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.

Blue Jasmine: Oh, Streetcar!

by Ethan Alter July 26, 2013 5:50 am
<i>Blue Jasmine</i>: Oh, Streetcar!

If you want to see what capital-A Acting looks like, take a gander at Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen's latest feature, Blue Jasmine. As the title character, an absurdly wealthy New York socialite forced to drastically downsize her life after her swindling husband (Alec Baldwin) is unmasked as a Madoff-like fraud, Blanchett is a whirlwind of nervous tics and harried mannerisms, having clearly embraced the "more is more" -- as opposed to "less is more" -- school of film performance. In that respect at least, she's carrying on the tradition of the broadly neurotic hero that Allen used to portray in movie after movie. But where Allen's persona was generally of sound mind despite his occasionally questionable behavior, Jasmine's general flibbertigibbet-ness comes from her increasingly shaky hold on reality in the wake of her fall from societal grace. As the movie continues and Blanchett's performance grows more manic than comic, the dark secret of her character is laid bare: we're not watching Jasmineā€¦ this is Blanche freakin' DuBois!

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