You can practically hear Woody Allen, a little exasperated, a little furrowed, wringing his hands at a New York cafe over a cup of borscht, pondering the world-weary dilemmas peppered throughout his six decades of films:
What is art? How important is sex? What's the meaning of life? What can religion accomplish, and what good has it ever done? Is progress necessary? Is this all there is? What would Freud say? (What about the Nazis, anyway?)
Allen's known for asking the questions. And in Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), one of his most enduringly brilliant films, he takes on adultery and murder— what happens to the person who never gets caught. Does God show up for a throwdown? Or does the fallen tree not make a sound?
On Passover, Jews sit around tables and talk for hours about the righteous and the evil, the mighty and the fallen, and the infinite reach of God's outstretched arm, yada yada— like a Woody Allen movie, actually. In honor of the holiday, we're reminded of the seder scene in Crimes, likely the most compelling screen time this holiday's ever had. The setup: Martin Landau has hired a hitman to kill his maniacal mistress (played by Anjelica Houston), and has walked away from the crime scot free. Racked with guilt and seeking peace of mind, he wanders to his childhood home and flashes back to a bygone Passover, where his family debates the point of morality. "Listen, if you want morality, there's morality," his Aunt Mae says. "Nothing's handed down in stone." Allen may not be one to divulge the answers, but it's still a thrill to watch him ask the questions.
Watch the clip on YouTube, and enjoy the holiday weekend.
— Rosenblit, entertainment editor at Details