Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blue Jasmine Review

Woody Allen is probably one of the best, or at least most accomplished directors in movie history as he's been directing and starring in movies since the late 60's. His directorial debut came in 1966 with "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" and has since then has just about directed a movie per year, starring in a lot of them. At nearly age 80 now, he is still going strong and even had one of his most successful movies two years ago with "Midnight in Paris". This year's movie of his is called Blue Jasmine and has been in limited release for several weeks now and just now got put into wide release. In fact, at 1200 theaters, it is one of his widest releases ever and with that it showed up this weekend in several of my local theaters, so I decided to give it a shot. Woody Allen is often hit and miss, but despite the great reviews, this one is more of a miss for me.

Blue Jasmine is a character drama about a crazy woman named Jasmine that is a real mental case and because of that has more or less screwed herself over. After a string of unfortunate events, which we find out in more depth as the movie goes on, she goes to live with her sister in San Francisco to try straighten her life out. Just like our title character, this movie is a real mental case and I don't mean that in an artistically done way at all. The movie is all over the place. Like literally. It doesn't really go in chronological order and bounces back and forth from past to present to future. Now doing things flashback style like this is something I am not opposed to. My favorite TV series Lost does it this way and I think that is a brilliant show. However, this time around is really confusing because it transitions real smoothly from present to past and back. In fact, it does it so smoothly that a lot of the times I almost missed the transition and thus throughout the movie I get confused as to whether we are in the past, present, or future. One second we are with Jasmine in San Francisco and the other second we are with Jasmine in New York. And on top of all that, I never really got too invested into the story which is just about the relationship problems of two sisters and thus I found myself really bored rather quickly.

Despite the confusing, disconnected, uninteresting story, I really have to applaud the cast in the movie, especially Cate Blanchett who plays our title character Jasmine. By goodness she does an amazing job of being this crazy, psychotic woman. She currently has a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding her after this performance and I am all in for that. And actually as I was watching this movie, her performance reminded me a lot of Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates in the new TV series Bates Motel. Vera does an amazing job of playing Norman Bates' crazy mother in the very good Psycho prequel series that is only one season in so far. Cate is definitely on the same level. But Cate isn't the only brilliant one. Jasmine's sister Ginger is played by Sally Hawkins who does a great job of being pretty much the exact opposite of Jasmine. As both go through multiple guys, all those guys do a pretty good job and the biggest name is Alec Baldwin, but my favorite performance out of all of them is Bobby Cannavale, who plays one of Ginger's guys.

Overall, despite the fantastic acting that almost makes up for the poor story, I left the theater feeling unsatisfied. The movie wasn't anything fantastic or original and although I didn't fall asleep in it, I almost did a few different times because of how confusing and boring it is. If you want to give the movie a shot, I wouldn't say it would be the worst decision you could make, but there's also plenty of better options and I would advise you to pick something else and wait till this movie is a bit cheaper. Cate Blanchett's performance is definitely two thumbs way, way up, but I would give the movie itself a 6 out of 10.

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