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Blue Jasmine poster

Review: Blue Jasmine, Riddick, What Maisie Knew, Romeo & Juliet: A Love Song and The Best Offer

By Cinema and Reviews

Max Casella, Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannvale in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine (2013)

When did “late-period: Woody Allen start? Was it with Match Point (when he finally left New York for some new scenery)? Or should we con­sider these last ten, globe-trotting, years as late‑r Woody? The last ten years have cer­tainly been up and down in terms of qual­ity. Scoop was all-but diabol­ic­al. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was robust and sur­pris­ing. Midnight in Paris was gen­i­al but dis­pos­able (des­pite being a massive hit) and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger was barely even a film.

Blue Jasmine posterNow, Blue Jasmine, in which Mr. Allen uses the notori­ous Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi crimes as inspir­a­tion for a story about the fraud’s vic­tims as well as the col­lat­er­al dam­age inflic­ted on a woman obli­vi­ous of her own com­pli­city. As the eponym­ous Jasmine, Cate Blanchett plays the wife of Alec Baldwin’s shonky NY busi­ness­man, their rela­tion­ship told in flash­back while she tries to rebuild her life in her adop­ted half-sister’s (or some­thing – the rela­tion­ship seems unne­ces­sar­ily com­plic­ated for some­thing that has no mater­i­al impact on the story) apart­ment in an unfash­ion­able area of San Francisco.

[pullquote]As they used to say on tele­vi­sion about kit­tens, “a child isn’t just for Christmas, a child is forever.”[/pullquote]Blanchett unravels beau­ti­fully and almost main­tains our sym­pathy des­pite the repeated evid­ence that she does­n’t really deserve it. In sup­port, Sally Hawkins as the sis­ter is more watch­able than usu­al and oth­ers – not­ably Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlbarg and Louis C.K. – get moments to shine even though some of those moments can seem a bit repet­it­ive. Mr. Allen’s ear for dia­logue seems to have entirely deser­ted him – these people talk like they’re being quoted in New Yorker art­icles rather than con­vers­ing like liv­ing, breath­ing humans – but the struc­ture is sat­is­fy­ing and Blanchett takes the entire pro­ject by the scruff of the neck and makes it her own.

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2012 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

This Must Be the Place posterAs usu­al, the vagar­ies of hol­i­day dead­lines mean that, just as you are arriv­ing back at work to glee­fully greet the New Year, here I am to tell you all about 2012. The best way to use this page is to clip it out, fold it up and put it in your pock­et ready for your next vis­it to the video shop – that way you won’t go wrong with your rent­ing. Trust me – I’m a professional.

But this year I have a prob­lem. Usually I man­age to restrict my annu­al picks to films that were com­mer­cially released to cinemas. I’ve always felt that it wasn’t fair to men­tion films that only screened in fest­ivals – it’s frus­trat­ing to be told about films that aren’t easy to see and it makes it dif­fi­cult for you to join in and share the love. This year, though, if I take out the festival-only films the great­ness is hard to spot among the only “good”.

As usu­al, I have eschewed a top ten in favour of my pat­en­ted cat­egor­ies: Keepers, Watch Again, Mentioned in Dispatches and Shun At All Costs. In 2012, only two of my nine Keepers (films I wish to have close to me forever) made it into com­mer­cial cinemas and one of them isn’t even really a film.

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Review: Hope Springs, Total Recall and How Far Is Heaven

By Cinema and Reviews

Hope Springs posterIn Hope Springs, Meryl Streep proves once again that not only can she play any woman, she can also play every­wo­man. She’s Kay, an unful­filled Nebraska house­wife, mar­ried for 31 years to account­ant Tommy Lee Jones and resigned to sleep­ing in sep­ar­ate bed­rooms and cook­ing him his eggs every morn­ing while he reads the paper. Except, she’s not resigned, she’s become determ­ined. Determined to prove that mar­riage doesn’t just fizzle out after the kids leave home, that the past doesn’t have to equal the future.

So, she signs them both up for “intens­ive couples coun­selling” with friendly ther­ap­ist Steve Carell, in pic­tur­esque sea­side Maine. Jones is gruffly res­ist­ant, of course, and it’s his dead­pan sar­casm that prompts nost of the early com­edy (their fum­bling attempts to spice up their life provides the rest). As a com­edy, Hope Springs is extremely gentle – much more gentle than the trail­er would have you believe – but that gen­tle­ness suits the del­ic­ate sub­ject and the script (by Vanessa Taylor) actu­ally bur­rows in pretty deeply to a sub­ject that, I’m sure, is pretty close to home for lots of viewers.

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Cinematica 2/19: Meryl’s Mature Urges Make Tommy Lee Tense

By Audio and Cinematica

It’s Back to BOURNE with Jeremy Renner; Meryl Streep gets it on with Tommy Lee Jones in HOPE SPRINGS; Hirokazu Koreeda’s I WISH is a little gem and we talk to the dir­ect­ors of the New Zealand doc­u­ment­ary HOW FAR IS HEAVEN.