Month: August 2017

Review: Detroit

Frantic, frenzied and fraught with racial tension, Detroit is Bigalow at her very best. For 143 minutes unrelenting waves of impassioned violence will leave you breathless. The Cinéma Vérité style throws us headfirst into the chaos, as if to witness the brutality of the 1967 race riots with our own eyes. Whether you agree that this was Bigalow’s story to tell or not, it is undoubtably one of the most important films of the year.

Detroit opens with a collection of acclaimed African-American artist Jacob Lawrence’s work brought to life, giving vital socio-historical context to the audience. Following the conclusion of WW1 an estimated 6 million black Americans migrated from the rural South to the urban North-East under the false promise of employment. Poverty, ghettoisation of black neighbourhoods and the blatant racism they were subject to were all factors in the combustible tension, the only thing missing was the spark to ignite conflict and incite change.

That spark came on July 23rd, 1967. Detroit police raided an unlicensed club hosting a party for two returning Vietnam veterans causing outrage among the locals. Stones and bottles were thrown at the officer’s cars as they pull away from the scene and a few, fuelled by anger, break into and rob a convenience store. The next 5 days saw over 7200 people arrested, 1,189 people injured and 43 dead, the third most deadly riot the United States has ever seen. Bigalow uses the same dynamic shooting style as her previous films The Hurtlocker and Zero Dark Thirty to capture the mayhem and the result is a visceral and harrowing cinematic experience.

With the scene set the focus narrows to an incident at the Algiers Motel, a safe haven for those looking to escape the violence. The National Guard mistake a starter pistol fire for a sniper and raid the motel alongside Detroit Police. Everyone inside the building is lined up facing the wall and three police officers (Will Poulter, Ben O’Toole and Jack Reynor) begin a brutal interrogation. By the end of the night three black men have been gunned down and the remaining suspects have all been harshly beaten, among them are two white girls, Motown singer Larry (Algee Smith) and Vietnam veteran Greene (Anthony Mackie).

The depiction of what is essentially torture is in turn torturous to watch. It was sickening to see the callous and bloodthirsty treatment of innocent people by the police. Will Poulter’s performance as the ringleader Krauss was haunting, casting perfection of an actor who continues to prove himself in leading roles. John Boyega similarly impressed with his portrayal of Melvin Dismukes, a security guard who entered the motel to help arrest the ‘sniper’ but was powerless to stop the monstrosities he witnessed, as we the viewer were. I think the camera lingered 15 minutes too long here. The intent is clear but after the message is made and ingrained through violent imagery the narrative should have pushed on.

The conclusion to Detroit offers no comfort or closure to the audience. Important social issues such as racism deserve to be tackled in film and Bigalow deserves praise for doing so. She shines a light on this story matter-of-factly, not holding back the key details that carry the most emotional weight. 50 years on it is disheartening to see how little we have come, Ferguson (2014), the death of Eric Garner in New York (2014) and of Freddie Gray in Baltimore (2015) are just three of countless incidents demonstrating the same intrinsic racism.

There has been substantial criticism surrounding the race of both Bigalow and screenwriter Mark Boal. Angelica Jade Bastien (rogerebert.com) says ‘watching Detroit I realised that I’m not interested in white perceptions of black pain’, continuing to state that the film is not ‘authentic’ as a result. Such comments are simply ludicrous and there is a certain irony in racist attacks of a film that attacks racism. If the purpose of art is to inspire critical thought and agitate change could the ethnicity of the creator undermine the necessity of the discussion? Absolutely not.

Review: The Wall

Doug Liman goes back to his filmmaking roots for his ninth feature film with a budget of just $3 million. Set in Iraq after the American declaration of victory in 2007, this cat and mouse story involves an injured American soldier and a fabled Iraqi sniper and is shot entirely around, unsurprisingly, a wall. Unfortunately both walls collapse into a pile of rubble, one from repeated high calibre sniper rounds, and the other by the inconsistent debut screenplay of Dwain Worrell.

Sniper Shane Matthews (John Cena) and his spotter Allen ‘Ize’ Isaac (Aaron Tayor-Johnson) are called to investigate the construction site of an oil pipeline which the bodies of the workers and their security detail litter. 22 hours of scanning the area for any movement later and Matthews decides that it was the work of a group of terrorists who have long since vanished rather than a single sniper, much to the anger of Ize who repeatedly asserts that single, headshot bullet wounds are telltale signs of a sniper. Fuelled by pure American bravado, hotheadedness and with not the slightest concern for protocol, Matthews takes off his camouflage, leaves the safety of his hideout and heads into the war zone alone to prove he was right all along.

