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cubanmiamiboy

Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine"

22 posts in this topic

Hi, cubanmiamiboy. Thanks for posting. I have not and have no plans to do so before it hits DVD unless I'm really at loose ends. I once went to Allen's movies automatically; even if they weren't that great they still tended to be better than many of the other offerings at the local multiplex. That ceased to be true roughly around the time of The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Blue Jasmine has been well reviewed but I no longer trust most critics on the subject of Allen so that cuts no ice with me. Cate Blanchett is supposed to be good in it. I hope that's so. Her most recent performances that I've seen have veered between hammy and mannered, not something it gives me any pleasure to say about an actor I admire.

Of course, if I'm pleasantly surprised after seeing the movie I'll certainly say so in this space. Would be interested to hear from people who have seen it, yea or nay.

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I haven't seen a Woody Allen movie for years but thought I'd go because it was filmed here and is supposed to show "the real San Francisco", and it's always interesting to see a movie about the "real city" you're currently living in and then step outside afterwards and see if it changes your idea of your relationship to your surroundings.

Anyway yesterday I was looking at the New York Review of Books blog and saw Francine Prose's unsympathetic review there. What was amazing was the number and intensity of responses correcting her take on WA and Blue Jasmine. One writer said that Woody Allen treated the Blanche Dubois character better than Tennessee Williams had (sort of overlooking the fact that Williams had created the part). Prose says:

"I’ve always had a certain fondness for films about women breaking down, perhaps because madness has always seemed to me the road not taken. But none of the films I’ve admired—Nunnally Johnson’s The Three Faces of Eve (1957), John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), and most recently, Mike Leigh’s Another Year (2010)—have made me feel, as Blue Jasmine did, that the heroine is at least partly responsible and is getting what she deserves."

So I think it will be interesting to see the movie with that in mind and see how true that seems.

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/aug/15/blue-jasmine-watching-her-drown/

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Blanchet does indeed looks mannered here, but then, I remember some women of her character's breed when I was working in a hairdressing salon in Key Biscayne, and well...I swear many of them talked and act just like Jasmine. At times, with their behaviors, there was not difference in between reality and the comedic impersonations of these women one can see from SNL. They were all VERY mannered.

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I'm sure you're right, cubanmiamiboy, and I see what you mean. But I'm talking about a different kind of mannered, something that belongs to the actor and not to the character.

Hi, Quiggin. Thanks for the link, I did see that review. The fact that Prose says she was disappointed because the movie didn't live up to the alleged high standard of Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona does not bode well. I admit I find the San Francisco angle tempting.

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Count me as one who, like dirac, found myself gradually giving up on Woody Allen's films a while ago. Midnight in Paris, his biggest money-maker by far, was something I actually had a hard time sitting through, despite the evocative glimpses of late-night Paris..

That film was, however, fascinating in the way it manipulated its target audience by dropping the names of so many 20s-30s cultural figures. At the screening I attended, you could hear the little self-congratulatory gasps of recognition whenever "Picasso," or "Stein," or "Fitzgerald," or "Dali" made a brief appearance.

Based on reviews, I've been envious of those who had the chance to see Blanchett's Nora and Blanche on stage when she came to the U.S. with the Sydney Theatre Company. I read one reverential review of Blue Jasmine in which, like the commenter on the website referred to by Quiggin, considered her performance in Blue Jasmine as being in the same league as that in Streetcar. My reaction was skeptical. So I'd like to hear from readers who can argue a good case for Blue Jasmine.

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I saw it twice, already---and am restraining myself not to go a third timeflowers.gif

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I would not call it a masterpiece, but then, considering all I've seen being rewarded by the Academy for a while...

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I have not seen Blue Jasmine yet, but based on the descriptions I've seen of the film it seems similar or loosely based on the Ruth & Bernie Madoff story, but with much better looking people playing their parts. One of my friends disliked it because Blanchett's character never "grew." However, I think that's the whole point - the wives of the rich and famous have lived vacuous lives for decades, filled with material consumption and parties but without any substance. After living this way for decades, it is too late for them to change once the financial rug is pulled out from under them.

By the way I did see Blanchett in Streetcar at Brooklyn Academy of Music. It remains one of the highlights of my years of theatergoing, and it was a shame that it was never filmed or done on Broadway so that a wider audience could have seen it. Blanchett has said in interviews that she was not attempting to channel Blanche Dubois or her prior performance in Streetcar into her performance in Blue Jasmine.

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Based on reviews, I've been envious of those who had the chance to see Blanchett's Nora and Blanche on stage when she came to the U.S. with the Sydney Theatre Company.

I would be eager to see Blanchett onstage, period, but as I remember the reviews of performance and production were respectful but rather mixed. Blanchett isn't my idea of Blanche but then many actors who've recently essayed the role haven't been my idea - it seems every Dramatic Lady Star of a Certain Age has a go at Blanche, much as actors used to try Hamlet. Of course one can always be surprised. It's interesting that Streetcar isn't really a Lady Star vehicle - the original stage cast was very much a quartet, with Brando dominating for obvious reasons. Leigh and Brando were more equally matched in the film, but Kim Hunter and Karl Malden made a very strong impact as well.

Thanks for posting, atm711. What did you like about it?

