating to the Holocast, and this is by far the the most horrific. As I said before, simple, yet effective.
Le mépris (1963)
A Forgotten Film / Curiosity piece
Contempt, could never be made today, because it would be commercial poison at the box office. . It was made, because of Goddard's clout, at the time. The assembled cast, which is great, is given little to do. A shame. It was assembled, I have no doubt, due to the director's reputation. This film is Goddard's vanity piece, an experiment. Goddard, I believe, accomplished what he wanted to do. Keep that in mind, when you watch this film. Le mempris exists today, as a film of interest only to movie scholars, and film school students, in that it is more technical achievement, than entertainment. Keep that in mind too, before you rent it.
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968)
I am so grateful, as an American Jew, that Peter Sellers agreed to play this role. He is the epitome of the regimented middle class Jewish boy, who came of age in those difficult times, know as the late sixties. He has one foot in the past, clinging to values, and one foot in the present, stuck in the mud. How Sellers captured this character so perfectly, down to the mannerisms and spot on accent, is beyond me. I know the history of Sellers, and his Jewish background. But he was English, and had spent little time in America. I can imagine Gene Wilder in this role, but it would not have been the same. This is a quintessential Jewish movie, to be seen on a double-bill with Bye,Bye, Braverman.
They All Laughed (1981)
What's Wrong with this picture?
Its not the cast. A finer group of actors, you could not find. Its not the setting. The director is in love with New York City, and by the end of the film, so are we all! Woody Allen could not improve upon what Bogdonovich has done here. If you are going to fall in love, or find love, Manhattan is the place to go. No, the problem with the movie is the script. There is none. The actors fall in love at first sight, words are unnecessary. In the director's own experience in Hollywood that is what happens when they go to work on the set. It is reality to him, and his peers, but it is a fantasy to most of us in the real world. So, in the end, the movie is hollow, and shallow, and message-less.