The Woody Allen Collection: Vol. 2
Woody Allen spent the first half of the 1980s indulging mostly in light whimsy, with his brilliant epic Hannah and Her Sisters (1984) and the somber turn of the otherwise fantastic The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) the exceptions. In 1987 the prolific director, with some 25 comedies to his name, indulged instead in a series of small, serious films that left many of his fans scratching their heads. Suddenly the influence of Ingmar Bergman on Allen's perspective was thrust to the forefront, and the result is one of the least likely but most interesting periods of his career, proving that 1978's abberratic Interiors was no fluke but merely a precursor of things to come a decade later. This particular period of Allen's career may well be deemed his 'Mature Years,' but not simply because he began dealing with darker subjects and introspective issues like aging and family it marks his last stretch of films of undeterred quality, and is featured in this five-disc boxed set from MGM. Starting with the tenderly melodramatic September (1987), Allen withdrew as a performer and adopted an intimate, stagy aesthetic tightly focused on the less-comic soul of neuroses: a deep emptiness that drives people to self-humiliation, emotional delusion, and casual cruelties. He carried this approach a step further, with greater effect, in Another Woman (1988). After a slight diversion with his silly short contribution to New York Stories (1989), Oedipus Wrecks (not included in this MGM boxed set), Allen married his darkening ruminations to an explosive gasp of repressed comedy for the crown jewel of this period and one of his very best films, Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). Allen again withdrew as an actor in his pleasing-but-serious 1990 fantasy Alice before launching into his most uneven period with Shadows and Fog (1992), which began a decade of uninspired retreads, sophomoric sex jokes, and ghastly failures of concept. MGM's The Woody Allen Collection: Volume 2 collects September, Another Woman, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Alice, and Shadows and Fog, into a single package. They're not all masterpieces, but Allen aficionados will want to add the box to their collections. For those who just want a few, the discs are also available separately (click the links above for individual reviews). All titles come in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby 2.0 mono, and include theatrical trailers. Five keep-cases in a paperboard slip-case.
Gregory P. Dorr
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