Blue Jasmine

blue-jasmine-cate-blanchett

Frequent readers of the blog will know how I felt about the last Woody Allen film I had the misfortune of seeing. To Rome with Love  was a pretentious, nonsensical, indulgent film about characters who, even with all will in the world, the audience laboured to endure at best. Thankfully Blue Jasmine, the story of a women who has to come to terms with having nothing when she once had it all, is everything that this film was not. Back to his best, in a territory Allen easily traverses, Jasmine is a living incarnation of the pithy, witty, neurotic New-Yorker that he is so at home with. Going back to basics, with a relatively simply narrative and a smaller cast, has allowed Allen to create characters we want to watch- may not always like- but who we can sympathise with and are compelled by the minute they appear on screen.

As much as this is a vehicle for the layered writing of Allen, this is undoubtedly THE vehicle for Cate Blanchett. She is Jasmine and boy what a Jasmine she is. Vodka swilling and pill popping her way through this goliath performance, Blanchett is simply phenomenal. Her neuroses and anxieties permeate the screen, demanding empathy and understanding from the audience just as she does from the other characters. Blanchett successfully embodies childlike naivety, brow beaten desperation and flat-out hysteria in a way that many lesser actresses would have struggled with.

If you’re looking for a love story with a happy ending then you’ll be disappointed as Allen pulls no punches here with his bleak, brash examination of a woman struggling with identity, loss and failure. Blue Jasmine is simply a short, punchy piece of film making with a terrific cast and a stand out performance from a sublime actress.

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10 iconic wedding movies and scenes

This may appear a weird list when considering what we usually post here on FrameRates, so here is some context: Lauren, my FrameRates buddy, is getting married on tomorrow! *cue cheers*. She’s currently getting the kilts ready and making the final preparations, so I have put together a special list!

So, to celebrate, here are 10 movies with marriages as a plot device or a key scene!

1) The Graduate

GRADUATE

When you get referenced in a movie, regardless of how shitty the movie is, you know you are relevant and well-known enough to the cinematic lexicon. Wayne’s World 2, the above average sequel to Wayne’s World, contains a scene that directly references the end of The Graduate. There are so many scenes in this certified classic that have gone down in history, and none more so than Ben (Hoffman) hammering on a window above a congregation during his love’s wedding to another man. Part of the Hollywood New Wave era, The Graduate is a standout example of how to construct a story with great characters, a solid script, as well as technical adventurousness.

2) Romeo and Juliet

ROMEO
Oh, Leo, how lovely it is to see you grow into the actor you are now. The child star that scowled his way through such early 90s movie like This Boy’s Life and The Basketball Diaries, really hit the dizzy heights of Hollywood stardom when he trod the boards as Romeo in Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet. Lurhman transported the Shakespeare classic into modern day America, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a solid enough reimagining, complete with contemporary music and a colour palette that would make Pixar squint.

3) Wedding Crashers

Wedding Crashers
I’m not a comedy snob but I find it quite difficult to like Vince Vaughn. It’s to his testament that he nails it in Wedding Crashers, an interesting take on the ‘buddy movie’ we have all become so comfortable watching. Fast-talking Vaughn and Owen Wilson play a pair of ballsy business partners that spend their summer vacations crashing weddings and boning bridesmaids. That is until they crash a lavish wedding, during which they fall for two women who are their equal match. It sounds like your average Hollywood snorefest, but this is a decent movie with a lot of laughs!

4) Four Weddings and a Funeral

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“Is it raining? I hadn’t noticed.”

CRINGE AT THE TERRIBLE ACTING! Putting that single-worst line of delivered dialogue in cinema history aside, Four Weddings and Funeral stands up as Richard Curtis’ best work to date. Complete with a bumbling Hugh Grant, a rainy London and some clever laughs, this is probably the seminal movie about weddings in recent times, if not ever. It was, however, responsible for the Marty Pellow/Wet Wet Wet song, Love is All Around Me; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQQ6SfPZggw. I used to sing ‘I roll them in my fingers, I roll them in my toes, bogeys all around me, I got them from my nose.’ 7 year old me was such a funny guy.

5) The Hangover

HANGOVER

I want you to take a long, hard look at yourself, The Hangover, and report back when you can admit your mistakes. I won’t regale you with Stag Do stories about Lauren’s groom-to-be, however his tooth has been fixed now and Latvia has just about recovered.

