• Another Woman



    Released by: Twilight Time
    Released on: May 11, 2017
    Directed by: Woody Allen
    Cast: Gena Rowlands, Ian Holm, Mia Farrow, Blythe Danner, Betty Buckley, John Houseman, Sandy Dennis, Francis Conroy, Philip Bosco, Martha Plimpton, Harris Yulin, Michael Kirby, Gene Hackman
    Year: 1988
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    In the period between Best Picture and Best Director nominee Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986 and Best Director nominee Crimes and Misdemeanors in 1989, Woody Allen wrote and directed a trio of fine little films. (His contribution to the 1989 anthology New York Stories—a misfire called "Oedipus Wrecks"—is best forgotten.) Said films were Radio Days and September, both done in 1987, and 1988's Another Woman.

    Another Woman is the best of the three, due mostly to amazing performances by nearly everyone involved. It reprises the Bergmanesque tone of his 1978 film Interiors, the first thing Allen did that was intentionally not funny. Gina Rowlands, eight years after her second Best Actress nomination (for her work in husband John Cassavetes’ 1980 mobster pic Gloria), shines as Marion Post, a philosophy professor taking a leave of absence to complete a book. Construction near her own home makes writing impossible, so she rents a flat in downtown Manhattan. Things get interesting when she realizes that she's next door to a psychiatrist's (Michael Kirby) office and, courtesy of an air vent, can hear the shrink's sessions with his patients. At first, she covers the vent with sofa cushions to maintain everyone’s privacy, but eventually she's drawn to the drama wafting through the wall. One patient in particular, a pregnant depressive ironically named Hope (Mia Farrow, in a weirdly one-note portrayal), is overwhelmed by the pointlessness of her own existence and, well, existence in general. Marion listens closely and starts to relate, prompting her to analyze her own fifty-something life and make some long-overdue, if painful, changes.

    Among the relationships turned inside-out is her marriage to her unfaithful rat of a husband, Ken (Ian Holm), her long-term friendship with one true love, Larry (Gene Hackman), and her sad, angry bond with her asshole of a father (John Houseman). Sister-in-law Lynn (Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy) and Marion's BFF from high school, Claire (Sandy Dennis), also get in their licks as seemingly supportive figures in Marion's life who turn out to be anything but. TV's Betty (Eight is Enough) Buckley shows up briefly to steal the screen as Ken's VERY bitter ex-wife. And it would be remiss not to mention the ever-awesome Blythe Danner (aka Gwyneth Paltrow's mom) who knocks it out of the park as Marion's married “friend” (irony quotes intended), Lydia. (Danner, incidentally, looks pretty much the same here as she does in the Prolia commercials you may have seen recently.)

    Allen is nothing if not prolific; his fiftieth film (Irrational Man) is already two years in the past. And yes, of course, he's made his share of crap (like, for example, Irrational Man). But at his best, he's an American cinematic treasure, and he's pretty close to the top of his game here, like him or not.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Twilight Time brings Woody Allen’s Another Woman to Blu-ray in an edition limited to 3,000 units, with an MPEG-4 AVC encode in 1080p high definition. The film is placed on a single BD50 disc in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with a relatively high bitrate. As with Interiors—another Allen film recently released by Twilight Time—Another Woman bears more than a trace of Bergman’s influence, both in a visual and a literary sense. Visually, the two films take a similar minimalist approach to the material, with low-key color schemes bordering on white and tan. Again, backlighting is used to illuminate many scenes, though Another Woman contains more scenes in low-lit interiors and nighttime exteriors. Most viewers won’t be wowed by the level of detail, but this is a pleasingly filmic transfer nonetheless, with most of the details appearing on people’s faces or when scenes occur outside, where there’s ample foliage. Interiors are bereft of dressing, leaving little for the transfer to lock onto. The lack of set dressing was intentional on Allen’s part, as Interiors was a mood piece, and it was always intended that the sets would reflect Marion Post’s introspective state of mind. In general, grain provides a nice foundation for the imagery; in only a couple of scenes early on does it seem a little too prevalent. Elsewhere, it is slight and organic. (The noise level does go up slightly during darker sequences, but this is to be expected.) Overall, this features exactly the kind of transfer the film should have, one that doesn’t make it appear too new and flashy while accentuating Allen’s many directorial flourishes, all of which are a reflection of Post’s mental state.

    This is not a major action-adventure spectacle, so viewers shouldn’t expect more than Allen is willing to give. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track more than does its job: relaying Post’s inner monologue, various conversations, and occasional music cues straightforwardly and with minimal distraction. The track is clean, and dialogue is clear and understandable; in fact, this reviewer watched the film with the sound relatively low and a loud air conditioner on, yet could hear every single word clearly. That said, English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired are supplied if needed. There is no damage of any kind, nor any hiss. Twilight Time has supplied a second track as well, the film’s score (which pops up mostly during the party scenes, when there’s an onscreen reason for it) in isolation, also presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. This track, too, is clear and pleasant.

    The only special feature is the film’s original theatrical trailer, which runs 1:30 and is fairly typical for an Allen film. (Note that Allen does not allow other special features such as documentaries, featurettes, or commentaries on releases for the films he directed.)

    As usual, Twilight Time has also supplied an on-screen catalogue, which lists through Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965) and makes clear which titles have gone into moratorium. The release also contains an 8-page booklet with liner notes by esteemed film historian Julie Kirgo. Kirgo’s notes do what a commentary should but can’t here: provide background information and history on the film as well as assess its merits. And, for the record, she also nails this reviewers’ feelings exactly with her very first sentence: “Given the relatively high profile of most films from writer-director Woody Allen, there’s a certain treasure-hunting pleasure in rediscovering one of his most obscure titles, particularly when it turns out to be, in the fullness of time, even better than it was on first viewing.”

    The Final Word:

    Another Woman is a unique film for Allen, one that easily moves between real life, memories, dreams, and possible fantasies, sometimes blurring them, in another Bergmanesque drama that focuses on the inner thoughts and feelings of its female lead, played by a powerful Gina Rowlands. Twilight Time’s release contains an organic visual presentation that perfectly suits the story Allen is telling, with a well-modulated and nuanced primary audio track. Extras are sparse, but that has more to do with Allen than with Twilight Time. Allen fans won’t want to pass this release up.

    Christopher Workman is a freelance writer, film critic, and co-author (with Troy Howarth) of the Tome of Terror horror film review series. Horror Films of the Silent Era and Horror Films of the 1930s are currently available, with Horror Films of the 1940s due out later this year.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!



















    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Weird. I just watched this yesterday for the first time - via the MGM DVD - and today there's a review here! I thought it was excellent and very moving. The dream sequence is among the best I've ever seen in a film.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      I had seen this many years ago and didn't like it. Watching it again last week (basically thirty years later), I realized just how good it was.
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