Blue Jasmine: When Cate Met Peter, Dice and Louis

by Ethan Alter July 23, 2013 9:38 am
<i>Blue Jasmine</i>: When Cate Met Peter, Dice and Louis

After spending midnight in Paris and sending a mash note to Rome, with love, Woody Allen is back on U.S. soil for his latest film, Blue Jasmine, which divides its time between New York and San Francisco. The drama, which bears the obvious influence of both the Bernie Madoff affair as well as Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, stars Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a former member of the Big Apple's upper crust brought low by the financial crimes perpetrated by her husband (Alec Baldwin). Decamping for the Bay Area, she moves in with her working class sister, Ginger, (Sally Hawkins) and the move takes its toll on her already fragile state of mind. Given her track record, it's no surprise that Blanchett's performance is already attracting Oscar buzz, but what is a surprise are the dramatic turns delivered by two guys better known for making people laugh: Andrew Dice Clay, who plays Ginger's uncouth ex-husband, and Louis C.K., who plays her new beau. Blanchett, Clay, Louis C.K. and Peter Sarsgaard (who has a small role as Jasmine's love interest) held court at a New York press conference for the film and discussed working with Woody Allen (as Louis C.K. told it, his first meeting with Woody could be its own Louie episode) and the movie's depiction of America's ongoing class divide.

Green Lantern: A Hero Falls

by Ethan Alter June 17, 2011 6:00 am
<i>Green Lantern</i>: A Hero Falls

There's an interesting conceit at the core of Green Lantern, the otherwise overstuffed and clumsy superhero outing starring DC Comics' ring-wielding interstellar cop. Instead of pitting Hall Jordan and his emerald knight alter ego (played by Ryan Reynolds, in his third comic book-inspired outing after Blade: Trinity and X-Men Origins: Wolverine) against a bad guy bent on world domination, the screenwriters -- a four-man team that includes TV veteran Greg Berlanti and comic book scribe Marc Guggenheim -- make his primary enemy his own fear and self-doubt. Okay, so technically the film does feature a bad guy bent on world domination, an enormous yellow space cloud named Parallax that's floating towards Earth with plans to feast on the terror of the entire populace. But thematically, Parallax is just a giant, gaseous manifestation of Hal's shaky confidence in himself and his ability to be the hero his world requires. When he stares into the cloud's vaguely demonic face, he doesn't just see a villain that needs defeating -- he sees his own inadequacies reflected back at him.

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