Blu-ray Review “Blue Jasmine”

Actors: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard
Directors: Woody Allen
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Woody Allen is one hell of an unstoppable force. Since he made “Midnight in Paris” (my favorite film of 2011), I have been on a real kick for his films.  “Blue Jasmine” can be described as simply, mesmerizing. Cate Blanchett is so bat-shit crazy that you both love at hate her. The film is hysterical yet has some great drama mixed in as well. I just kept asking myself how does this guy (Allen) come up with these amazing films. No question, this is one of the greats of 2013 and I have a feeling I will be having a repeat viewing in the very near future. Highly recommended!

Besides Cate Blanchett, who better win some awards for this role, there is a wonderful ensemble cast including Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins and Peter Sarsgaard. If I had to be runner up for best performance it would have to easily go to Bobby Cannavale who was an emotional wreck in this film and was wonderful. But very close behind him had to be Andrew Dice Clay, this guy was amazing. I kept asking myself why isn’t he in more films. Great talent here all around but that is expect from a Woody Allen picture.

Official Premise: Poignant, romantic and mesmerizing, writer/director Woody Allen’s latest masterpiece centers around Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a former New York socialite teetering on an emotional tightrope, balancing between her troubled east coast past and a fresh start in San Francisco. Having moved into her sister’s humble apartment, Jasmine ricochets between the tumultuous acceptance of her new limitations, and the dreams of reclaiming her past life’s glamour. Join a powerful cast for an intimate portrayal of the battle between fantasy and reality which rages within us all.

Sony delivered this film as a combo pack with the Blu-ray and Digital HD Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer was beautiful and really captured the essence of San Francisco. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track was solid as well but I wasn’t really blown away with the score like I was with “Midnight in Paris”. In terms of special features, it is not a surprise it is lacking since Woody’s films have never really impressed ere. “Notes From the Red Carpet” features the cast talking about the making the film and their characters. “Blue Jasmine Cast Press Conference” features interviews with Cate Blanchett, Peter Saarsgard and Andrew Dice Clay.

Film Review “Blue Jasmine”

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Sally Hawkins
Directed by: Woody Allen
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Sony Pictures Classic

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I enjoy “people watching”. There’s always been a fascination about other people’s lives, especially when you have nothing in common with that person yet you already have some predetermined notions about them. “Blue Jasmine” is the most intense version of “people watching” one could ever hope to achieve and a lot of fun. It has a quirky start, but once the pieces begin to fall into place, it’s off-the-wall charms turn into a strong drama with powerful performances.

Jasmine Francis (Blanchett) is in an alcoholic stupor. She downs Xanax like Tic-Tacs, verbally mumbles conversations she’s had in the past without realizing it and her emotional strings are pulled between depression and nervous breakdowns. Her sister, Ginger (Hawkins), has taken her in even though her life is in rebuilding mode. Jasmine has been on a tumble in life since her ex-husband, Hal (Baldwin), was arrested for his Bernie Madoff-esque activities. She’s gone from being the fashionable socialite of New York to tearfully debating her next move in life in San Francisco. The movie cuts back and forth from Jasmine’s previous life with Hal to her present predicaments. Both events unfold in a very smooth motion and the cuts from past to present are flawless.

Jasmine would be a sympathetic character if she wasn’t oblivious to the fact that people are trying to help her out. People around her hope to propel her forward with optimism as she criticizes and critiques everyone else’s life, behaving as if she was still being catered to in a mansion. Oddly enough, the most honest and truthful perspective in the movie comes from Ginger’s grease monkey boyfriend, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay). Instead of facing the harsh realities, she lies and manipulates her way through her new surroundings.

The entire cast of this film is at their peak, highlighted by a surprise performance by Andrew Dice Clay. Cate Blanchett perfectly portrays the pretentiously arrogant side of Jasmine as well as fully acting out her quivering moments after a healthy slap of reality. This is the first Woody Allen movie I’ve ever seen so I can’t really say that it’s his best work to-date or deliver any other comments of that nature. I will say that this is one of the more intelligent dramas I’ve seen in recent memory. Awkward scenes have a bit of light humor. Sometimes the laughs are uncomfortable. Even moments of melancholy are punctuated with a bizarre joy. The movie has an analytic feel about all of it’s characters without revealing too many of their motivations. Each character unravels, but only a few towards the end truly come out clean.

I get the sneaking suspicion that by the end of the movie, there will be a divide among audiences. Not straight down the middle, but a small minority that will feel sympathetic to Jasmine. The majority of others, like me, will have a morbid smile in watching things spiral out of control. The movie doesn’t portray her as good or bad, but instead just portrays her as human. She may be arrogant and self-absorbed, but when she’s knocked down she’s still scared and broken. Even though I took a certain glee in her misery, I found myself not wanting too much suffering to head her way. What makes her unlikable, but enjoyable to watch throughout, is the fact that she’s a constant fuel source and igniter for drama. It makes “Blue Jasmine” a rare treat at the theatre and a movie you’re sure to see in multiple awards categories at the end of the year