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Monday, January 27, 2014

Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Review

The Film

It's hard to believe that Woody Allen has anything left to say about New York -- anything interesting, anyway. That said, it's easy to see how the writer/director would be inspired by a creepy character like Bernie Madoff.

Allen uses a Madoff-type scandal to drive his main character out of his beloved home state in Blue Jasmine. Now, you may notice that Allen's vision of San Francisco looks a lot like the filmmaker's typical surroundings. It's also nothing like what the title character has become accustomed to.

However, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is looking to start a new life. Well, not voluntarily, really. She needs to leave her perfect life behind, because her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) is a cheat in more ways than one. The events surrounding her marriage force Jasmine across in the country and into a spiral that would make Blanche DuBois look like someone you'd want to hang out with.

Blue Jasmine certainly has Allen's trademark character interactions, dialogue and comedic tones. That said, it's sort of a sad movie, thanks to Blanchett's maniacal, must-see performance. She's not just scooping up all of those awards and accolades for nothing. She's absolutely the best thing about the film, which shouldn't be surprising, given her on-stage stint in A Streetcar Named Desire. However, it's certainly no small feat, especially considering that Blue Jasmine has another one of Allen's stellar supporting casts, which includes Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Sarsgaard. Hell, even Andrew Dice Clay is awesome here.

 Cate Blanchett is up and down as the title character in "Blue Jasmine." Photo: © Sony Pictures.

Hey, Stellaaa -- wanna see another view of this movie? Check out David Kempler's theatrical review of Blue Jasmine.

The Picture

Woody Allen movies aren't known for crazy, big-budget visuals. However, because this 2.40:1 presentation is a newer film, it features some of the director's best looking images to date. The black levels are probably the release's biggest standout, but it has a pretty great color palette overall. Some of Cate Blanchett's outfits and the scenes from her past life offer the prettiest moments. Detail is also decent and most notable on Blanchett's pained face.

The Sound

Again, Woody Allen has never been too focused on audio quality. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find many of Allen's films that come with surround sound. Blue Jasmine does have a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, but it's very focused on what Allen does best: the dialogue. Every word from every character is clear throughout the film. That's not to say that the surrounds are completely dead. The ambience includes birds chirping, party chatter, and of course, jazz music. Blue Jasmine is far from demo material, but it's certainly serviceable -- and pretty much what you'd expect from the director.

The Extras
As with most Woody Allen releases, Blue Jasmine doesn't come with a ton of extras. In fact, it doesn't even have a DVD copy of the film. Besides the theatrical trailer, the Blu-ray has two featurettes that revolve around the film's cast -- or at least Cate Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard, and Andrew Dice Clay. The trio appears in a series of interviews in "Notes from the Red Carpet," as well as a 25-minute press conference.
Final Thoughts

Blue Jasmine certainly isn't perfect. It took me more than a few minutes to realize that Jasmine had moved from New York to San Francisco instead of the other way around. The portrayal of Jasmine's past life looks a lot like sunny California and all of Jasmine's San Francisco acquaintances seem like transplants as well. Of course, this as well as any other nitpicks are just that -- nitpicks. The performances are great, the story is interesting, and the Blu-ray is pretty much standard for Woody Allen. It's definitely one you'll want to pick up before Cate Blanchett collects her next award.

Product Details
Actors: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael StuhlbargDirector: Woody AllenAudio/Languages: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), DTS 5.1 (French)Subtitles: English, English SDH, FrenchAspect Ratio: 2.40:1Number of Discs: 1Rating: RStudio: SonyBlu-ray Disc Release Date: January 21, 2014Run Time: 98 minutesList Price: $35.99Extras: Notes from the Red CarpetBlue Jasmine Cast Press ConferenceTheatrical TrailerPreviewsUltraViolet Digital Copy
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