6) The Wedding Singer

WEDDINGSINGER

The second-least annoying Sandler role after Punch Drunk Love, The Wedding Singer tells the story of Robbie and Julia, a singer and waitress engaged to the wrong partners, that eventually find out each others’ love for the other. This was the first movie I saw on my own at the cinema, which may sound lame, but I was only 11 so fuck you. I jest, of course. I’d like to reiterate that it is Sandler’s second-least annoying role, which should be reason enough to check it out.

7) Match Point

MATCHPOINT

The last Woody Allen outing that got reviewed on FrameRates was not received well at all. It’s a shame, because when he is on form, Allen can craft a story that will engage the most ADHD among us. Match Point is no exception; set in the opulent world of London’s elite, a marriage between a loving couple gets shaken to its very core with the introduction of a busty, blonde siren. Rhys-Myers plays the bachelor-then-husband that succumbs to the charms of Johansson (who wouldn’t?), and by the time the credits have roled you may be shocked as to where this movie has taken you.

8) Father of the Bride

FOTB

A remake of a classic always creeps up on our lists, and this is one of them. Father of the Bride is a remake of the 1950 classic about a dad that cannot accept his daughter is a grown woman making her own decisions. While not being Martin’s best role as the titular father, George Banks, he still manages to convey the character as having his daughter’s best interests at heart, in between all the comedic moments that one would expect from a wedding movie. The original is probably more of a classic, but if you’re a Martin fan then this is certainly not his worst work!

9) Downfall

DOWNFALL

Probably the most infamous wedding in modern history. Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun got married while holed up under the streets of the Reichstag, Berlin, 1945, just days before committing suicide together. Downfall (or Der Untergang in German), tells the story of the last weeks of Hitler’s life. Critics of the movie have stated it paints too human a portrait of the dictator, and while this could be substantiated, it doesn’t detract from how good this movie actually is. You’ve probably all seen the parody videos of Hitler’s rant, however, when in the context of the movie, that scene is Hitler coming to terms with the fact his Reich is coming to an end.

10) Sideways

SIDEWAYS

I’ve never been middle-aged. That said, if I get to a certain vintage and am still not married, I’d like to take a week off before my wedding to eat fine food and drink fine wine. Sideways is a smart, slow but hilarious movie that is as much about food and wine as it is about getting older, feeling young and friendship at all costs. 22 year old me loved this film, and while at that age I had nothing in common with any of the characters, who doesn’t love a movie about booze?

Do any of you have any you’d add to the list?

Also, congratulations, Lauren (and James!)! You guys rock 😀

To Rome with Love

TO ROME WITH LOVE DI WOODY ALLEN

Written, directed by and starring Woody Allen, To Rome with Love, is an ensemble piece broken down into separate vignettes; a couple on their honeymoon, an undertaker-cum-opera sensation, an architect caught in a love triangle and a man who wakes up one day to find he has become an instant celebrity, all set against the back drop of Rome

What Allen has tried to do here is to address themes of love and family, whilst also tackling social issues and attempting some ‘profound’ social commentary. However, instead of coming together as an interesting and dynamic piece of cinema, To Rome with Love is a shambles of a film with shallow characters, and a Rome only familiar with tourists. It was more of a vehicle for Allen to rehash his neurotic New York schtick – which feels tired and annoying – than to tell a story that packed any dramatic punch.

Allen’s style of film making here is less than successful. The use of constant wide shots within scenes meant that it had the feel of a play, a badly directed play, with the actors appearing awkward and stiff within their own characters. This is understandable considering how undeveloped and one dimensional the protagonists were. If the lack of emotional connection with any of the characters wasn’t alienating enough; Jesse Eisenburg could do with a swift punch in the face in this film, Allen’s use of dramatic conventions, such as voicing internal dialogue, a present but not present conscience in the form of Alec Baldwin and the sheer fantasy of the instant celebrity thread, resulted in a mess of styles and an infuriating watch.

To Rome with Love has zero charm, heinous characters and average writing. Allen attempted to romance the viewer with his version of Rome, but silly stereotypes and cliched scenery gave the whole film a gloss and sheen not uncommon with a travel programme. The incessant Italian farcical music made this even worse. Annie Hall seems a long way away and it was a struggle to see this movie through to the end.

LJ