Blue Jasmine: A Dazzling Tale of a Faded Woman

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Upon your first glance, Jasmine Francis (Cate Blanchett) is a snob. Her chronicle of her marriage to an undefended elderly woman harangues over the course of the journey from the first class cabin to the San Francisco airport’s baggage claim, where she enlists a fellow passenger to retrieve her Louis Vuitton suitcases. You chuckle at how ridiculous she is; you may even hate her.
Then you realize Jasmine has been talking to herself the entire time, and wonder what has left this woman so deluded.

Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen’s latest film, doubles as a modern interpretation of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer-winning play about an elite woman’s decline. Following her husband Hal’s arrest for fraud, Jasmine (née Jeanette), a New York socialite, downgrades to San Francisco to live with her estranged sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) because she simply has nowhere else to go. As expected, Jasmine doesn’t settle into her new middle-class neighborhood so easily. In her struggle to get her life back on track, Jasmine encounters guilt, grief, and a series of panic attacks she offsets by popping Xanax and draining Ginger’s vodka supply. Jasmine’s new life is interlaced with flashbacks of her complicated marriage to Hal (Alec Baldwin). Allen’s orchestration of these flashbacks, along with Cate Blanchett’s striking performance, spectacularly conveys Jasmine’s mental illness. Even when they are laden with tension and strife, these flashbacks are luxurious in their rich detail, setting, and lighting. After the flashbacks end, we’re greeted with a close shot of Jasmine trembling and mumbling to herself. Allen pulls us back into her present, which is defined by her neurotic soliloquies. We feel like we’re experiencing Jasmine’s flashbacks and anxiety attacks, and Allen’s tactic is spectacular.

Jasmine, however, is not the only character with a problem, and her plagues don’t dominate the film’s screen time. Ginger is trapped in a cycle of dating different versions of the same man, who in this case happens to be “Streetcar’s” Stanley Kowalski.  Jasmine advises Ginger to date a different type of person, which prompts an affair with Al (Louis C.K.), a “nice guy” she meets at an elitist party. Meanwhile, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), Ginger’s ex-husband, still resents Jasmine for initiating a business deal gone wrong between him and Hal.

In addition to the greed that comes with glamour, Jasmine tackles mental illness extraordinarily well. Coming from someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, Blanchett’s interpretation of Jasmine’s episodes was hauntingly accurate. Blanchett also effortlessly channels Jasmine’s snobbery. Her tone is stuffy and cool, and her motions are as airy and ethereal as the patio at Hal’s Hamptons beach house. Blanchett’s portrayal of Jasmine’s annoyance, such as when Ginger’s fiancée Chili (Bobby Cannavale) sets her up on a date, is humorous; her interpretation of panic during Jasmine’s attempted rape scene is as strong as the situation is horrifying. There’s no way she’s walking away from the film without an award. Jasmine’s supporting roles and casting were done well. Alec Baldwin owns sleazy Hal so that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing him. Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) makes Ginger’s romantic insecurity and forgiving nature charming. Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire), in his blue-collared auto shop uniform with “Chili” monogrammed above the right breast, screams working class.

This film is one of the better movies I have seen this year. Although Allen isn’t telling an original story, the deftness and confidence of its execution make it one well worth watching. It is engaging, poignant and makes you think. Blue Jasmine is beautiful – it’s terrifying, but it’s beautiful. 

I Need You – Yes, You

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It seems I’ve become a master of absentee blogging – and by that, I just mean that I’m really good at neglecting things. Sorry. I was busy, and now I’m lazy and self-conscious. But disregard that, because it isn’t why I’m writing this post.
I’m writing this post because of school. I’m currently in a class where I have to create my own journalistic startup company (for any of you in Grady, it’s called Entreprenurial Journalism with Greenman, and I give it as many thumbs up emojis as my phone could fit into a text message or tweet or something), and I’ve got a good idea. A good one. And I’m currently in the phase of my product where I’m developing my audience (and I don’t think linearly, so I’m also thinking about potential advertisers and establishments I would feature on my site) and seeing if anybody would actually use my site.

My idea is something I like to call Townie Travels.

  • Townie Travels is going to be an Athens travel site that is specific in that it will cover all of the neighborhoods here (unless I decide to skimp out on Watkinsville and Bogart, I need input on that).
  • Why should you care or show any interest? Because Athens isn’t just UGA or downtown – it’s a whole city. There are over 116,000 people here, and a lot of those people aren’t students. There are things happening besides shows or little craft fairs downtown (not that those aren’t great and won’t be covered). However, if those things aren’t going on in your neighborhood, you probably don’t know about them. Look at Flagpole – they post tons of event previews every week, but you’re primarily reading about things going on downtown.
  • This is where Townie Travels would come in. Athens is more than one neighborhood, and people should be able to experience that.

I should also go ahead and present the demographics of my audience (I even have a nice, crude diagram):

  • Townie Travels would primarily aim towards people who live here and aren’t enrolled in university. This crowd would be in the 30s-40s age bracket and would most likely have families and pets. These people also likely have jobs. What else are these people like? Well, maybe they’re stressed. Maybe they want to have a nice weekend, but can’t afford or mentally handle the drive to Atlanta or the mountains. They don’t want to travel far – they also want their kids to have a good time (and according to my research thus far, there are a lot of parents here who aren’t aware of activities or programs that kids could participate in), and maybe they want to bring their dog along, because that dog is crying and these people have hearts (Did you know there are bars here that allow dogs? Well, now you do.)
  • The secondary aim is going to be most of the Athenians who see this post: transient Athenians. They’re in college, they just graduated and want to stay here, or they just moved here. They want to explore their new city, and wouldn’t it be great for them to know that there’s more to Athens than college culture (which is great, but, you know, there’s more!). Or, perhaps in their short or nascent time here, they need to entertain members of my third group:
  • Visitors – parents, sisters, cousins, brothers, friends, colleagues, pen pals, grandparents, high school classmates, in-laws – are my final target audience. How does this apply to you? Well, you’ll probably have a visitor during your time here. What if your grandparents are visiting and you want to take them to lunch? Townie Travels could recommend a restaurant that’s not too far away for you. Less distance, less hassle.
  • Below is my lovely diagram:

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Or maybe you’re wondering about how I’d make money. Well, I’ve thought about that too. I’d aim for advertisements for local businesses (oh yeah – Athens is also unique in that its passion for local business is really strong, and you can bet I’ll feature them on my site), and have a donate button somewhere for anyone who’s feeling generous. But I also have some other ideas, like raffles and wristbands. Users could pay a dollar for a drawing for something like a ticket to a local concert or gift card to a local shop. Or they could buy a wristband for a little restaurant tour or bar crawl itinerary I’d set up, and customers with a wristband would get a discount.

As you can see, I’ve thought about this startup a lot. So, why on earth would project this be problematic?
My mind is exploding with ideas all the time. My thoughts aren’t really linear or fluid unless I’ve had a lot of iced coffee. Seriously, right now I’m working on three different paragraphs at the same time. So I miss things, or lots of my ideas don’t fully develop.
This is where I need you.
I need you to tell me what you think. Yeah, it would be awesome if you like my idea, but if something is bothering you, I want to know about it. Criticize me! Tell me my thought process is scribbly! Tell me how I could improve! Give me suggestions! This startup isn’t about me, it’s about Athens, and there’s a chance it’s about you.