Blue Jasmine reviews

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Re: Blue Jasmine reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:41 pm

Once she wins the Oscar, will people finally let go of the perceived injustice of Gwyneth Paltrow's win over Blanchett in '99?

One category down, twenty-three to go.
"What the hell?"
Win Butler

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Re: Blue Jasmine reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:48 pm

And, Screen International.

Hard to argue against this being a significant best actress candidate. Will the film do even better? Might Sally Hawkins finally make the nominations list? Could Woody join Billy Wilder at 8 directing nods?

Blue Jasmine
17 July, 2013 | By Brent Simon


Dir: Woody Allen. US. 2013. 98mins


The comedown of a haughty socialite provides the basis for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, an examination of existential crisis and self-delusion that is nimble, glancingly funny and yet also marked by sly, unstressed depths. Anchored by a superlative, wound-up turn by Cate Blanchett that will surely generate some awards consideration talk, the film exhibits perceptive dramatic insight with only a leavening pinch of melodramatic inclination, highlighting the gravitational pull of the love one thinks they deserve.

Blanchett’s performance is mesmerising, and in some ways a flipside presentation of the same suffocating neediness and loneliness Lesley Manville channeled in Mike Leigh’s Another Year.
Blue Jasmine marks the sixth collaboration between Allen and Sony Pictures Classics, and the fifth in a row for the distributor and prolific writer-director. Buoyed to some degree by their overseas settings, 2011’s Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris did $150 million worldwide, while last year’s To Rome With Love pulled in $73 million cumulatively. If the Stateside setting, unsympathetic title character and slightly heavier dramatic shadings of Blue Jasmine will likely tamp down its earning potential compared to those two offerings, the film should still connect heartily with adult arthouse audiences.

As the wife of New York businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), Jasmine (Blanchett) enjoys the rarefied life of a one-percenter. When her husband’s massive financial fraud unravels and lands him in prison, however, Jasmine finds herself flirting with a nervous breakdown. Still as self-involved as ever, she heads to San Francisco, where her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) lives a decidedly more downscale lifestyle.

Ginger’s relationship with her first husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), suffered with the financial hit they took as a result of trusting Hal with an important investment, and her new boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Cannavale), quickly develops a disdain for Jasmine in line with Augie’s. While Ginger’s susceptibility and general sweet-naturedness preclude her from cutting her sister out of her life, she pushes Jasmine — mortified at the thought of work — into taking a job as a receptionist at a dentist’s office, under Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg). Later, a pair of new relationships blooms; Jasmine snags rakish diplomat Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), while Ginger hooks up with sound engineer Al (Louis C.K.). Lies, however, make these precarious bonds.

The more conventional and feel-good take on this material would be one of sisterly reconnection and discovery via these various, intertwined stories of romantic bloom and withering, but Allen elides laborious whimsy and instead focuses on notions of reinvention (success is questionable) and romantic settling, via an engaging split structure that alternates between Jasmine’s lavish past and brought-low present. The basic discord Allen sketches is familiar (selfishness, disapproval over a family member’s significant other), but Blue Jasmine’s smiles and laughs flow mostly from a sense of pained social recognition rather than any patter.

A couple scenes blunder, coming across as overly schematic or tonally off, and Stuhlbarg also suffers the misfortune of playing a character who doesn’t make much sense. But the basic conflict and inherent similarities of collars, blue versus white, that Allen and editor Alisa Lepselter achieve through intercutting is the movie’s secret, and anchoring, ingredient. Javier Aguirresarobe’s natural, warm-toned cinematography, which makes nice use of some San Francisco exteriors, highlights an otherwise unfussy technical package.

Blanchett’s performance is mesmerising, and in some ways a flipside presentation of the same suffocating neediness and loneliness Lesley Manville channeled in Mike Leigh’s Another Year. Jasmine’s behavior is dominated by many of the same impulses, but generally lacking in social nicety. She’s the conceited teenage girl who stopped growing up when men told her she was pretty. At once refined and unhinged, smug and manic, Blanchett gives a shrewd turn that resonates ever more deeply long after the movie is over.

