Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) just lost everything. Her husband. Her son. Her possessions. So after a nervous breakdown she packs the last of her Chanel, Dior and Hermès pieces in her vintage Louis Vuitton luggage and flies all the way from New York to San Francisco. Her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) lives there. She is nice enough to take her in, even though Jasmine’s husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) gambled away all of her money on a dubious investment. Jasmine has hit rock bottom. When she married Hal she left school for him. Now she doesn’t have a degree or job experience. She is forced to take the first job that comes her way, in order to pay for go to computer school so that she can then study interior design online. Drowning her sorrows in cheap alcohol and prescription drugs only makes things worse. Nothing seems to be going right for her, until she meets a dashing and promising young fellow named Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard). To appear more desirable she lies to him about her past, but what if he found out what kind of person she really was? Continue reading
Allan Stewart Konigsberg alias Woody Allen is one of the most prolific and consistently interesting filmmakers. I can’t praise him enough. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers and he continues to surprise audiences, by putting out a new film every year since the 1970s. Even if critics don’t always like his efforts, he consistently makes the films he wants to make. Lately he proved that he still got it with Midnight in Paris and now it looks like his newest film, Blue Jasmine is getting mostly positive reviews as well, which makes me happy.
To celebrate the release of his new drama, coming out in theaters this very friday, I wanted to recommend my five favorite Woody Allen films. This list can be especially helpful if you’re looking to get into his sizable filmography. Since I am so in love with all of his films, and wouldn’t say he’s made one that I dislike, it’s hard for me to pick one over the other, but I’ll try my best.
5. Annie Hall (1977)
It’s Woody’s smash hit. This catapulted him into international stardom, and rightfully so. This is a great picture, it won Best Picture, again: Deservedly so. The film is a romantic comedy starring Woody Allen himself and his first muse Diane Keaton. It’s about Woody’s character trying to figure out why his relationship with Annie Hall didn’t work out. Some very innovating filming techniques and narrative styles. Woody breaks the “fourth wall” several times, speaking directly to the camera. How could you not like this film?
4. Interiors (1978)
A rather depressing film for a director known for his comedic chops, but I love Interiors. It’s as close as Woody will ever get to Michelangelo Antonioni, in fact he uses the same cinematographer that worked on Red Desert, but of course there’s a bit of an Ingmar Bergman feel too. The film is about three sisters dealing with the separation of their parents. This is Allen’s first foray into drama and I would say it’s his best “serious” film. Great nuanced performances by all the actors involved and I especially like Diane Keaton in this one.
3. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Aside from comedy, Woody has always had a passion for fantasy as well, but not that dragons and wizards shit. It’s always something grounded in “reality”. In The Purple Rose of Cairo Mia Farrow’s character falls in love with a movie character that literally comes out of the movie. Set in New York in the 1930s this is a nostalgic and romantic film, with a bittersweet ending. It’s one of my favorite films, because it comments on film as a storytelling medium and as a cultural phenomenon. It’s also one of the best instances of Woody mixing melancholic and comedic tones.
2. Whatever Works (2009)
I know I should be picking one of his classics, but I have to be honest here and I think this is one of his most underrated films. It looks as though the script is something he re-hashed, but I like it nonetheless. It’s not one of his best, but certainly one of Woody’s funniest and probably most ‘expositive’ of his “life philosophy” which is basically the title of the film itself. On a personal level this film reminded me a little bit of Lolita, and maybe he didn’t even intend to reference it. Larry David is good in this, but my favorite part is Evan Rachel Wood, she is just to die for and a good actress of course.
1. Midnight in Paris (2011)
I know I always talk about this one, but it’s probably my favorite of his at this point and the Woody Allen film that got me to watch almost all of his movies. I should however revisit his classics, because now that I know and understand his style better I’m sure I’ll appreciate them even more. Midnight in Paris is about a writer (Owen Wilson) who wants his work to be more respected. He is on holiday in Paris with his fiancé he finds a spot where every night at midnight a car stops by and he is transported to the 1920s, where he meets all of his literary heroes. Almost like an Alice in Wonderland, he is able to work out his real life problems in the fantasy world. Won best original screenplay, well deserved and certainly one I’ll keep re-watching.
If you want to know more about Woody Allen I also recommend the excellent Woody Allen: A Documentary. A documentary on Woody as a person and an artist. In conclusion: What are your favorite Woody Allen films?
Woody Allen is an unstoppable force, a tireless filmmaker releasing one film a year ever since he started working. As he said himself, he doesn’t believe in the auteur theory, but in the quantity theory, that is: If you make a lot of movies, chances are some of those are actually good. His theory certainly works for him, since the number of classics he produced is higher than most filmmaker’s entire filmography.
Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s newest film starring the lovely Cate Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard, Alec Baldwin and Sally Hawkins. Unlike most of his work which is mostly a mixture of comedy and other genres, Blue Jasmine is going to be a straight-up drama. Not many of Woody’s drama’s have been successful, critically or at the box office, however there have been some great ones like Interiors. Woody Allen himself wishes he was better at it, so I’m glad he keeps trying. I prefer an ambitious failure over something lazy (but still kind of charming) like To Rome with Love, his 2012 film.
You can find the first trailer for Blue Jasmine on YouTube and here are some set photos and stills for the movie. The film will be released in US theaters July 26th, 2013. Anyone else looking forward to it?