Monday, January 6, 2014

Blue Jasmine

By Sati. Monday, January 6, 2014 , , , , , , , ,
There is a fairly new pattern in the world. Every two years Woody Allen makes a good movie. Between that his movies are either really, really bad or truly acquired taste. After an unholy abomination that was From Rome with Love, truly one of Allen's worst, comes delightful, mature, insightful and surprisingly dark Blue Jasmine.

Jasmine (mesmerizing Cate Blanchett, who in two months time will be collecting an Oscar for this performance, refreshing that Oscar will go to worthy performance, after going to Lawrence last year) is an odd, neurotic woman. For years she has been married to a man who swept her off her feet when she was young, just before she had a chance to finish college. Hal (Alec Baldwin) introduced her to the life of wealth and luxury. When it turns out he is a crook and Hal goes to jail (where he hangs himself) all is taken away from Jasmine. Soon she runs out of any money and stays with her down to earth, ordinary sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins)
The film is a clever look at a person who fell from grace and now needs to find herself in a mundane world most people live in. Jasmine has a posh accent, refined taste and elegant clothes. She also has a sense of entitlement and contempt for others. Those traits make her situation even more difficult - she won't take just any job because she thinks it's beneath her.

Jasmine's sense of entitlement and illusion of grandeur make for a number of very funny scenes - best of which happens when Jasmine screams 'this is so embarrassing!' after her dentist boss forces her to kiss him. Jasmine doesn't care about the assault - all she cares about is that kissing a dentist is so much beneath her her status. Former status in reality, but in Jasmine's head - something that's part of her forever.
The film is also a homage for A Streetcar Named Desire - we have a delusional heroine, her plain sister and sister's temperamental partner - here named Chili, an ordinary guy who drinks too much but loves Ginger. All those similarities are delightful to watch, especially given that Blanchett played Blanche Dubois on Broadway and Alec Baldwin played Stanley Kowalski in 1995 adaptation.

But it's all about Jasmine. Cate Blanchett has been one of my favorite actresses for years now. Before Blue Jasmine I adored her work in Elizabeth the most. But Blanchett was always wonderful - her performances in Veronica Guerin, Notes on a Scandal, I'm Not There, Aviator and many others proved time and time again that she is a very gifted and versatile actress.
That said, Blanchett's work as Jasmine is a league on its own. It's like she completely let go of any brakes, lost herself in character and then in that character lost herself yet again. Blanchett completely disappears into Jasmine - she doesn't hit one false note in extraordinarily difficult performance to pull off.

There were times where Jasmine was scary to look at - her staring off at nothing at all, looking angry and brokenm as well as during the times Jasmine was blabbering to herself with manic expression on her face. Another thing that made her so interesting to watch is the ambivalence I had for her - on one hand Jasmine is incredibly selfish and she has done some terrible things. On another it's impossible not to feel sorry for her, considering how delusional and lonely she is.
Blanchett is completely fearless - she is not afraid of looking completely haggard or consumed by madness - Jasmine is often drenched in sweat, shaking, with mascara running on her face. Her appearance matches her shaky mental state - Blanchett actually makes Jasmine look so unhinged she appears to be dangerous. And yet she never loses her delusion of being worthy of so much.

While Blanchett completely owns this movie, the supporting cast is impressive. Allen has an eye for talented actors and his films never disappoint when it comes to impressive ensemble. Sally Hawkins plays Ginger, Jasmine's sister and her polar opposite. Hawkins plays her as a character that's very grounded, but she still hopes for great love and someone who is going to treat her like a lady.
Then there is Bobby Cannavale as her boyfriend, who is certainly memorable. Cannavale was really good here, even though his character is slightly one dimensional. Louis C.K. shows up and as excellent as he usually is, I couldn't help but think he was a bit of a miscast here. Peter Skarsgard is really convincing playing a complete asshole, as Jasmine's boyfriend with similar illusion of grandeur. Still, it's Blanchett's show.