As Matthews reaches the bodies, he quickly senses something is wrong and in perfect cinematic timing his retribution is swift and instantaneous, taking a bullet to the stomach. Ize attempts rescue but gets hit in the knee in the process and is forced to take cover behind a small wall, his brother in arms lays in the open, alive, barely. Shortly after, the Iraqi sniper appears on Ize’s radio impersonating an army officer trying to trick Ize into giving his exactly location by firing in the air but is sussed out when Ize gets suspicious at the officer’s disregard for protocol, as if that stopped anyone before.

This scene is both the highlight of the film and the cause of its downfall. Verbal camouflage and trickery is an idea rarely explored in cinema but to fool the viewer as well as the on screen character the portrayal has to be convincing which it was absolutely not, think Ewen McGregor in Big Fish. Once the sniper or ‘Juba’ reveals himself the plot wanders into no mans land, slowly sinking under the weight of irrelevant dialogue and lacklustre sub-plots.

In an interview, Liman noted that the characters in his movies are unconventional superheroes, Tom Cruise’s Bill Cage in Edge of Tomorrow for example, and the same can be said here. Although the Groundhog Day ability of Cruise is far more believable than the pinpoint accuracy of this Iraqi sniper. From over 1500 yards we are to believe that ‘Juba’ intentionally hits the radio antenna, water canteen and knee of ‘Ize’ as he frantically strafes trying to dodge the bullets, leaving him without backup, water and bleeding out.

Despite the numerous flaws of the film, Liman deserves praise for creating an almost heatstroke-inducing environment. The endless dust and blazing sun emphasises the harsh conditions of the Iraq conflict. Aaron Taylor Johnson continues to go from strength to strength putting in the performance of his career as Ize, and John Cena proves to everyone that he most certainly can act, at least in the handful of scenes where he was conscious.

The Wall falls into the most frustrating category of cinema. Movies that aren’t distinctly good or bad, but are remarkably average and as a result, utterly forgettable. The only question that you’ll be left pondering when the credits rolls is ‘Why does Doug Liman repeatedly shame me for the Iraq War as if I was the one who said they had WMD’s?’

In Conversation with Neville Pierce

Having seen the marvelous short comedy “Ghosted” (review here) at this year’s Lift-Off film festival we approached director Neville Pierce. His career consists of many facets, from journalist to screenwriter to director, and shares with us some very interesting and honest insight into the world of film journalism.

It was during his time at Bournemouth University that Pierce first developed his interest in journalism, and more so in writing about film. Being naturally good at storytelling, “spoken or written”, it is this that drew him to the art of reporting. Whilst studying journalism more generally, Pierce religiously read the now extinct magazine Neon which led to him to pushing himself to try, based on the mere logic that “Someone has to write for movie magazines – so why not me?”.

Starting off as the logical next step as a part of his journalism degree, a week’s work experience turned into two months working at the North Devon Journal. He recalls that the journalists there “were mostly only recent graduates themselves, but at the time seemed much older and wiser (and sexier) than I could ever aspire to be”.

Having been editor of the fortnightly paper The Nerve for a year, it was a natural question to ask what were his best and worst experiences in that position. To this, Pierce’s answer was an event that was simultaneously both, as he remembers “being shouted at by a columnist for editing his work – but he subsequently apologised, accepted the edit and we remain close friends, 20 years later”. If he could give his student editor self some advice, it would be to “admit your mistakes – even if only to yourself. Everything is useful – even the failures. Everything can be shorter – from articles to meetings”.

A journalist before the explosion of internet in the 2000s, his experience of journalism was quite different to that of film critics or any journalists today, the main problem being that beforehand, “People paid to read things. So YOU got paid”. A result of the use of internet for film criticism was the development of aggregated review sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, which Pierce recognises as a useful tool “if you want a barometer of critical opinion, though inevitably reductive”. He also points out that percentages will never replace an actual film review, as he might watch something a critic has not liked, depending on their taste.

