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Blue Jasmine (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 5, 2014 by  



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An intelligent film that is possibly the most tragic of Woody Allen movies and featuring a Oscar-winning performance by Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” is unlike any Woody Allen film that you will ever see and one that is also thought-provoking at the same time.   And for a filmmaker and writer who has continued to direct a new  original film nearly every year, for over fifty years, “Blue Jasmine” is another film that makes us feel happy due to its unpredictable nature and ending but also showing is that Woody Allen still has that magic that has captivated generations for many decades.  “Blue Jasmine” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Gravier Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blue Jasmine

MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 98 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French

RATED: PG-13 (For Mature Thematica Material Language and Sexual Content)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: January 21, 2014

Directed by Woody Allen

Written by Woody Allen

Executive Producer: Leroy Schecter, Adam B. Stern

Co-Executive Producer: Jack Rollins

Producer: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson

Co-Producer: Helen Robin

Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe

Edited by Alisa Lepselter

Casting by Patricia Kerrigan DiCerto, Juliet Taylor

Production Design by Santo Loquasto

Art Direction: Michael E. Goldman, Doug Huszti

Set Decoration by Kris Boxell, Regina Graves

Costume Design by Suzy Benzinger

Starring:

Cate Blanchett as Jasmine

Alec Baldwin as Hal

Sally Hawkins as Ginger

Andrew Dice Clay as Augie

Bobby Cannavale as Chili

Max Casella as Eddie

Ali Fedotowsky as Melanie

Louis C.K. as Al

Peter Sarsgaard as Dwight

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.

Each year, we can always expect a Woody Allen film.

And with each film, many often wonder if Woody Allen (“Annie Hall”, “Manhattan”, “Midnight in Paris”)  can retain the brilliance that he has brought to the big screen since the late ’60s.

One of the few living directors in America who has been able to released marketable films but also one of the few filmmakers to be able to release a film nearly every year  (since 1971, the only years he did not release a film was in 1971, 1974 and 1981), in 2013, Woody Allen released his 45th film “Blue Jasmine”, a film which he wrote and directed.

Starring Cate Blanchett (“Lord of the Rings” films, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Elizabeth”), Alec Baldwin (“Beetlejuice”, “The Departed”, “30 Rock”), Sally Hawkins (“Made in Dagenham”, “Happy Go-Lucky”, “Layer Cake”), Bobby Cannavale (“Win Win”, “The Bone Collector”, “Parker”, “The Station Agent”), Louis C.K. (“Louie”, “Down to Earth”), Andrew Dice Clay (“Pretty in Pink”, “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane”), Max Cassella (“Doogie Howser, M.D.”, “Ed Wood”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”) and Peter Sarsgaard (“Flightplan”, “Green Lantern”, “Jarhead”), the film would receive critical praise from critics worldwide.

And now “Blue Jasmine” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in Jan. 2014.

“Blue Jasmine” revolves around a woman named Jasmine (portrayed by Cate Blanchett) who was once a wealthy woman married to Hal (portrayed by Alec Baldwin) who embezzled, spent and lost a lot of the money of investors.

Divorced, poor and suffering anxiety issues, Jasmine is unable to continue her lifestyle and moves to San Francisco and live with her step-sister Ginger (portrayed by Sally Hawkins), a single of mother of two who is now engaged to a mechanic named Chili (portrayed by Bobby Cannavale).

While we are given flashbacks of Jasmine and Ginger’s life in the past.

Jasmine who lived a life of luxury and being vain, but yet believed in her husband Hal, who is messing around with other women behind her back.

Meanwhile, Ginger was married to Augie (portrayed by Andrew Dice Clay) and we learn how Ginger and Augie went to New York City after winning the lottery, Ginger’s first time visiting her step-sister in many years and trying to get financial advice of what to do with the money.  Augie wants to invest it into a construction business but Jasmine tells her sister and Augie to invest their money with her husband Hal.

As Jasmine doesn’t want Ginger and Augie to be around them (as they are not the type to be around the upperclass), she still tries to help them enjoy their trip to New York City and books a limousine tour around the city and that is where Ginger spots Hal making out with another woman, a woman who is good friends with Jasmine.

But we are also given a glimpse of how Hal was looked at a successful financial businessman, philanthropist and popular businessman, especially by their son Danny (portrayed by Aiden Ehrenreich), who is treated with respect at Harvard.  But then after the arrest of Hal, we see the disintegration of the family and how their son was so embarrassed by his father’s crime that he had to quit Harvard.

Jasmine tries to learn how to get a job and learn how to use a computer via an online class and become an interior designer.  But to afford the class, she takes a job as a secretary for Dr. Flicker (portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg), a man who is smitten with Jasmine.

