Friday, June 28, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine / Blue Jasmine. US © 2013 Gravier Productions. EX: LeRoy Schechter, Adam  B. Stern. Co-EX: Jack Rollins. P: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson. D+SC: Woody Allen. DP: Javier Aguirresarobe - DI: Company 3. PD: Santo Loquasto. VFX: Phosphene, Method Studios. Cost: Suzy Benzinger. M: no composed score - compilation of jazz classics etc. Theme tune: "Blue Moon". ED: Alisa Lepselter. Casting: Juliet Taylor, Patricia DiCerto. C: Starring (in alphabetical order): Alec Baldwin (Hal), Cate Blanchett (Jasmine), Louis C.K. (Al), Bobby Cannavale (Chili), Andrew Dice Clay (Augie), Sally Hawkins (Ginger), Peter Sarsgaard (Dwight), Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Flicker). Co-starring (in alphabetical order): Tammy Blanchard (Jasmine's Friend Jane), Max Casella (Eddie), Alden Ehrenreich (Danny). Loc: New York, San Francisco. 98 min. Release date NY/LA 26 July 2013. Scanbox preview, 2K DCP without subtitles at Cinema Andorra, Helsinki, 28 June 2013

Technical specs from the IMdB: Sound Mix: Dolby Digital - Color: Color - Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 - Camera: Arricam LT, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses, Arricam ST, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses - Negative Format: 35 mm (Kodak Vision3 500T 5219) - Cinematographic Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (3-perf) (source format), Printed Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic), D-Cinema.

Synopsis from the pressbook: "After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again."

"Jasmine arrives in San Francisco in a fragile mental state, her head reeling from the cocktail of anti-depressants she’s on. While still able to project her aristocratic bearing, Jasmine is emotionally precarious and lacks any practical ability to support herself. She disapproves of Ginger’s boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), who she considers another “loser” like Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay). Ginger, recognizing but not fully understanding her sister’s psychological instability, suggests that she pursue interior design, a career she correctly intuits that Jasmine won’t feel is beneath her. In the meantime, Jasmine begrudgingly accepts work as the receptionist in a dentist’s office, where she attracts the unwanted attentions of her boss, Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg)."

"Feeling that her sister might be right about her poor taste in men, Ginger starts seeing Al (Louis C.K.), a sound engineer whom she considers as a step up from Chili. Jasmine sees a potential lifeline when she meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a diplomat who is quickly smitten with her beauty, sophistication and style."

"Jasmine’s flaw is that she derives her worth from the way she’s perceived by others, while she herself is blind to what is going around her. Delicately portrayed by a regal Cate Blanchett, Jasmine earns our compassion because she is the unwitting instrument of her own downfall. Woody Allen’s new drama BLUE JASMINE is about the dire consequences that can result when people avert their eyes from reality and the truth they don’t want to see."

After lightweight comedies such as Paris at Midnight and To Rome with Love Woody Allen has made a strong drama.

It's a drama with a female leading role deserving of comparison to such works as A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and Autumn Sonata by Ingmar Bergman. The great performance by Cate Blanchett as Jasmine carries the film. It is one of her best performances, and one of the finest in Allen's films.

Woody Allen has had a rare continuity in his film career since the 1960s. Not many directors have been able to make films for mainstream distribution for such a long time - during six decades - without compromises.

Allen has also been able constantly to rejuvenate himself. Partly this has taken place quite simply by making films abroad, like in Great Britain, France, Spain, and Italy.

Another simple and effective method of rejuvenation has been casting: he always finds actors that are new and fresh to him, also enjoying super ensembles with inspired combinations.

Allen has again "returned" to the U.S. after three European productions.

A good drama is based on contrast. Here it's about the rich and the poor, and New York and San Francisco.

In Annie Hall, New York was about intellect, California about hedonism. Here the New York life is fake, San Francisco more authentic.

The movie proceeds on two time dimensions: the present in San Francisco, where Jasmine tries to launch a new life, and flashbacks to the golden life in New York.

Jasmine has experienced a mental breakdown. She has been married to the financial speculator Hal. Hal's real estate projects have collapsed, his fraud has been exposed, and he has hanged himself in prison. Jasmine has lost everything, including her expensive lifestyle. She has even had "Edison medicine" (electric shocks) for her mental collapse. She is on a heavy diet of antidepressants. She drinks. "Jasmine has had a habit of looking the other way", observes her sister Ginger. She has also learned to cultivate a way of evading the truth. Even the name Jasmine is not original, but there is poetry in the choice of the name: jasmine is "a flower which comes alive at night".

"I don't know what to do with the rest of my life" is the observation of Jasmine upon her arrival in San Francisco.. Jasmine tries to build a new life by educating herself to become an interior decorator online. That is why she starts to take lessons in computers, of which she understands nothing. Computer language is "like Suahili to her".

She makes ends meet by working as a receptionist at a dentist, who, however starts to make passes at her.

She really hits it off with the diplomat Dwight, but when her lies are exposed, Dwight cancels the plan to buy their engagement rings at the very door of the jeweller. Jasmine starts to lose herself deeper into her delusions.

All through the picture Jasmine has blamed her sister Ginger for dating losers. But finally Ginger gets to say that Jasmine has dated the biggest loser of all. Because of Hal the lives of everybody around him have been ruined.

Blue Jasmine is one of the richest, deepest, and most tragic works of Woody Allen.

There is a lot of humour in it. The satire of the dream life based on financial fraud is forceful, but there is a sense of avoiding exaggeration in a topic that does not need any.

During the digital transition there has been a period of insecurity in the visual quality of Woody Allen's films, which used to look brilliant. Blue Jasmine is a step to better quality from the previous ones. Blue Jasmine has still been shot on 35 mm photochemical film, and the digital intermediate has been conducted more successfully than in Allen's previous films.

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