A variety of fine supporting performances also elevate Blue Jasmine, none more so than the frazzled, put-upon vulnerability of Hawkins, who as Ginger tiptoes around her sister’s psychological instability, all in the name of “family.”

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Re: Blue Jasmine reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:44 pm

Hollywood Reporter

Blue Jasmine: Film Review
10:00 AM PDT 7/17/2013 by Todd McCarthy
The Bottom Line
Cate Blanchett is neurotically golden in another memorable female character study from Woody Allen.

Cate Blanchett scored a great theatrical success four years ago as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. But rather than preserving her performance in a new film version of the play, as some suggested, she's gone a different route, creating a modern emotional sister of downward-spiraling Blanche in Woody Allen's fine character study Blue Jasmine. Going beyond the urban neuroses that are standard equipment for inhabitants of Allen's world, Jasmine is stricken by a life reversal so severe that her ability to ever cope with it becomes genuinely questionable, to the point of tragedy. Although marred by a couple of too-convenient plot contrivances, this often humorous drama lands firmly in the plus column among the Woodman's recent works, with Blanchett's tour de force making this a must-see for the cognoscenti and a likely mid-range earner by the director's standards.

Quite apart from the central performance, this is also a film that prompts the response: Woody Allen and Andrew Dice Clay, whoda thunk it? In fact, the lugs in the life of Jasmine's lower-class sister are played by Clay, Bobby Cannavale and Louis C.K., which contributes a vivid emphasis on class and financial distinctions that doesn't usually enter Allen's field of vision.

And the divide could hardly more pronounced than it is between the former and current circumstances faced by Jasmine, a fortyish blond beauty who once ruled the New York social roost as the wife of billionaire financier Hal (Alec Baldwin) and has now been reduced to pennilessness and disgrace with the collapse of her husband's empire and his suicide in prison.

The two worlds are sharply contrasted through the film's intercutting of past and present. When first seen, Jasmine is in first class on a plane heading to San Francisco, but her ultimate destination is a small apartment in a dodgy part of town where, as a last resort, she'll stay with her grocery-bagger sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Biologically, they aren't actually related, as both were adopted from different sets of birth parents, with Jasmine drawing the winning genetic hand in all departments. Needing a drink in her hand at all times, Jasmine confesses to have had a nervous breakdown and is still experiencing persistent aftershocks, insisting, “I can't be alone.”

Unfortunately for her, that means being surrounded by Ginger, who extends herself as generously as she can; her two noisy young sons; ex-husband Augie (Clay), a low-life handyman who blames Jasmine for his own dismal financial straits, and her hot-headed new boyfriend Chili (Cannavale), who, as Jasmine can't help but point out, seems to be no improvement on Augie.

Jasmine's current Tennessee Williams-like fragility is effectively contrasted with and foreshadowed by incisive flashbacks to her well-heeled Manhattan lifestyle, where she may have been neurotic but was also massively pampered by her husband and felt in control of her glamorous if circumscribed world. Having no reason to be suspicious of her husband's business practices, she also turned a blind eye to the smooth operator's extra-marital dalliances. Very much a Ruth Madoff figure (even to the point of moving in with her sister), Jasmine was utterly blindsided when her house of cards fell apart.

In desperation, she takes a job as a receptionist for a dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg), who turns out to be a lech, and tries to learn computer skills while setting her sights on a career in interior design, something to which she might actually be suited. But when Ginger meets a new man (Louis C.K.) who Jasmine thinks might represent a step up for her sister, Chili goes ballistic, making domestic life for everyone nearly unbearable.

The New York interludes, upscale even by Allen's standards, are glibly entertaining and to the point, illustrating Hal's fast-shuffling business dealings and discreet assignations on the one hand and Jasmine's self-absorbed obliviousness on the other. The San Francisco scenes underscore how the chaos, combativeness and aggressiveness triggered by the working class men in Ginger's orbit exacerbate Jasmine's condition. Not that being left alone would be any better, far from it for this woman whose whole world, including her son, has vanished overnight, leaving her hanging by the most slender thread.