As for him and his incentive to review films, he sums it up as a combination of “ego, enjoyment and earning” which I think can be said for the majority of film critics, as his response to what he wished to achieve through creating artistic content: “Buying a house”. His process to reviewing films is a unique one (this was before he was directing them), advising to “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you just told them. I was told that at school, about public speaking, but it applies to that type of writing too I think. Sometimes you can be more playful, especially if you’re writing a long, lead review – you can give more career context or make a point about theme. I always try to judge a film on what it is trying to achieve, as well as whether it is personally to my taste”.

Even critics have favourite critics. Pierce gave me this response when posed the question: “David Thomson changed the way I looked at film writing, with Rosebud, his biography of Orson Welles. His Biographical Dictionary of Film is wonderful, too. I can’t remember who said if you write about film then you get to write about everything, but that would apply to him. Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian) maintains a remarkably high standard. Robbie Collin (The Telegraph) is eclectic and insightful. Guy Lodge (Variety) has a delightful turn of phrase”.

He continued: “I am in awe of the breadth and depth of Kim Newman’s knowledge. Others who are less critics – though they do write reviews – than general film journalists would be Damon Wise (Neon and Empire), who was a big influence who became a friend. Matt Mueller (Screen International) is a fine editor and a fine man. Ditto Dan Jolin, who gave me my first bit of paid work, back at Total Film. It’s a long list, really. I’m impressed by what Joe Utichi is doing with Deadline’s magazine Awardsline. Chris Hewitt and co are very good on the Empire podcast. Jamie Graham is a very fine interviewer and informed critic – I value his opinion highly. The best all-rounder, broadcast and print, is Mark Kermode, for my money. Entertaining, informed, fluent on paper or on screen or speaker – superb”.

Getting more and more influential in his work, Pierce went from a staff position editing Total Film to being a freelance journalist for Empire. The transition from one job to the other was a noticeable one. “I didn’t have to manage people, I just had to manage my time. I didn’t have as much influence on what went in the magazine, of course, but I did have more freedom”, which lead to an obvious change of pace for Pierce and a much better quality of life.

Less of a transition of sorts and more of a variation in that field of work, Pierce described his experience in both radio and print journalism as quite different ones. “Print generally allows more depth (though not always). It also allows you to edit yourself more effectively and hide your incoherence. Radio is merciless in that regard”.

Pierce managed to obtain exclusive access as a member of press to the film sets of Fincher’s Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. “I had interviewed Fincher for a retrospective piece on Fight Club and we had got on, but when I emailed his assistant asking to visit the Zodiac set I expected to be told no – because he doesn’t generally allow journalists on set. So, really, I was incredibly surprised to be there. I also felt – and feel – he is one of the greats. So I was soaking up every bit of detail I could – for me, it’s like having the opportunity to go on set with Kubrick. I think the best set visit article – of the many I’ve written for Fincher films – was probably for Zodiac, because it was so fresh and exciting an experience for me”.

Now Pierce’s time is mostly taken up by screenwriting and directing, this did not happen over night and was a gradual shift in his career. The short version of why exactly he is in the filmmaking end of movies now is that he always “at least subconsciously, wanted to do it – and eventually the fear of failure was outweighed by the fear of not trying”.

In an industry where one’s work is constantly scrutinized, the fear of failure never dissipates. “Whether it’s articles or scripts or finished films, I don’t think you’re ever completely satisfied. You may look back years later and be able to say you think something was good – or, at least, close to what you had in your head”.

For my final question, I asked Pierce how he would describe the relationship between filmmaker and film critic. The answer was “carefully”. “I think Barry Norman probably said it best: ‘All critics are parasites – but parasites can be useful.’ So, yes, critics can’t exist without something to comment on. But great criticism can be beautiful – and definitely useful. Some critics are snide and ill-informed, of course, and that must be infuriating when you’ve worked hard to make a film (I’ve felt angry and frustrated upon reading ignorant reviews of the work of friends or filmmakers I admire), but a great many are dedicated, informed people who love cinema and work very hard for modest reward. I think I used to look down on film journalism, basically because I did it. Now I see its value much more. And it irritates the hell out of me when filmmakers are scornful of critics as a whole – especially filmmakers who are happy with critics when they love their work, then dismissive of them when they don’t. You have to take your lumps”.

You can find out more about his past, current and upcoming projects at nevpierce.com

Review: The Emoji Movie

Back in November 2015 when the Emoji Movie was announced, it was written off as a cheap cash grab, but few could have predicted what was to come. Like Harry Potter on his first Christmas morn at Hogwarts, we awake with surprise to find a delightful cinematic present under the tree.

