Plot: What’s it about?
I have to admit that the films of Woody Allen are growing on me. I’d never been too much of a fan of his work, though I’ll freely and fully admit that Annie Hall is a masterpiece. Never before have I seen so much that I could relate to in a single film. Ever. And that’s saying something. Like others, his more commercial and “successful” films like Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan and Crimes and Misdemeanors aren’t to be missed, but I missed out on some of this more recent movies. I adored Midnight and Paris, was indifferent on To Rome with Love and had heard nothing but good things about Blue Jasmine. And if Woody Allen isn’t the hardest-working 78 year old on the planet, then I don’t know who is. He comes out with a new movie that he writes and directs on nearly and annual basis. Tell me that’s not impressive. Granted, some are better than others, but admittedly he always manages to get great performances out of his actors. I said this in a previous review as well, but it still rings true…I have to imagine, as an actor, if Woody Allen comes knocking, he’s someone who you want to work with.
Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) has married well. Her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin) is a successful entrepreneur and has money to burn. Unfortunately for Jasmine, he’s got a wondering eye and doesn’t seem to have a problem with infidelity. Unbeknownst to Jasmine, she’s fine with signing contracts, sipping vodka martinis and shopping on Fifth Avenue. Her world comes crashing down, however, and she’s forced to relocate to San Francisco to live with her more down to Earth sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). We learn via series of flashbacks that Ginger and her then husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay…yes, really) had won a substantial amount of money in the lottery. Jasmine and Hal had invested the money, but when Hal was arrested by the Feds, he (and subsequently Jasmine) lost everything they had. Lonely, confused and slightly insane, Jasmine pops Xanax and gulps down martinis to ease the pain. Her goal is get back on her feet, make a name for herself but she’s finding it easier said than done.
There are a few things I’d like to divulge about the plot, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone else. Suffice it to say that Blue Jasmine is a great movie with an outstanding performance by Cate Blanchett. I’ll come right out and say that if this role doesn’t garner her her second Best Actress Oscar, there’s something seriously wrong with the Academy voters. This is her movie. Period. Allen’s casting is on par with some of this other films, relying on an ensemble and varied cast of characters to move the movie forward. Comics like Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay hold their own with veteran actors like Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin. Amazing. While Blue Jasmine might not be regarded as one of Allen’s best movies (though it’s considered one of his best in recent years), it should be said that the performances, particularly that of Blanchett, are second to none. Highly recommended.
Video: How’s it look?
In recent years, Allen has chosen a wider scope for his films and though San Francisco’s true glory isn’t showcased here, we do get some of the sights. The entire palette used seems very warm and inviting. Yellows and earthy tones seem to dominate in this 2.40:1 AVC HD image. A few of the scenes have a naturalistic grainy look to them, but it’s not all bad. In fact I rather liked it. Detail is on par with most other new to Blu-ray releases as we see the tiny laugh lines of Blanchett’s face, the intricate details of the luxurious homes and everything in between. Simply put, there’s not a lot to complain about here and it’s another shining example of what to expect from a new to the format disc.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Until recently, most of Allen’s films were presented in a mono sound mix and while not disappointing this DTS HD Master Audio track isn’t one that will challenge your system. The movie is about as dialogue driven as they come, with words galore filling each and every scene. Surrounds make their presence known a few times, but by and large this is a surround track if there ever was one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that we’re finally getting a few more channels of sound out of an Allen movie, but he’s got a long way to go before the LFE kicks in. Nothing really to complain about here either, it serves its purpose and delivers.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Most Woody Allen films are pretty light on supplemental materials and this one follows suit.
- Notes from the Red Carpet – Just that. A brief segment with plenty of action in the background and a few of the stars of the movie answer some canned questions.
- Blue Jasmine Press Conference – Stars Andrew Dice Clay, Cate Blanchett and Peter Sarsgaard participate in a Q & A session with the press and answer questions regarding the movie, working with Allen and pretty much everything in between.
- Theatrical Trailer