Possible salvation finally turns up in the agreeable form of Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a debonair diplomat and widower whose amorous attentions are are sincere as Jasmine's needs are desperate. But this golden opportunity only serves to illuminate that her problems may rest less in what's been done to her than, as with Streetcar's Blanche, in a fundamental propensity for self-deception that may prove inescapable. The conclusion is both startling and feels entirely right.

Would that the same could be said of some of Allen's plotting. The writer-director's film-per-year fertility with original screenplays is unrivaled and enormously impressive, but just a few days devoted to a final polish might have dealt with the too-easy manner in which some climactic chance revelations are handled. In outright comedies, such contrivances are not only excusable but often welcome as part of the artificial fabric, but in mixed-tone works such as this that are meant to be plausible, they come off as lazy.

Still, this in no way detracts from the dramatic legitimacy and layered texturing of Blanchett's performance, which lies at the center of the film and defines its achievement. Brittle, sophisticated, myopic about the world at large and without sufficient emotional underpinnings to cope when the rug's pulled from under her, Jasmine rates with any of the numerous other major female characters Allen has written over the decades just as it reflects aspects some of them, notably certain characters in Alice, Another Woman and Husbands and Wives.

Hawkins's under-achieving Ginger is perhaps as much burdened by deficiency of imagination as Jasmine is by an over-abundance of it; in her second turn for Allen, the British actress is winningly self-effacing. Clay and Cannavale are right on-the-money as easily affronted goombahs with grudges against Jasmine, while Louis C.K. puts his own stamp on some very Allen-esque lines. Baldwin wears his handsome Wall Street weasel like a glove and Sarsgaard cuts a figure for Jasmine that properly does seem to good to be true.

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Blue Jasmine reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:41 pm

Buzz for weeks has pointed to a Cate Blanchett nomination.

Variety


Film Review: ‘Blue Jasmine’
July 17, 2013 | 10:00AM PT

Cate Blanchett plays a neurotic Woody Allen heroine for the ages in this serious-minded but ruefully funny work.

Justin Chang
Senior Film Critic

San Francisco has been good to Woody Allen, from his 1969 directing debut with “Take the Money and Run” to his lead turn in 1972′s “Play It Again, Sam,” and a long-overdue return visit provides just the shot of artistic adrenaline he needs in “Blue Jasmine.” It doesn’t hurt that this serious-minded but ruefully funny work is centered around a mesmerizing performance by Cate Blanchett as a neurotic Allen heroine for the ages, a desperate New York socialite who heads West after losing her husband and their ill-gotten fortune. Probing the allure of romantic fulfillment and upward mobility with rigor, emotional generosity and a pleasing sense of dramatic balance, this Sony Classics release won’t do “Midnight in Paris”-sized numbers, but solid critical response should pull in more than just the Woodman faithful.

Following the frivolities of “Midnight in Paris” and “To Rome With Love,” Allen makes an invigorating return to American soil with a meaty, fully realized drama that cleverly functions as both an update of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and a satire on One Percent excess. And while “Blue Jasmine” is rather less idyllic than the writer-director’s previous creative high point, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” it superficially recalls that 2008 comedy in charting the fortunes of two women, a blonde and a brunette, pursuing their very different goals in life. Yet Blanchett’s performance is so dominant in terms of screentime and emotional impact that the film succeeds as not only a virtuoso ensemble piece, but also an unflinchingly intimate study of the character in the title.

The fact that Jasmine sometimes still uses her birth name, Jeanette, provides an early clue that this is a woman with a talent for self-invention — someone who can’t help but delude herself and others, and who doesn’t mind turning a blind eye to those inconvenient realities that might threaten her life of privilege. That privilege has been yanked away from Jasmine as she arrives in San Francisco, evidently broke and single, and moves in with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).

