As the days grow shorter and humanity settles in for a fall and winter amid a pandemic, good films can help the spirit grow. Here are Catholic Sentinel staff picks for this season.

‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’

1989, PG-13, on DVD

Yes, Woody Allen is morally challenged.

But the director’s masterpiece involving a philandering eye doctor, a lovesick filmmaker and a blind rabbi is one of the most morally enriching films of all time. During this odd autumn, we need to know choices have consequences.

Amid nuanced imagery of ethical blindness and beautiful use of darkness and light, viewers will be gratified that the man losing his sight, the rabbi, has the clearest moral vision. He is a fine tribute to religion.

“Crimes and Misdemeanors” is far from kitsch. At one point, the ophthalmologist tells the rabbi, “God is a luxury I can’t afford.” That one tragic sentence is worth an essay on human alienation, identity and purpose.

Dignity of life comes into play, as does the sanctity of marriage. The documentarian, played by Allen, contemplates adultery.

Most of the characters are, like us, serious sinners. But the point is that we don’t get away with it, even if we don’t get caught. Sin, the film makes clear, interrupts the universe, damaging the relationship with our Creator and Lord. Sin sheds misery.

The two storylines end up merging around the rabbi, who stands as a source of steadfast love lighting a dark universe.