Friday, August 9, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Kate Blanchett,
I saw four movies this week at screenings; I can do three movies, but three in a row (M/Tues/Wed or Tues/Wed/Thurs) is hard. I can do four movies, but it pushes my sanity a bit, I'll admit, especially when it's M/Tues/Wed/Thurs. However, I ended my week with a treat: a screening of Woody Allen's newest, Blue Jasmine. The trailer made me hate Cate Blanchett's character instantly, so I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the film. Fear not, however: Allen is in top form here, and the movie is both interesting and fascinating to watch.

Jasmine (Blanchett), formerly Jeannett, moves to San Francisco to live with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), as she's flat broke and her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin) has been indicted for fraud and is in jail. Jasmine and Hal used to live in a life of luxury: two houses, many cars, and anything Jasmine could ever want ... until Hal is accused of fraud and carted off to jail. Now, Jasmine, who is unused to working, must find a job and a way to support herself, all while adjusting to living with Ginger, with whom she's never been particularly close. Her sister's boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Cannavale), already dislikes Jasmine because he and Ginger had plans to move in together (Jasmine's arrival is delaying those plans), but Jasmine doesn't like him either. Jasmine meets a new man, Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), and lies about who she is - she says her husband died of a heart attack and that she is an interior designer - and for a while, things go well with him, until her lies start to fall apart. Jasmine herself is in need of a visit to the psychiatrist: she starts talking to herself on street corners frequently, and people are starting to notice, too.

Half of this movie took place in San Francisco, a beautiful city, and the other half took place in NYC, in flashbacks. Woody Allen tends to just jump into flashbacks, so sometimes it was hard to tell if the scenes were a flashback or not - if Alec Baldwin or NYC was featured, then yes, but if San Fran or another place, then no. I also didn't know that Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures) was in this movie - he plays Hal's son, who Jasmine loses touch with after the indictment - and he was good in it, as well as Sarsgaard, Louis CK, and Cannavale, all in supporting roles.

Yes, see this film. In the Detroit area, it's exclusively playing at the Maple Theater, where I saw the screening, but I'm sure more theaters will eventually have it. I was surprised by how much I liked the movie: it had a compelling plot, interesting characters, and beautiful scenery, and I am betting that Blanchett will earn an Oscar nod for her turn as Jasmine - it was fun to see her let her "crazy" out, and she alternately makes you feel sorry for her character and also sometimes hate her, due to her snobbery. Sally Hawkins might earn a supporting nod too, for playing Ginger, Jasmine's less-worldly sister whom she still keeps in touch with, even though both Ginger and Jasmine were adopted (by the same parents). The only thing I would have changed about this movie is to make the runtime a little shorter, as sometimes it seemed slow, but at a 98 minute runtime there's not much leeway to shorten it more.

Blue Jasmine is in theaters today, August 9th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 98 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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