That the girls were adopted from different sets of biological parents explains their lack of resemblance, in looks and temperament. While laid-back, free-spirited Ginger works at a supermarket, has two rowdy kids from a previous marriage, and is engaged to a macho, greasy-haired tough named Chili (Bobby Cannavale), Jasmine is clearly made of classier stuff, or so she thinks. Regular flashbacks reveal her life of luxury in the Hamptons with her businessman husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), who turned out to be as chronically unfaithful to her as he was to his investors. Among the many victims of his Madoff-like schemes were Ginger and her then-husband, Augie (actor-comedian Andrew Dice Clay), who made the mistake of entrusting Hal with $200,000 in lottery winnings.
The contrast between past and present begins to feel almost unbearably cruel as Jasmine is forced to pull herself up by her bootstraps, not an easy task for someone accustomed to Jimmy Choos. Eventually she begins working as a receptionist for a lecherous dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg) and taking computer classes, the first steps toward a highly improbable career in interior design. Yet far from humbling or inspiring her, hard work seems to make her only more pinched, whiny and abrasive, and as she compulsively mixes martinis and Xanax, she becomes ever more critical of the easily contented Ginger and her “loser” boyfriend.

While the New York flashbacks occasionally veer toward overstatement, they convey more than mere backstory, providing a psychological entry point as Jasmine becomes more and more unglued with every painful reminder of what she’s lost. Quivering with barely repressed rage, at times muttering to herself as she stares blankly into the void, Jasmine instantly takes her place among the most dynamic female protagonists in the Allen oeuvre, which is no small feat. It’s a brilliantly bipolar piece of acting, bringing an almost Method rawness to the writer’s typically refined dialogue, and what gives Blanchett’s performance such force is how expertly she modulates her character’s mood swings: One minute she’s a pill-popping, bleary-eyed wreck, the next she’s a vision of radiant, sylphlike elegance (especially in an array of stunning outfits designed by Suzy Benzinger), cozying up to a handsome diplomat (Peter Sarsgaard) who may hold the key to her future.

It becomes clear that while Jasmine scarcely deserves her fantasy world of effortless, extravagant wealth, it’s a world she absolutely belongs to and thrives in. Our sympathies are artfully scrambled; we begin to root for this over-entitled, self-destructive shrew to find love and lucre in spite of herself, lending the story a certain train-wreck fascination as it barrels toward its bitterly ironic conclusion.
The script takes a similarly complex view of its secondary characters, and what gives “Blue Jasmine” its particular integrity is its acknowledgment that, despite their obvious differences in sophistication, taste and socioeconomic background, every one of these folks may have a point. Allen’s sense of class stratification here isn’t exactly nuanced, but his sympathies are more evenly distributed than usual, and he happily reveals more than one side to every personality, a strategy that helps bring out the best in a very fine cast.

Inclined as one might be to condescend to coarse, working-class Joes like Chili and Augie (the names here are especially pungent and evocative), these dudes are far more admirable than their upscale counterparts, a point that Cannavale and Clay (an especially offbeat and rewarding casting choice) underscore with their mouthy, big-hearted performances. The other male roles have been cast with similar care: Baldwin, back for more after “To Rome With Love,” is almost too persuasive as a Wall Street sleaze; Louis C.K. is likable as a guy who takes a particularly randy interest in Ginger; and Alden Ehrenreich makes a welcome appearance as Hal’s Ivy Leaguer son. But besides Blanchett, it’s Hawkins who leaves the strongest impression as the sensitive and sensible Ginger, deflecting her sister’s attacks with endless patience and the occasional well-deserved telling-off. It’s the less flashy of the two roles, but Hawkins inhabits it with a graceful, unshowy depth of feeling.

While Allen displays more interest than usual in the particulars of lower-income living and even deigns to usher some of his characters into the computer age, the result can’t help but feel at times like a somewhat cushy, elevated Woody-world fantasy of workaday existence. Even Ginger’s Mission District apartment, meant to seem cramped in comparison to Jasmine’s beachside estate, looks relatively spacious considering the location. Along similar lines, Javier Aguierresarobe’s sun-dappled lensing can’t help but show off San Francisco to great advantage, as the film makes time for a walk along Ocean Beach, an amble through Chinatown, and a brief, obligatory shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. The old jazz standard “Blue Moon” makes a poignant main theme for this tale of romantic longing.


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