Blue Jasmine

BJ-posterI try to remember the words of Garth from Wayne’s World when I go to see a current Woody Allen film. I tell myself this isn’t about how I want his movies to be. It’s about how he perceives himself as a filmmaker and an auteur and how his art completely represents who he is in today’s world of cinema.

Okay, who am I kidding? It’s totally about me! Because I represent the paying audience and even if Woody makes his films for himself with no worries about how they are perceived, my opinion still counts! I’ll bet Woody doesn’t have to write a blog post every 51 days!  (I’m guess I’m a little behind.)

Blue Jasmine has been Woody Allen’s best reviewed movie in years. Praise has been universal for the script and the cast and the acting.  And yet I sat through this movie and thought, okay, been there, done that. What other critics called an homage to A Streetcar Named Desire seemed to me to be lukewarm Tennessee Williams copycatting. It was Blanche DuBois meets Bernie Madoff, only the disgraced financial consultant was played by Jack Donaghy as interpreted by Alec Baldwin, who now seems to play every part as if he were still on 30 Rock.

Coincidences abound in the script and shape the story in a convenient way that simply seem like he couldn’t bothered to work out the plot. The characterizations are all remnants of well-known stereotypes, and while the actors try their best, nothing on the screen seems original. The word that I kept writing in my notes was lazy.

I remind myself that Woody Allen is 78 years old, that he has been making films for over 40 years. He knows what he wants to say. I just think I’m tired of listening.

Barf Bag Rating: ZERO BAGS

Midnight in Paris

I am one of those fans that Woody Allen must hate, because the news of a new film of his fills me with dread. My conversations are peppered with quotes from Sleeper and Take the Money and Run, and I can and will recite entire passages from Love and Death (Sonja: I guess you could say I’m half-whore, half-saint. Boris: Here’s hoping I get the half that eats!) His early classics (everything pre-1990) hold up amazingly well and are still as fresh and funny as the day they first appeared. But expecting his current films to be like the old ones is unfair to Woody and unrealistic as well – no artist wants to keep revisiting work they created some twenty-five year ago. And interestingly (and probably not coincidentally), this theme shows up in his newest film, Midnight in Paris. Continue reading