Monday, January 16, 2006

Woody Allen & Punishment

We just got back from the new Woody Allen movie, 'Matchpoint'. Oh my, was it awful. My husband was dying to see it because he had read so many good reviews of it. After the movie he admitted to me that he had read only the first paragraph or so of several reviews and not read them in depth. Because if he had read them all the way through, he would have realized that this movie is an adaptation of Crime and Punishment, the novel that ruined the summer before my senior year in high school.

By the end of that novel, I would gladly have taken an axe to Raskolnikov myself. I mean, how many pages does it take to say, "I killed a person, that was a bad thing to do?" What kind of idiot doesn't really understand that? And I'm a liberal--you'd think I've have gotten into the endless moralizing and equivocation of that moron scholar. Oh, and the horrid misogyny involved in Raskolnikov's idealization of that virginal peasant woman--Anna? I can still see the woodcut in my copy of the novel: Anna as some Virgin Mary figure with sunbeam rays coming out of her head.

Or maybe the Allen movie was just one big joke--it goes on and on and on with the most tedious exegesis of an adultery plot that you can imagine. And on. And on. And you can see every plot development coming for a mile. I finally turned to Roger and asked him if he was bored and wanted to leave. And then, a long time after it was clear that he was going to have to kill the pregnant girlfriend, he finally does. And then, suddenly, you realize that you're in Crime and Punishment--to your horror. Because something someone says triggers that recollection--and, by the way, that is the book our protagonist is reading in one of the opening scenes of the movie.

And then you think to yourself, how long was this movie supposed to have been? Hasn't it been hours already? Doesn't Raskolnikov's ridiculous anguish and descent into madness take up most of the 500 or 600 pages of that awful book? How much more can I suffer? And he goes in to talk to the police captain. And then the police captain suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night and realizes that Chris did it. And then the police captain goes into work to explain his theory to his partner, but the partner tells him a key piece of evidence has been found on another robber--and then the two of them decide to go out for a burger. And that's pretty much the end of the movie.

And that part of the movie was wildly funny, but the whole thing had been so pretentious and serious-like that you didn't know if you were supposed to laugh or not and no one else in the theater was laughing (although that didn't actually stop me from laughing hysterically through the last 15 or 20 minutes of Titanic, and in the case of that movie, everyone else was actually sobbing). But come on--as she's lying on the piece of wood floating into the northern Atlantic, and the searchboats come and she starts hacking at the frozen arms of her dead lover to push him off so she can go make the search and rescue operation, and all the time telling him how he's the love of her life and she can't stand to live without him--and then after she throws the giant jewel away (which she never used to combat human misery and poverty, as she acted she might)--then she dies, and then she and her lover are going down into the ballroom of the Titanic and everybody is clapping wildly for these people they didn't know, this couple that despite their pretensions to care about the poor and downtrodden, this couple that made no effort to save another human being the entire time the boat was sinking, just chased each other around and around like some live action version of Tom and Jerry--well--I didn't like that movie either.

No comments: