Friday, June 7, 2013

"Blue Jasmine" and the Annual Struggle to Maintain Devotion to Woody Allen

"I don't think I can take it.  For some reason my Xanax isn't kicking in."
Every year, more and more around this time like clockwork, Woody Allen releases his latest film.  It's insane to think it through, actually, considering the consistency.  It's a minor miracle of sorts, considering all the inanity that comes along with the release of a motion picture these days.  That he can write one off each year whilst still maintaining a top-drawer ensemble and finding funding to boot.  The mixed bag of America's favorite screenwriter is that the last two decades have been a decidedly mixed bag.  To the point that we must meet his next project with such a cautious optimism-- I sort of parental, "I hope he doesn't screw this one up" sort of vibe.  All that being said, his latest-- a dramedy inspired in sorts by the Bernie Madoff scandal of excess gone to stink (which couldn't be more timely, come to think of it)-- Blue Jasmine on first glance looks, dare I say, rather juicy.  Cate Blanchett plays the lead, an unhinged woman whose wealth and marriage have gone down the tube, and she is supported by an eclectic ensemble cast including Sally Hawkins (in a hopeful return to the promise she exhibited in 2008's Happy-Go-Lucky), Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis CK, Michael Stuhlbarg and most peculiarly, Andrew Dice Clay.  One reason for the hope must surely be presented in the form of Blanchett herself, who hasn't headlined a film in quite a few years, and on first glimmer looks perfectly on cue. 

Even so, it's a bumpy ride in Allen-land these days, as evident from the joyous surprise (and even more surprisingly, Oscar-winning) Midnight in Paris.  He quickly followed the Best Picture contender and his highest grossing film to date with the absolutely negligible To Rome With Love.  And while Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona rank as astounding successes in the last decade-- When You Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Whatever Works, Cassandra's Dream and Anything Else, um, don't.  Examine:

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