Writer-director extraordinarie Tony Leondis, known for his work on direct-to-video classics such as ‘Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch’ and ‘Kronk’s New Groove’ took the helm for this, his first widely released film. While watching this film, I would not be surprised if you drew parallels to animation greats such as Walt Disney, for they do share many similar flairs for filmmaking. For example both Leondis and Disney have an innate ability to craft a enchanting story, immersing the viewer in their fantasy world. Disney took inspiration from fairytales. Leondis’ fairytale was Toy Story, a centuries old tale that modern children couldn’t relate to anymore, so he adapted it for the 21st century toy, the emoji.

The leading role of the ‘Meh’ emoji is played by TJ Miller but his performance is eclipsed in every way by former Gavin and Stacey star James Corden who plays the ‘Hi-5’ emoji. Voice acting has never been recognised by the Academy but there will undoubtedly be some discussion behind the scenes about this topic, and there would be no better year to introduce the category than 2017.

Corden gives a nuanced and complex performance as the bandana wearing hand, provoking a deep emotional reaction the likes of which haven’t been seen since Adam Sandler’s role as both titular characters in 2011’s Jack and Jill. Thankfully, it won’t be long until we see Corden in another voice acting role as his next film, an animated adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, is right around the corner.

In the film industry, producers and studios increasingly favour established characters and stories, and original ideas such as that of Leondis can struggle to attain the funding needed to make. This obstacle was overcome with an ingenious idea after Leondis saw that he could receive money in advance from corporations by featuring their products, notably that Heineken paid a reported $45 million to have James Bond drink their beer in Skyfall. Therefore to raise the $50 million necessary for the budget he would just have to rewrite the script to give these corporations bang for their bucks.

Not only did this help the film turn a profit before it even hits the cinema, but we the viewers get introduced to various exciting bits of technology. Video game series Just Dance and the app Candy Crush both had ten minute segments dedicated solely to them. Facebook, YouTube, Shazam, Dropbox, Spotify, Instagram, Yelp, Twitter and WeChat all feature too. Parents can relish the fact they don’t need to teach their children the important life lessons, like how in Candy Crush arranging three of the same colour candies together in a row eliminates them, because films like this do it for them.

Whether you 🙂 it or 😦 it there will certainly be a sequel, simply because any animation about small and yellow people is a sure fire hit with children. Perhaps we will get a walkthrough on how to buy something on eBay or Amazon with daddy’s credit card while the XD emoji dual wields Mountain Dew branded fidget spinners. We can only wait and see.

Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

First published in the French magazine Pilote in 1967, Valérian and Laureline has become a landmark of European culture. Growing up director Luc Besson was an avid reader, citing it as an inspiration for The Fifth Element. During the production of that film he had the chance to work with Valérian illustrator Jean-Claude Mézières, who asked him ‘Why are you doing this shitty film? Why you don’t do Valerian?’. 20 years later and armed with the biggest independant film budget in history at an estimated $180 million, Besson’s passion project has finally reached the silver screen.

In the late 1980’s through his films Subway (1985), The Big Blue (1988) and Nikita (1990), Besson has been noted as a founder of Cinéma du look. A film movement coined by critic Raphaël Bassan, it is a predominantly stylistic filmmaking approach, opting to neglect the narrative in its favour. Valerian, although produced three decades too late, can be seen as an extension to this. The visuals throughout are resplendent and bright, yet the plot leaves a lot to be desired. This doesn’t make Besson’s work a bad film though, I think it is one of the most imaginative I have ever seen, but it is the first major blockbuster film that feels like it was made by actual, flawed people.

Extensive crowd testing normaly takes place behind the scenes to make sure a movie is clean, safe viewing. Any coarse or offensive edges will be sanded out and it causes a lot of releases, especially in recent times, to be stale. Valerian is different. It is highly original, and fantastically entertaining. Granted there are lots of mistakes, for example the chemistry between the on-screen partners Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne was frankly non-existent, but what it lacks is dwarfed by what it brings.

Set in the 28th century, the film opens with a delightful sequence showing the expansion of the International Space Station. First other nationalities add modules such as Russia and China, then countless Alien species join to, which are all fantastically bizarre in design. The ISS grows rapidly and gets renamed Alpha, a universal home for all to live peacefully. Naturally not all Aliens will be bipedal or even breath oxygen, so the station incorporates different environments within it. Every shot of these environments and the creatures within them are breathtaking. The artistry and craftsmanship in designing and making each of the hundreds of species is in my opinion worthy of the Best Visual Effects Oscar.

