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Oscar may like Cate Blanchett in 'Blue Jasmine'

Published September 05. 2013 05:00PM

"Blue Jasmine" is the 49th film directed and 71st film written by Woody Allen, including some shorts, in the 47 years since his first movie in 1966. He's already filming his next movie, an untitled feature scheduled for release in 2014.

Allen, noted for his hilarious social satires, has also made dramas, often including funny moments. "Blue Jasmine" is one such film.

In "Blue Jasmine," New York City socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) loses the elegant Park Avenue apartment, the Hamptons' vacation home, her jewels, furs and her place in the pantheon of the super-rich after her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), is arrested and charged with investment fraud. Their son, Danny (Alden Ehrenreich) drops out of Harvard University.

After Hal is jailed, Jasmine needs a place to stay. She travels to San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), who is divorced from Augie (Andrew Dice Clay). Ginger works at a grocery store and has a boyfriend named Chili (Bobby Cannavale), an auto mechanic who is as much of a hothead as his first name implies.

Jasmine and Ginger were adopted and never really got along. They still don't, complicated by Jasmine's volatile mix of Xanax and vodka and Ginger's volatile boyfriend, Chili.

The sisters go to a party, where Jasmine meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a United States government diplomat, and Ginger meets Al (Louis C.K.), a home audio engineer.

"Blue Jasmine" has elements of Blanche Dubois from Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire," in the circumstances and characterization of Jasmine, and the Bernie Madoff financial scandal, for the screenplay's plotline.

The "Blue" of the movie's title refers to the song, "Blue Moon," which was playing when Jasmine met Hal. Their story is told in flashbacks, neatly triggered by a word or phrase.

Allen deftly connects the dots of the plot and brings the screenplay's characters into sharp focus. The San Francisco setting is a nice touch. There are also many New York City scenes.

"Blue Jasmine" is a satisfying character study about collateral damage, not in war, but in personal lives when domestic weapons of mass destruction are unleashed at the corner of avarice and ego.

An actress Oscar nomination is a guarantee for Blanchett, an early front-runner to receive it. Hawkins, as supporting actress, and Cannavale, as supporting actor, are likely nominees, as is Allen, for original screenplay.

"Blue Jasmine," MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13) for mature thematic material, language and sexual content. Genre: Drama. Run time: 1 hr., 38 min. Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

Credit Readers' Anonymous: "Blue Jasmine" production design is by longtime Woody Allen collaborator Santo Loquasto, formerly from the Easton area.

Box Office, Aug. 30: For the Labor Day holiday weekend, "Lee Daniels' The Butler" continued at No. 1 for three weeks in a row, $20.2 million, $79.5 million, three weeks, keeping "One Direction: This Is Us," opening at No. 2, with $18.5 million.

3. "We're The Millers," $16.3 million, $113 million, four weeks; 4. "Planes," $10.9 million, $74 million, four weeks; 5. "Instructions Not Included," opening, $10.4 million; 6. "Elysium," $8.4 million, $80.5 million, four weeks; 7. "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," $7 million, $24.5 million, two weeks; 8. "The World's End," $6.5 million, $18.3 million, two weeks; 9. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," $6 million, $56.7 million, four weeks; 10. "Getaway," opening, $5.6 million

Unreel, Sept. 6:

"Riddick," R: The sci-fi thriller stars Vin Diesel battling an alien race of predators.

"Salinger," PG-13: A documentary about J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of the novel, "The Catcher in the Rye."

Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press web site, lehighvalleypress. com; and the Times-News web site, Email Paul Willistein:

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