The film is beautifully shot and the color blue is cleverly inserted in many scenes - in Jasmine's clothing, the look on the ocean, the color of the car. The music, as usually in Allen's films is elegant and fits the film brilliantly. You won't be able to stop thinking about Blue Moon for a while after this one.
The film's another wonderful aspect is its great, ambiguous and dark ending. It reminded me a lot of the courageous way in which Allen ended The Purple Rose of Cairo. If you hated Jasmine, you probably won't find the ending dark, but if you had a bit of sympathy for her, it's not something you are going to be able to forget soon.

Considering how wonderful Blue Jasmine was, I reckon Magic in the Moonlight is going to be absolute fiasco. Still, it would be hard to top From Rome with Love.
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42 comments:

  1. Yep, totes agree on everything. Blanchett is a goddess and that last scene was just- wowsers, I'm scared. I was initially a little confused on how to react to the film, but I did think it was really good and though it's only been like two hours since I saw it, I'm loving it more and more :P I do hope Woody's pattern doesn't continue this year though. Woody and Emma Stone seem like a match made in comedic heaven.

    I distinctly remember you liking Lawrence (I know! I know!) last year because I did too. Don't be mean :(

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    1. Because Lawrence performance comparing to Chastain's was better, lesser of two evils kind of way. Blanchett's performance is miles and miles above Lawrence's - it's nice when Oscar actually goes to such wonderful, great, flawless performances and not just to the performance that simply had a fortune of being nominated in year that was weak for the category,

      I'm not being mean. I'm being honest. If you think this is mean then I'd recommend avoiding this blog if Lawrence takes second Oscar this year.

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    2. Agreed. There are performances this year that are far more Oscar-worthy than Lawrence last year and yet they aren't even going to get nominated because of how tough the competition is now (unless they expand the category, idk if they can do that).

      Cate, though, stand in a league of her own despite how tough the year is. That's how amazing she is as Jasmine.

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    3. They can't expand, sadly :( Last year was so weak and this year is so lovely for actresses, but still they don't nominate those who deserve it most.

      Blanchett was truly sensational, this will be a very deserved win.

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  2. Nice review Sati, I really need to see this as I'm a huge fan of Cate Blanchett.

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  3. Great review - your only making me more and more excited for this movie. And I get what you mean about Magic in the Moonlight, I think Woody's gonna just make it crap just so he doesn't ruin the pattern.

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    1. Thank you, hope you'll like it!

      I'm really worried about MitM. Even title is lazy.

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  4. I really liked this film as I think Cate Blanchett is going to win while I'm hoping that Sally Hawkins gets nominated for Best Supporting Actress as she was able to go toe-to-toe against Blanchett. I also hope the film gives Andrew "Dice" Clay a new career in film. He was really impressive in that film.

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    1. They were all so great here, Allen really chose an amazing cast. Blanchett was far and above everyone else for me, but it would be great if Hawkins gets nominated.

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  5. Fantastic review, Sati! I LOVE LOVE Blanchett and I so agree with all you said here about her being fearless and able to really go all out in immersing herself into her characters. I saw her in Little Fish at TIFF and though the film has flaws, she was mesmerizing in the role. I'll watch this one for Blanchett, though I'm curious to see Hawkins and Cannavale too, the latter seems to be having quite a year as I read he was good in Boardwalk Empire as well.

    "Every two years Woody Allen makes a good movie" Well was the last good one Midnight in Paris? I haven't seen anything by him since then, thank goodness. I heed your advice in avoiding From Rome With Love.

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    1. Thank you! I haven't seen Little Fish but I really ought to one day.

      Cannavale is really everywhere these days, I never finished his BE season but from what I've seen he was fantastic there.

      Yep, followed by awful From Rome With Love

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  6. Blanchett certainly was amazing in it but, as you said, I am not really surprised. She always is! Sally Hawkins was fabulous too and it was quite a departure for Allen. What's funny is I never saw Streetcar in it, though it makes total sense when you say it.

