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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BLUE JASMINE (2013)

Woody Allen re-imagines the main players of the Bernard Madoff investment scandal (a Ponzi scheme with billions lost) using Tennessee Williams' A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE as his structural template. And though it was extremely well received on its release, it already looks pretty forced, very square peg in round hole. It’s certainly well played (who knew Andrew Dice Clay had acting potential?), but even some of the best things in it don’t quite add up. Cate Blanchett, in the Blanche DuBois spot, does a dead-on Lauren Bacall vocal. It’s accomplished, alright, but quintessential Upper West Side; quite the wrong side of Central Park. A small thing, but endemic of too many little touches in the pic. Like showing her as SmartPhone savvy, but computer-phobic. (A generational gaffe by Allen?) Or being totally unrecognized as a disgraced public figure when she goes to live with her no-class sister on the West Coast. In today’s social media world? Just as jarring as having a trio of ‘Dese-Dem-Dose’ louts hang out to watch 'the fights' rather than football. What year is this film supposed to take place in? By the time Blanchett is babbling away to herself on a park bench, you’d have thought someone might have mentioned to Allen that she’d look less like a crazy person and more like someone on a cell phone. STREETCAR brought reserves of wonder & pity to its characters (along with Williams’ poetic voice); Allen merely shuffles between misogyny & the misanthropic.

DOUBLE-BILL/SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Allen’s plot lifts come High (A PLACE IN THE SUN’51 becomes MATCH POINT/’05 or LA STRADA/’54 is shrunk into SWEET AND LOWDOWN/’99); and Low (LARCENY, INC/’42 inspires SMALL TIME CROOKS/’00). No doubt, a doctoral thesis will soon set them all out.

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