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. 

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7 Things I Really Like

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My baby computer is back from my local PeachMac with a brand new battery and that means my technological issues are now sailing smoothly. No pages have frozen and there have been no random shutdowns. I really like this new battery. I really like my computer. I really like having a fully functional computer again, especially because my new battery was completely free (thanks, Apple Care). In honor of my baby computer’s recovery, I’ve decided to keep things very positive and elaborate on some things I really like.
This might as well be a peek into my soul.

1) Lomographic film
It’s a little pricey, but I think it’s completely worth it. Well, film is usually a little pricey. Let’s just say it costs more than Kodak. The film comes in a variety of speeds and even comes in 120 mm.
I have a few rolls on me, but I’m saving them for Austria. If I’m going to use film over there, I might as well try to make the pictures look as beautiful as the actual place will be.
Look at the colors! And I used a shitty scanner.

2) Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes

Whenever I have these, I conserve them because they smell so good and I think it’s kind of ridiculous to spend $6.50 on a packet of 30 makeup-removing wipes every week or two when I can just use water and toilet paper (I don’t wear much makeup, so I can get away with that.)
These towelettes really do the job, though. That’s why I save them. I need them for the nights I actually decide to wear a lot of makeup (by a lot of makeup, I mean mascara – hey, it’s a bitch to remove).
Plus they have white tea in them so they smell amazing and feel nice and cold. Perhaps the temperature of the wipes has nothing to do with the tea, but I like to think it does.


3) Lipstick
When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever wear lipstick because the kind my mom wore smelled weird and chalky. Within the last few years, however, I’ve really grown to love lipstick because despite its appearance, it’s actually pretty low-maintenance, which is perfect for somebody who doesn’t like to put a huge effort into her appearance when it comes to makeup (me). Lipstick is so classy and womanly and people never really think about how it only takes about ten seconds to put it on.


4) Word Warp
A few years ago, my mom bought me a puzzle book from Starbucks that was decked out with cartoony illustrations of birds and bugs and several different types of word games. That book is what first got me hooked on the anagram. I filled the puzzles out quickly, and have been searching for a replica of the anagrams I solved in that book ever since. The closest I have come to that is Word Warp.
The objective is pretty simple: a number of letters is provided, and you have to form as many words as you possibly can from them. There is a time limit, but you can get rid of that in the settings. And for a logophile, it is extremely addicting.


5) The Gabe Giraffe
I think this one is self-explanatory. Pardon the messy state of my room.
I also have a bag graced with this giraffe. Be jealous.

 

6) Beluga Whales
They’re smart, they’re adorable, and they’re always smiling. Plus they like mariachi bands. What’s not to love?

7) Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
The spectrum of characters in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide is fantastic. Immaculate, even. There’s Cookie, who’s half-boy, half-cyborg. And Lisa Zemo, the girl who suffers extreme allergies but then gets on new allergy meds in the third season and becomes insanely hot. And Vice Principal Krubbs, who only wears white suits, is obsessed with flamingoes, and decided to become a vice principal after quitting his job as a vice cop because the profession still had the word “vice” in it. And Dr. Xavier, the 8th grade math teacher with a thick Russian accent who makes her students wear “math smocks” and preaches her very own aphorism, “without math, we are cavemen eating mud.” And Gordy, the janitor who is constantly outsmarted by a weasel that lives inside the school. And don’t you even think that I forgot about Coconut Head.
This is, undisputedly, the greatest show ever. I only wish my middle school experience could have been similar.
I will now bid you farewell using Coconut Head’s visage.