    I am also hoping he breaks off his pattern next year, if nothing else for the sake of Emma Stone. :(

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    1. I hope so too, I mean it's such a waste when he makes a bad movie.

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  7. Good review Sati. One of those very rare instances where Woody just lets his ensemble do the talking for him, and a good decision on his part. Not only is everybody great here, but they also bring so much more depth out of this material that you wonder what Woody was even going for in the first place.

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    1. Thank you, glad you liked the film too!

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  8. I really hope Blanchett gets the Oscar this year. So far, she deserves it above all other Oscar contenders. Great review. I loved this movie dearly :)

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    1. Thank you! I really think she is winning :)

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  9. Great review! I have yet to see the film, but I loved Blanchett in movies I've seen of hers so far - hoping I'll love this too.

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    1. Thank you! I've seen most of her work and for me this is her best performance.

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  10. Great work Sati! I'm a big fan of all the cast and under the direction of Allen, how could it really go wrong? This sounds absolutely brilliant.

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  11. I'm sort of happy I didn't think about A Streetcar Named Desire while watching, that could have been distracting to me, if I had known that beforehand.
    You are right to highlight the performances in your review, the actors put on a clinic :)

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    1. I liked looking for similarities myself, but I can see your point.

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  12. Excellent review, totally agree with your opening paragraph about Woody Allen.

    Blanchett will win best actress, she was terrific but, yes there's a but, the film was too close to Streetcar & at times I felt Blanchett was on stage, a little showy but not American Hustle standards, which screamed "look at me look at me".

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    1. Thank you!

      I think that's how Allen usually directs his actors, his films are almost like stage plays.

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  13. Really enjoyed reading this review and your thoughts on Blanchett. At times I did hate this character, but I never wanted bad things for her. The ending works perfectly, and Im glad Allen kept it that way. She is my pick for best actress this year.

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    1. Thank you! She is my win too, she was mesmerizing.

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  14. I thought I'd like the movie more, but in general I liked it more than most Woody Allen movies :) Blanchett was outstanding. And loved her style too.

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    1. Glad you liked it, it was really one of his best recent movies.

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  15. Although Woody Allen is usually a hit or miss for me, i do enjoy this one. I think i gravitate to it because Blanchett is just simply stellar in this one :D

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Blanchett was incredible.

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  16. Lovely review, I knew you'd love Blanchett's performance! I felt so nervous watching her, knowing that there was nothing I could do to help her. Watching Jasmine’s breakdown was very unsettling. I really love Cannavale's performance too. He’s at once trashy but with an intelligence which is nice to see.

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    1. Oh, she was astonishing. Cannavale was really good, he's really on the rise right now.

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  17. Great review. Blanchett is fabulous, and she doesn't even make my top 5 anymore. :( 2013 was too great for performances. I love Hawkins' performance too. I'm hesitant on Magic in the Moonlight, but it's a must-see, regardless.

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    1. Thank you! Are you going to publish your best performances list?

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    2. I'm going to do a 2013 ballot on Friday, but I might include honorable mentions or something. There are SO many acting snubs!!

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    3. Oh, awesome! Yeah this year was really amazing in terms of great performances.

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  18. "There's only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets and start screaming." This is my ultimate quote of the year. I kind of want it in poster form to be hanged on my office wall, so people, you know, get the point.

    Jasmine, to me, is our favorite Mavis Gary amplified. Cate brings the mind of delusional to a whole other level and never falters from her on-off normal to neurotic. She'll deservingly win the Oscar for this one...the A+ performance she gives never stops or pauses in any scene. She commits 100% and is my gif queen of the year.

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    1. It's such a terrific and very accurate quote.

      I loved her work here the most out of her performances and she is always so amazing, but here she was on the new level of greatness.

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  19. Agree with everything. Blanchett is stunning in this and the story is told in a great way, with the flashbacks sometimes disorienting you a bit. Really enjoyed watching this and like you I would not be surprised if she gets an Oscar for this.

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    1. I really can't wait for her to win her 2nd statue, she is one of the best actresses working today.

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