We are then introduced to our leads, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne). They are two intergalactic cops on their way to stop a black market handover of a last-of-its-species animal called a Mül converter, which can infinitely reproduce any object that you can squeeze in its mouth. When they arrive at the planet though there is no sight of ‘Big Market’, the universes biggest shopping centre, just a walled area on a dusty planet. That’s because in order to see it you have to wear special VR-esque goggles that let you see into another dimension.

This sounds silly but the moment you see the full scale and diversity of ‘Big Market’, you can’t help but be enamoured with Besson’s work. The way both dimensions interact is both extraordinary and hilarious. It is hardly surprising to learn that the crew to Valerian didn’t understand his vision for this 18 minute sequence and he enlisted the help of 120 of his film students to shoot the entire thing as an example.

An extra dimensional market city isn’t the only outlandish idea Besson threw in. Singer Rihanna plays a polymorphic prostitute called Bubbles (Ethan Hawke plays her pimp) who has a 10 minute dance performance for Valerian. While this was quite mesmerising, he wasn’t there for pleasure, and after a lot of persuading he wears Bubbles like a suit and she changes form into a brutish ogre of an Alien to help Valerian on his quest. This is one of many sizeable detours from the main plotline that alter the pacing and tonality of the film. While ordinarily this would be a major quibble, I was always left amazed at the imagination needed to create these ideas.

As with his previous film The Fifth Element, they will undoubtably be a large cult following but it remains to be seen whether it will be enough of a success to warrant a sequel. For such an expansive and intriguing world, it would be desperately sad if our door to it was closed so soon.

 

Review: Dunkirk

“There’s no such thing as an anti-war film” is a quote attributed to the late French filmmaker François Truffaut, suggesting that war and conflict is inevitably glorified in its depiction. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk finds a way to subvert this claim. His portrait of the fabled World War Two evacuation does not romanticise war or fetish violence. Instead it displays the bravery and resolve of over 400,000 Allied troops, many of which never made it home.

From the very outset you can hear the sound of a ticking stopwatch, of time running out. For if the Allied forces don’t escape France soon, they shall be massacred. It is apt then that the plot of Dunkirk incorporates time so deeply. There are three different perspectives shown in the 100 minute length, the first of which is entitled ‘The Mole’. This thread of the narrative structure details the week long land based evacuation centering around a young Private called Tommy (Fionn Whitehead). The second thread is called ‘The Sea’ and takes place over a single day. Mark Rylance plays the owner of a pleasure boat who, rather than let the Navy requisition his ship, sets sail for Dunkirk himself accompanied by his son and boat hand. Finally, ‘The Air’. This is but an hour. That’s how long Farrier (Tom Hardy) can provide air support in his Spitfire with a full tank of fuel.

Incredibly, all three of these perspectives are interwoven together, converging on a single moment. The scale of this, Nolan’s tenth feature, is awe-inspiring. From the wing of a Spitfire to the largest naval film shoot in history — including a 350-foot French destroyer from a museum in Nantes — his insistence of realism over computer generation bring us to within almost touching distance of the conflict. The dogfights especially were a technical marvel.

For the soundtrack to the film, Nolan turned once again to his long-time collaborator Hans Zimmer. In order to achieve the unrelenting tension and unease, Zimmer made use of an auditory illusion, the Shepard-Risset glissando. Put simply it is three versions of the same scale, each one octave apart. The high scales starts loud and gets quieter, the middle scale stay a constant volume, and the lower scale starts quiet and gets louder. Your brain is tricked into thinking the scale is continuously rising. Add in the sound of a ticking clock and the result in an ever-increasing sense of unease, pushing the narrative forward with it.

This minimalistic ethos seeped into other areas of production too, namely the dialogue. Harry Styles, who was the standout performance, speaks maybe 40 lines, leaving the visuals to throw the psychological punches. Yet the events of those days are dealt with using a surprising candour. A scene of one soldier taking off his gear and marching into the sea and to his death was met with silence, except for the inescapable tick tock of time.

The magnitude of Dunkirk is tremendous, but there is an unforgettable intimacy shared with those men. Their desperation to survive is haunting, with each death as heart-rending as the last. It is a breathtaking experience, Nolan’s crowning jewel in a catalogue of cinematic excellence.

