Monday, July 29, 2013

Blue Jasmine Review

I used to say that if a movie was good I didn't mind knowing everything that happens in it.  The experience of seeing a film that's well made is all you need, it's not about the plot.  That's what I used to say.  Looking back I was like someone who knows they're in a flawed relationship and plays it up defensively. My relationship with movies used to have a lot to do with reading reviews filled with spoilers, a habit I got hooked on as a ten year old. Stories are best when they unfold whole before you.  I believe now that a good book, film, etc. is best enjoyed as a great surprise. All you need to know going in is that you have solid reason to put good odds on it being something that's of a quality which will make it worth your time.

Blue Jasmine is in my opinion a film that's worth your time.  I will try to tell you what makes it a very good piece of art without saying anything that will mar your movie-viewing experience.

First of all it helps if you weren't thrown by my referring to a movie as art. Are you the kind of person that seeks independent films, or big studio films masquerading as indie movies? Is the theater near you that plays these kind of movies (if there is one) your theater? Do you wait for the next Woody Allen movie and hope it will get good enough reviews/word of mouth that you'll want to see it? Did you answer yes to any of these questions? If so, then you'll probably want to see Blue Jasmine; you'll most likely consider it a well done film that you're glad you saw.

I laughed a couple of times but this is by no means a comedy.  The little bit of humor in it is raw, wry, and dry. I laughed a few times when the people around me didn't laugh and vice-versa (as is par for the course when I see movies). I think all those moments when there was a smattering of laughter had a funny side to them in an awkward - funny because it's true - kind of way. Mostly, if the plot would be called funny it would not be in a ha ha kind of way.

The acting is top notch and the editing, something I don't usually notice, was outstanding; I think you'll notice it too. I don't think what I just wrote was a spoiler but explaining it further would require giving away an integral part of the movie. The lead actress is getting a lot of acclaim, which is deserved.  I think the supporting actress has in some ways a harder job, as her role is less over the top, and she hits it out of the park. The other roles are all well done and as always it's fun to see actors you know from other contexts that Woody Allen (and his casting director) handpicked for these parts. Not one minor character feels minor.

Blue Jasmine is a rich tapestry of memorable people who get you to watch them living their lives in a heightened yet realistic way. For what it's worth I think there will be Oscar nominations for the acting in this film.  (Woody Allen says that he gives more weight to the track and field trophies he earned as a kid than to the Academy Awards.) Despite his love/hate relationship with the Academy, Woody may well be in store for some major nominations for Blue Jasmine.

If you're not into comic book blockbusters then this is a movie for you.. If you want your films to be as sophisticated as other things that you value in your life then this is a movie for you. If you like movies whose biggest special effects are the ways that they get you to think about how people complicate this thing we call life then this is a film for you.

No need to run, it's just a movie.  But I recommend you walk or drive to a theater near you and see this top notch film.