(Cristian, I think the Academy has actually done quite well in the last few years. Argo was no masterpiece but quite a few of the Best Picture winners have been at the least worthwhile viewing and sometimes more than that.)

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There was an article in the NY Times a few days ago regarding the costumes in Blue Jasmine. Woody Allen gave the costume designer a budget of $35,000, which is peanuts for a film like this in which the characters are supposed to be very materialistic and wearing gorgeous, expensive accessories. I linked the article below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/fashion/in-blue-jasmine-suzy-benzinger-turns-clothes-into-characters.html?pagewanted=all

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Thanks for posting, atm711. What did you like about it?

I had the best of two worlds -- Tenn Williams and Woody Allen---and Cate Blanchett's sensitive performance---I can't get that final scene out of my head (I won't be a spoiler and go further) He also kept to the subject matter by not idealizing San Francisco in photographing the city. He stayed away from the tourist parts and showed us the underbelly.

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atm711:

He stayed away from the tourist parts and showed us the underbelly.

San Francisco's "underbelly" would be the Tenderloin. But it looks like some of Blue Jasmine was filmed in the Mission, at 14th Street and South Van Ness actually a very desireable area for the new tech class. Rents in SF now rival those of New York. The flat in the trailer looked rather nice.

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As a side note, I asked my mother if she wanted to go see it, and she told me she ceased to like Allen after the Previn affair...never watched any other film of him.

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I know some people who still boycott Woody films because of the Previn affair. However, Sun Yi Previn and Woody have now been together for a long time and have a few kids together. In fact, I think they have been married a lot longer than most other Hollywood types.

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Allen's conduct and bizarrely tone-deaf statements related to the affair did alienate much of his fan base, a considerable segment of which was female, and women in particular tend to take a poor view of men who mess around with the daughters of the family. There were men who thought he was pretty disgusting, too, of course.

In pictures like Manhattan Allen presented his character as a searcher for enduring values (remember that lecture Michael Murphy got for cheating on his wife with Diane Keaton)? At the end of the movie Allen's search concluded by chasing down his 17-year old lover, a foreshadowing of things to come, perhaps.

The marriage will last as long as Soon-Yi wants it to last, I expect.

Allen has recovered to a considerable extent. Midnight in Paris was his biggest hit. Possibly he's pulling in newer viewers that remember little if anything about the Previn affair, and others have returned to the fold. Laudatory articles and documentaries that politely omit most of the details of the scandal appear regularly. But some fans have long memories. In my view they're not missing much by boycotting him, but reasonable people will disagree.

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My mom did actually see "Vicky,Cristina Barcelona", as she's telling me now, but she also says that she doesn't think she has missed too much. The last film she saw of him before that was The Purple Rose of Cairo...

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There's a wonderful moment in Sleeper where Allen and Diane Keaton riff on Streetcar with Allen as Blanche and Keaton as Stanley.

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Allen's conduct and bizarrely tone-deaf statements related to the affair did alienate much of his fan base, a considerable segment of which was female, and women in particular tend to take a poor view of men who mess around with the daughters of the family. There were men who thought he was pretty disgusting, too, of course. [. . . .]

But some fans have long memories. In my view they're not missing much by boycotting him, but reasonable people will disagree.

I was disgusted by the affair as well, but I guess I don't see what good boycotting would do anyone. Not to rant or change the subject, but the film industry isn't exactly filled with moral paragons in the sex and marriage department anyhow.

Manhattan Murder Mystery in 1993 - I'm glad I didn't miss that one.

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It was nice to see Allen and Keaton together again in MMM but there wasn't much to the movie IMO. Marshall Brickman was back on board for that one, which possibly helped a bit. (Farrow dropped out of MMM for obvious reasons.)

There's a wonderful moment in Sleeper where Allen and Diane Keaton riff on Streetcar with Allen as Blanche and Keaton as Stanley.

Yes, that's a funny bit, lmspear.

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“Blue Jasmine” is out on DVD.. I didn’t see anything that would make me change my no-theater policy on Allen’s pictures. The echoes of Streetcar are very, very strong in many of the San Francisco scenes - so much so that it was distracting for this viewer. Not good, especially as Allen’s dialogue does not benefit from the comparison. I have read that Allen says he did not have Streetcar in mind while writing his script. On the evidence of what made it to the screen….hmmm.

As Quiggin notes upthread, the movie is shot mainly in the Mission District. It’s true that Allen doesn’t give the city the glowing travelogue treatment we’ve become familar with from his recent pictures shot overseas. We are apparently supposed to think Ginger’s flat is horrid, but it looked nice to me, if possibly a tad cramped for two adults and two kids, and any clerk for a local grocer in contemporary San Francisco in possession of it would be in good shape. I kept waiting for someone to point this out to Jasmine but perhaps Allen doesn’t know any better? His relationship to modern pop culture seems fuzzier than ever. (Jasmine and her husband’s “song” is “Blue Moon.”)

Allen’s preference for brevity can be refreshing in a day where dramatic feature films routinely balloon past two-and-a-half hours but it can also look like carelessness, as it does here - characters inadequately sketched in, heavy reliance on stereotypes, important story lines and backstory not filled out. Blanchett’s Jasmine begins affected and batty and ends affected and batty, with no development, and even in flashback we don’t learn enough about her.

I liked the scenes with Sally Hawkins and Louis C.K.

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