But life for Jasmine has been challenging and as we see her past life and the present, we see how Jasmine was during her best times married to Hal, the worst times after he was arrested but also during the time he confronts him about his affairs and how Hal was arrested for his crime.

But to see if Jasmine will be able to move on with her life after Hal.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Blue Jasmine” is presented in 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and audio is presented in English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital with Subtitles in English, English SDH and French.

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality of this film, the Blu-ray release of “Blue Jasmine” is the way to go!  But as for the DVD itself, picture quality is good on DVD, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or any issues with overall PQ.

As for audio, “Blue Jasmine” features clear dialogue and an enjoyable musical soundtrack.  The film is primarily dialogue-driven and if anything, it’s an appropriate center and front-channel driven soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blue Jasmine” comes with the following special features:

  • Notes from the Red Carpet(5:53) Interviews with the cast of “Blue Jasmine” about their character and working with Woody Allen.
  • Blue Jasmine Cast Press Conference – (24:58) Los Angeles Press Conference with Andrew Dice Clay, Cate Blanchett and Peter Sarsgaard.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:51) Theatrical trailer for “Blue Jasmine”.

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Many people criticize Woody Allen’s film each and every year, some who say he is a man who has lost his brilliance, others who say that a certain film harkens to his most wonderful work.

Suffice to say, everyone has an opinion on a Woody Allen film but many people still want to see each year of what kind of film he is going to make.  Typically romantic comedies with intelligent writing, witty humor and wonderful jazz music, his films have been for the most part, delightful and upbeat despite troubled relationships here and there.

But with “Blue Jasmine”, Allen’s film maintains the intelligent writing, the witty humor and a wonderful performance from actress Cate Blanchett, but is more of tragic film than a hopeful, upbeat film which will once again, bring out many critics who will praise Woody Allen for stepping outside of the box and doing something different, while others who feel the storyline is too real and dramatic and not as accessible.

The fact is that this film takes a story from front page news ala Bernie Madoff or similar type of storyline of investors who bilked their clients money and lost it all.

We know from various news reports about the families of those responsible have been destroyed, not knowing of how far of a destructive and callous lifestyle their loved one was living.  Thinking that the wealth and lifestyle they lived on was on hard work, but instead finding out that these financial frauds who orchestrated these schemes were downright rotten to the core.

For the protagonist Jasmine, Cate Blanchett plays the character with such efficacy that I do believe is deserving of an Oscar nomination.  Portraying an anxiety-ridden, broken woman that needs stability and a support system, which unfortunately she is not going to get with her current attitude.  But there is no doubt that losing her husband, losing her wealth and losing all things important to her has left her a broken woman.

Jasmine is a character that part of you feels bad for her but also part of you despises her.  She is a person who is vain, who lived a life of privilege with wealth and aside from her social circle, she looked down upon her sister Ginger and her first husband Augie.

And then you see her with nothing.  No longer part of that social circle, broke and in need of desperate help but she pushes her sister away because she wants to feel better than her.  Her belief that she is better than not so wealthy people because of where she lived previously but to everyone else, including her sister and new fiance.  The wealthy environment that she is from is built upon the money that her husband had scammed from others.

Also, another fascinating part of this film is how Woody Allen took these characters and put them in different situations.  Bobby Cannavale’s role as Chili, is very abrasive.  While Andrew Dice Clay’s character is serious and for the most part, a character unlike anything he has played before.  We see a surprising performance from the comedian and we also see a different side of Louis C.K. in this film, more reserved and not at all like his comedic side nor any character he had played before.

Alec Baldwin also does a good job playing as the deceitful husband, Sally Hawkins as the step-sister Ginger, who had always wanted to be like Jasmine but in an interesting role reversal, which sister is actually happy?  Which sister came out doing well for herself as an adult?

As for the DVD, it’s important to note that if you want the best picture quality of this film, then you will want to purchase the Blu-ray release of “Blue Jasmine”.  Otherwise, the film looks good on DVD and surprisingly, another Woody Allen film to be released on Blu-ray and DVD that has several special features.

But overall, “Blue Jasmine” is a Woody Allen film from aesthetics to music and wit, but there is no doubt that Allen wanted to try something different this time around.  No shooting in Europe, no young love and instead of focusing on love, we get the opposite with “Blue Jasmine”.

An intelligent film that is possibly the most tragic of Woody Allen movies and featuring a Oscar-winning performance by Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” is unlike any Woody Allen film that you will ever see and one that is also thought-provoking at the same time.   And for a filmmaker and writer who has continued to direct a new  original film nearly every year, for over fifty years, “Blue Jasmine” is another film that makes us feel happy due to its unpredictable nature and ending but also showing is that Woody Allen still has that magic that has captivated generations for many decades.

“Blue Jasmine” is recommended!

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