Although after the past several films he's been more widely known for comedies (everything from "Everyone Says I Love You" to "Small Time Crooks"), Woody Allen has put forth some genuinely compelling dramatic efforts during his many years. One of the best of these efforts is 1988's "Another Woman", starring Gena Rowlands as Marion Post. Marion is an older woman, married and childless, but trying to work things out with the young daughter from her husband's previous marriage. She is the head of the department of Philosophy at the local University; we learn almost everything about her from a dry voice-over during the opening scenes of the movie.
Similar to an artist who works in isolation at their studio, Marion has taken up a small apartment so that she can write her book. What it didn't talk about in the listing though, was that a vent shaft allows her to hear what is being talked about in the psychiatrist's office next door. Although many films have used this situation - mostly for comedy - there are real people talking about real feelings next door to Marion, and it causes her to re-think some of the things that have gone on in her life, as well. We see her relationships, find out more about the way she treats the people who are important to her and more.
It's a simple film - everything concludes within a brisk 81 minutes, where some other directors might have extended things past the two hour mark - but, in the end, it remains an absorbing character study. Rowlands does a terrific job as a woman who suddenly finds herself re-thinking her actions, and she's joined by an excellent supporting cast including Ian Holm and, for a few minutes, Gene Hackman. It's not my favorite Woody Allen picture and I think he's better suited for comedy, but it's still a well acted feature that I appreciate highly.
VIDEO: A few days ago, I checked out MGM's new edition of Oliver Stone's "Salvador". The majority of the film looked so crisp and clear that I thought, maybe MGM has changed their ways with their catalog titles.
Unfortunately, that still doesn't seem to be the case. After the dissapointing transfer for "Madness of King George", "Another Woman" looks similarly mediocre. Sharpness and detail are lacking, especially in the interior scenes, which sometimes look hazy. A few outdoor scenes fare better, but a great deal of the film looks less than well-defined.
There are some further problems with the presentation. Grain and some occasional light pixelation make for a rather rough looking image. Some edge enhancement is also visible in a picture that has a "digital" look to it. Flesh tones also seemed slightly off, looking a bit too orange now and then. Print flaws are visible throughout, as speckles and marks are apparent during many sequences in the film.
And, you guessed it, I didn't think colors fared too well, either. Colors occasionally appeared muddy and not very well-rendered, but mostly seemed passable. Just another less than average catalog presentation from MGM. You'd think a director like Woody Allen would use some of his control over how his films looked on DVD, but apparently not.
SOUND: As expected, all of Woody Allen's pictures are presented in mono and "Another Woman" is no different from any other one of the director's films. Sound quality seemed passable, though. Dialogue came through clearly and naturally, and what little sound there is otherwise also was fine.
MENUS:: As with all MGM titles, menus are basic with film-themed images as backgrounds.
EXTRAS: The trailer. That's it, that's all.
Final Thoughts: "Another Woman" is one of Woody Allen's better dramatic features. It's not presented particularly well by MGM's new DVD, but it's still worth looking at as a rental.