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 Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine

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Donald McKinney
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PostSubject: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine   Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:40 pm

A decade ago, if you said Woody Allen would be riding on the wave of an almighty comeback in a few years time, you would have been laughed at, but it happened. It began with Match Point (2005), which saw Woody leave his beloved New York for London, where he crafted a dark, brooding romantic thriller, which at the time was his biggest box office success in a few years, and Woody stuck around in Europe, staying in London for Scoop (2006), Cassandra's Dream (2007) and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (2010), he also visited other European cities of culture, including Spain for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Paris for Midnight in Paris (2011) and Rome for To Rome With Love (2012). It was Woody's visit's to Spain and France that brought him more box-office success. Indeed, Midnight in Paris proved to be his biggest hit ever, grossing more than $150 million worldwide and winning Woody a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Back on top as a Hollywood player for the first time in years and at 77 years old, he's showing no signs of slowing down. For his new film, he returns to America for the first time since Whatever Works (2009), this time for another drama, but this one is a parable on the recession and it came about after Woody heard a story from his wife about a woman who lost everything, and Woody made a film inspired by that. The result is a powerful drama where it's performances are powerful and shocking, and it turns out it's Woody's best film in a while.

It begins when Jasmine French (Cate Blanchett) travels from New York to San Francisco to move in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), Jasmine has just been through a hell of a bad time, which started when her scheming husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was sent to jail for fraud. Hal was a successful businessman in New York, and while Jasmine never noticed what he was doing with money, she turned a blind eye to it. Then when he was arrested, Jasmine was left with nothing. She turns to Ginger for help, who has always been forgiving to Jasmine, even though Hal swinded her and her ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) out of $200,000 of lottery winnings. Ginger lives in a small apartment and is dating mechanic Chili (Bobby Cannavale). Jasmine wants to rebuild her life, and she see's herself as an interior decorator, but she finds it hard to start over, and that's not helped by the fact she's swilling down drink and Xanax willy-nilly. After a disasterous job as a receptionist for sex-mad dentist Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg), she eventually finds solace with Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a widower who has aspirations of moving into politics. Meanwhile, Jasmine's presence in Ginger's apartment and her mood swings put pressure on Ginger and Chili's relationship, Chili refuses to believe Jasmine had no idea what was going on with Hal. Ginger splits up with Chili and has a brief relationship with sound technician Al (Louis C.K.). Jasmine and Dwight's relationship seems to be flourishing and things seem to be looking up for Jasmine, or are they?

There have been a lot of comparisons between Blue Jasmine and Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire, which is true in a way, Jasmine is Blanche Dubois, Ginger is Stella Kowalski and Chili is Stanley Kowalski, even though Woody claims any similiarities are coincidental, you have to wonder. But, there are parallel's between Blue Jasmine and Richard Lester's Petulia (1968), where our story starts in the middle, with one strand moving towards the end, and flashbacks showing how it all started too interspersed throughout, as well as being set in San Francisco as well. Like Petulia, Jasmine was once in a relationship that seemed happy on the surface but underneath it wasn't, until she finds solace in someone else. It's a very powerful drama with just the odd dash of ironic humour dotted throughout, but Woody gets the best from his cast and crew. One reason why Woody hasn't made many films in America recently is because it's just too expensive at the minute. The budget on Blue Jasmine was so low, that many of the costumes and props for certain scenes were borrowed from wealthy outlets, some for just a couple of hours at a time. But you wouldn't guess, even for a low-budget film and the speed at which Woody films, utilising one-take-scenes and usually no rehearsal, you wouldn't guess, as this has a more professional sheen than Cassandra's Dream for example. It's benefitted from lovely warm cinemtography by Javier Aguirresarobe, who worked with Woody on Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Woody's dialogue is sharp and insightful here, and he may get another Oscar for this.

Woody has put together an eclectic and inspired cast for Blue Jasmine, led by Cate Blanchett, who relishes in the part of Jasmine, making it her own and showing the stresses of what's happened in her life. She has moments where she mumbles to herself, and has moments of depressive rage. Jasmine is a woman who has been pampered all her life and now has nothing to show for it. Blanchett's acting and Woody's dialogue are an explosive and winning combination, this is truly one of Blanchett's best performances and it's hard to describe it anymore, but you just have to see it to believe it. Blanchett is back up with some great support, including Hawkins as her kindly sister Ginger, Hawkins had worked with Woody before on Cassandra's Dream, and she does great as Jasmine's sister, who stood by her even when Jasmine's world came crumbling down. Alec Baldwin has fun as the slimey Hal, whose actions were inspired by Bernie Madoff, who committed the largest financial fraud in U.S. history, and Baldwin is compelling and oozes with repulsion. Woody made a few offbeat choices here too, getting controversial comedian Andrew Dice Clay to play Ginger's ex-husband Augie, but it's a brilliant choice, a tough blue-collar worker who got lucky until his money vanished, Woody gets a brilliant performance out of Clay, (who'd have guessed it?), showing embittered contempt toward Jasmine. Another controversial comedian cast was Louis C.K. who shows a restrained and sensitive side as Ginger's new beau Al, and it's another surprising turn which amazingly works, even if it is brief. Special mention goes to Bobby Cannavale (best known for Third Watch and Will & Grace) who is brutish and rugged as Chili, who also looks down on Jasmine with disgust, Michael Stuhlbarg gets some laughs as the dentist, and Peter Sarsgaard as Dwight, the new crumb of comfort in Jasmine's hellish life.



Woody Allen has crafted another fine film, even if much of his output since the late 1990's has been chequered and unfocused in places, he's back on home turf and his focus has turned to the real victims of financial collapses. Most directors Woody's age would be thinking of slowing down and some will have already retired. Not Woody, he's still making a film a year with no signs of slowing down, he's just completed another film, Magic in the Moonlight, out in the South of France, (back in Europe again), and as soon as that comes out, he'll already be hard at work with his next film. This is a film whose fireworks come from the incredible performances put down by the cast, and they were blessed by an incredible script by Woody, which has power, raw emotion and brilliant dialogue. Woody seems to be following a new and somewhat unpredictable pattern as of late, he's returned to serious films, but you don't know what he's going to do next. It might be a fantasy like Midnight in Paris, a drama like Match Point or this, or another silly comedy like Whatever Works or To Rome With Love. Woody fell out of public favour years ago, but he's winning it back piece by piece, nearly every other film since Match Point has been hailed as "a return to form", but Woody has always done the best he can, even if he is depreciating a lot of most of his films, especially Oscar winning ones like Annie Hall (1977), but when he puts his mind to it, he can create wonders, and here he was blessed with creating a compelling story, and performed by a great cast.
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PostSubject: Re: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine   Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:36 am

Missed this at the cinema Sad I really wanted to watch it because of Cate Blanchett.

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PostSubject: Re: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine   Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:46 am

Do you get OAP's screenings where you are?
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PostSubject: Re: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine   Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:16 am

I'm not sure. I don't think so.

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We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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