Friday, June 22, 2018
Things To Do

Review: Blanchett, others shine in Woody Allen's artful 'Blue Jasmine'

By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

Jasmine isn't even her name. It just sounds better, more substantial and upwardly mobile than Jeanette, who might be a grocery clerk like her sister. Jasmine was always about moving up, which led to marrying that swindler who pampered her into submission. Now he and the money are gone and there's never enough vodka or meds for handling that.

Fragile and rudely denying it, brittle then broken, Jasmine is a victim of circumstances within her control. Woody Allen understands this sort of woman, although Blue Jasmine is the first time in years that he has articulated it with such attention to intimate detail.

It's a role that Cate Blanchett turns into a marvelous bundle of frayed nerves and quicksilver temperament. Blanchett gets to the heart of the crazy in Jasmine, making a lying, self-absorbed opportunist into a sympathetic creature of extravagant habit. The Persian rug has been yanked from under Jasmine's feet, and she lands with that sister and her middle-class life in San Francisco.

Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and her husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), had a brush with prosperity once, winning a lottery jackpot that Jasmine's smooth-talking husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), lost in a Ponzi scheme. Augie can't forgive, but Ginger has loyalty to a sister who is condescending to her. If you think Jasmine will eventually realize less can be more in life, think again.

There will be her halfhearted effort to find work and slightly more enthusiastic attempts to find men who'll tell her she's beautiful and buy her pretty things. There will be obsessions and confessions and tragedy that, with Allen's touch, lie just on the brink of being funny. This is a spry drama, juggling the timeline of Jasmine's emotional erosion, leaving viewers puzzled, then clued in to what happened and in what order.

Blanchett's brilliant portrait of this lovely train wreck of a woman is surrounded by note-perfect performances. There's class conflict at the core of Jasmine and Ginger's relationship that Hawkins — a charmer in 2008's Happy Go Lucky — expresses with equal parts optimism and desperation. Clay is a minor revelation; who knew he could act or could get such a gig after The Adventures of Ford Fairlane?

A better standup comedian, Louis C.K., shines in a brief appearance as one of the men drawn by Jasmine's beauty and lulled by her lies. Another is Peter Sarsgaard as the man of substance Jasmine desires, yet her escalating psychosis may chase away.

Blue Jasmine is Allen's 44th movie in 47 years, an amazing run with storied highs and notorious lows along the way. This one ranks among his finest dramas, his best since Match Point. That tidy slice of noir topped my year-end list in 2005. Blue Jasmine may do the same this year.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

 
Comments
ABC orders ‘Roseanne’ spinoff for fall minus Roseanne Barr

ABC orders ‘Roseanne’ spinoff for fall minus Roseanne Barr

LOS ANGELES — ABC, which canceled its Roseanne revival over its star's racist tweet, said Thursday it will air a Conner family sitcom minus Roseanne Barr this fall.ABC ordered 10 episodes of the spinoff after Barr relinquished any creative...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

It’ll still be June when Boy George arrives in Florida this week to kick off a summer U.S. tour with Culture Club. But the LGBTQ icon says it won’t feel quite like a Pride parade. "I also bake cakes for straight people," he laughed. "Tha...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

What's it like to start a family when you're working for the CIA? Jihi and Andrew Bustamante know.
Updated: 2 hours ago
ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ST. PETERSBURGShyly, 8-year-old Annabelle Brassfield climbed atop a stool in front of a blank easel, grabbed a brush she named Scarlet and prepared to paint her scars. After three open heart surgeries for a severe congenital heart defect, she’s left ...
Published: 06/22/18

Sports on TV/radio for Friday, June 22

TODAYBaseballYankees at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMDodgers at Mets7 p.m.MLBMarlins at Rockies8:30 p.m.FSFCFLWinnipeg at Montreal7 p.m.ESPN2College baseball, World SeriesMississippi State vs. Oregon State3 p.m.ESPNArkansas vs. Florida8 p.m.ESPNHorsesRoy...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership.Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, of Pompan...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Skaters sit on the top of a ramp during the Go Skateboarding Day at the Bro Bowl located at Perry Harvey Sr. Park Thursday, June 21, 2018 in Tampa._informq.push(['embed']);Markus Jalaber, 23, of Tampa, grabs $40 after completing a backside flip to fl...
Published: 06/21/18
Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

When we dipped our paddles into Florida Bay at the mangrove fringe of Everglades National Park and took the first strokes of the 2012 Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, I’m not sure I fully understood the scope of the challenge we were facing. Six...
Published: 06/21/18
MegaCon Tampa Bay celebrity guests include ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Doctor Who’ stars

MegaCon Tampa Bay celebrity guests include ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Doctor Who’ stars

MegaCon Tampa Bay has announced a lineup of celebrity guests that will likely conjure a mix of excitement and nostalgia among local geeks.They include Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who currently plays Negan on The Walking Dead, Christopher Lloyd, best known f...
Published: 06/21/18
Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Grief can unhinge us, disconnect us from our daily lives, make us do things we’ve never done. Grief made Tessa Fontaine run away and join the circus.To be more exact, the sideshow: World of Wonders, the last traditional traveling sideshow in the coun...
Published: 06/21/18