Last night Tatyana wanted to watch Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine, which she’d never seen. I hadn’t seen it since the fall of ’13 so I half-watched it and half-wrote, and it somehow played a little better this time. Not that I found it problematic back then. I felt it was a reasonably good tragedy but saddled with a story that was too dependent on A Streetcar Named Desire.
Last night it somehow felt stronger, snappier. I can’t explain why. I was impatient with it six years ago; last night was a better ride.
Tatyana liked it a lot, but at the same time was strongly affected by the sad arc of Cate Blanchett‘s Ruth Madoff-like character. Jasmine is a delusional wife of a financial wheeler-dealer (played by Alec Baldwin) who’s suddenly broke and without a life after Baldwin is busted by the feds and then commits suicide in the slam.
I explained all the Streetcar parallels, but Tatyana hasn’t seen that 1951 film either, in part because it’s too old. She does, however, have a liking for young Marlon Brando.
It’s basically very, very tough to get Tatyana to watch anything. She only wants to watch “masterpieces,” she says. Only films on the level of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 days or A Separation…that line of country. She won’t sully herself with the watching of anything less than top-of-the-mountain classics, and she doesn’t like films that she doesn’t relate to personally in some deep-down way. And she won’t watch genre films or guy films like Heat, The Outfit or The Candidate. And she hates crap. I invited her to join me at a Long Shot screening, but she sensed trouble and declined. And nothing scary or violent.
Tatyana basically watches what she watches because she wants to watch it, and that usually means films with some sort of emotional lift or real-life resonance. Or if she has a special liking for the actor or actress.
Original Blue Jasmine thoughts, posted on 6.17.13:
(a) “The Streetcar Named Desire parallels are obvious and abundant, but it also has its own flavor and motor and undercurrent. Blue Jasmine isn’t a tragedy — it’s an examination of the venality of the 1% by way of the personality and choices of one extremely fucked-up, vodka-slurping woman who’s adrift and panicking.”
(b) “There’s no question it’s a blazing, balls-out achievement for Cate Blanchett. She’s quite the wreck in this thing. Quite the disaster zone.”
(c) “Almost everything works about Blue Jasmine except for the ending. The ending is the problem. Blanche Dubois was all of us in the sense that she preferred unreality to reality. She preferred music and poetry and baubles and Japanese lampshades over harsh reality and bare bulbs, and who among us doesn’t treasure those things over the raw banality of everyday life? But Blanchett’s Jasmine is a neurotic elitist and a phony who loathes everyday people, who is appalled at the idea of rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi. She isn’t a tragic figure but an aloof and pathetic figure because she can’t be honest with herself about who she was when she was married to Alec Baldwin‘s Bernie Madoff-like character and who she is right now.”
(d) “And so seeing Cate melt down on a park bench at the very end isn’t the same as Blanche being led away to an asylum at the end of Streetcar. Blanche is a victim of having over-invested in her own fantasies and dreams, and Blanchett’s Jasmine is a one-percenter who has ridden along on a wave of denial while she was with her notorious ex. She’s a taker, and what she needs to do, at the very least, is acknowledge who and what she is and has been…at least that.”
(e) “Just as Anthony Quinn‘s Zampano in La Strada finally understands at the very end what a brute and a monster he had been to Guilietta Messina, Blanchett’s Jasmine needs to at least see and accept what she’s been and face who she really is. But Woody is so consumed with disdain for her character that he won’t give her even that — he wants to see her suffering and lost and hopeless right to the end, without a shred of self-recognition or self-acceptance. That makes for an unsatisfying ending. Even the most reprehensible character needs to complete his/her journey and experience some form of discovery or resolution.”