Review: Crimes and Misdemeanors

As someone who prefers Woody Allen’s stand-up comedy to his films, Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) gave me new-found respect for his work. The film begins with a banquet celebrating Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau), a successful ophthalmologist and a highly respected man in his Jewish community. He has worked hard to secure a privileged position in life, so when he finds his equilibrium threatened, he is faced with a moral and philosophical dilemma.

A 2-year love affair with flight attendant Dolores (Anjelica Huston) becomes problematic when he comes across a letter from her addressed to his wife, revealing their affair and threatening to destroy his carefully constructed image. She is done waiting, has “put off business opportunities” and turned down other men for him according to her. She deserves to get what she claims was promised: marriage, security, and basic acknowledgment. The viewer sympathises with her character, growing more desperate with each scene she plays in.

Dolores makes the tactical mistake of reminding Judah she is aware of his “financial improprieties” and illegal moving around of funds to maintain his comfortable situation. It is at this moment he feels truly threatened, not only menacing to ruin his private life but also his professional one.

Presented with the opportunity to arrange her murder, it soon becomes the only viable option in Judah’s mind to put an end to his misery. This is a constant trait of this man of so called morals – he is perpetually concerned with his image, his life, his comfort. Where this is an immoral thing to do, his choice is very simple: to allow Delores to destroy his life completely or to eliminate her and carry on with his life unaffected. Judah Rosenthal is a man of probity, and due to his long-standing reputation is therefore exempt from any association to this crime –  he is a man beyond suspicion.

Running parallel to this storyline is that of Cliff (Woody Allen), a now out-of-work newsreel editor who also is also involved in a passionless marriage and adultery. As Roger Ebert pointed out in his review, the film’s format is Shakespearean: “The crimes of kings are mirrored for comic effect in the foibles of the lower orders”, and Cliff certainly brings comedy in this tragedy. Both him and his wife Wendy (Joanna Gleason) are clearly fed up with each other, but unlike Judah, he does not have any appearances to keep up.

It is through Wendy’s two brothers Lester (Alan Alda) and Ben (Sam Waterston) that Cliff’s and Judah’s lives intertwine. Ben’s character is intriguing, he is a Rabbi who, going blind, is treated by Judah. Underlined by Judah’s growing guilty conscience of getting away with murder, Ben’s presence and loss of eyesight evokes the possibility that God, who’s “eyes are always on us”, may have a tendency to turn a blind eye to evil. Throughout Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen does a brilliant job of suggesting that God merely exists if one lives in the fear of Him, basing all of one’s actions and decisions on the fear of a vengeful God.

Lester is the polar opposite to Ben, a charismatic TV sitcom producer. The embodiment of everything Cliff despises, he is less than thrilled when, as “a favour to Wendy”, Lester gives him the opportunity to work on a documentary about Lester himself. “You weren’t my first choice” he matter-of-factly tells Cliff – neither of them want this to happen. Whilst on the production of Lester’s documentary, Cliff meets Halley (Mia Farrow), becomes infatuated with her after multiple instances of watching and working on film together, yet of course looses her to Lester.

Cliff’s comparison of Lester to Mussolini is his step too far and seems genuinely surprised as to why this should get him fired, this was his way of using the cinematic lens as a tool to expose someone’s true nature. Lester’s character comes across as the continuation of Alan Alda’s famous role as Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H (1972-1983). He is the same endearing, delightful character we watched for 11 seasons, making it not seem impossible that this is the post-war life of the talented surgeon. His hair may have grayed, but certainly not his charm and natural magnetism.

At Ben’s daughter’s wedding, the two protagonists end up “plotting the perfect murder” for a film scenario. Inconspicuously, Judah tells his story in the form of a potential movie plot, and reveals that after a lot of rationalizing, he feels no remorse and is now at peace with his actions. Cliff disagrees with this ending, “how could he live with himself?” he asks Judah. Cliff is a man of morals and philosophy, who ironically by the end of the film has suffered professionally, romantically and ideologically. Judah has abandoned his morals and has thus been able to continue his life of wealth and privilege, he has stopped living in fear of a higher power.

Allen therefore displaces the punishment immoral characters deserved but never received: the wicked are rewarded, the guilty left to languish, and the believer blinded.

crimes and misdemeanors