Tag Archives: Blue Jasmine

Best of Woody Allen

Best of Woody Allen.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Personally a big fan of Woody Allan – the man who redefined classy, witty comedy in the history of World Cinema.

He is a Writer, Director, Actor, Musician – directed more than 45 feature films and still going strong.

And here is a list of Woody Allen’s best films of all times. Do let me know if you agree with me or even if you don’t.

10. Bananas (1971)

WA - BananasThis is one of his early films where Woody is willing to do anything stupid and funny to make you laugh. His effort of slapstick comedy punched with clever sarcasm works fine and yes – it does make us laugh.

This film is packed with humorous one liners and jokes as Woody attempts to make fun of the third world political scenario.

Just sit back and get entertained.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyqm-wWnX0A

9. Take the Money and Run (1969)

WAWA - Take the money and run

I laughed my ass off while watching  this film. It’s Woody’s second film (in a way his first proper feature film) and it’s a laugh riot.

In a mock-documentary style Woody portrays the life story of a petty criminal who unfortunately couldn’t master the knack of stealing.

Superb story telling and probably one of his most funny films ever.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yNhsuxqMXk

8. Match Point (2005)

WA-Match-Point

Scarlett Johansson – one cannot help but fall in love with her.

In this film (besides Tennis) we learn  that it’s all about luck – as Jonathan Rhys Meyers says “I’d rather be lucky than good”.

But what happens when you are about to get lucky and love (or may be lust) threatens to ruin it all?

Suspense and drama, love and betrayal, cool and sexy. Just love it.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wISRAOb6xm0

7. Deconstructing Harry (1997)

WA - Deconstructing Harry

A person too neurotic in his real life can only survive through his art. One of Woody’s most criticized films perhaps but again hilariously funny. I love it.

Woody creates a strange world where – being ‘out of focus’ is the new illness, unfaithful couples fuck in-front of the blind grandma, therapists need therapies themselves, where hookers give the best advice and ‘hell’ seems to be a cool place to hangout.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9wYgL-Mglw

6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

WA - Vicky Christina Barcelona

Love, passion, lust and romance all shaken and stirred to make this unique cocktail – a film that celebrates relationships of all kinds.

Rebecca HallScarlett JohanssonJavier Bardem, Penélope Cruz – all hot and happening in Barcelona.

I dig this film for it’s superb characterizations and the sexy story telling.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-RdUcXAKiw

5. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

WA - Crimes and Misdemeanors

An excellent take on infidelity, felony, guilt and justice (God’s justice to be more precise).

Woody presents us with the perfect fusion of wit and serious drama; undoubtedly one of his best screenplays.

The film was nominated for Oscars in  three categories including ‘Best Direction’.  On of my all time favorites.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wXqwL3akhw

4. Blue Jasmine (2013)

WA - Blue Jasmine

The very recent one and again a masterpiece.

Comic yet brutal, a story of delusional Jasmine who struggles to cope with her sudden climb down on the social ladder.

Script writing at it’s best by Woody  – great actors, fine music and the elegant Cate Blanchett ( she won the Oscar for her role and so well deserved).

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FER3C394aI8

3. Manhattan (1979)

WA - ManhattanOne of the best shot black and white films i have ever seen – a story of relationships and a lot more.

An insight into a love story between a 42 year old man and a 17 year old girl, now the same man also falls in love with his best friend’s mistress!!

How crazy can it go than this?

A treat to your eyes and one of the most classy works of Woody.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7N7aAFRIz4

2. Annie Hall (1977)

WA - Annie HallAnd now the film for which Woody Allen is best known for. Won four Oscars including ‘Best film’ and ‘best director’.

The ultimate romantic comedy – starts with the nervous attempts to find love, then a funny yet complicated relationship and finally to loose it all.

A film you can watch over and over … a genuine love story.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBzHphcc2Jw

1. Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

WA - Sweet and lowdownThe story of ‘the second best jazz guitarist in the world’ – Sean Penn and Samantha Morton at their best. This film engages you with the classic Chaplin like emotions – laughter with a hint of sadness in it.

Great music. Innovative story telling. Superb acting.

Probably the most underrated film of Woody Allen but for me – it’s his best creation till date.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6stUcaJx5f4

and

(The ‘+1’ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most crazy one. A must watch).

+1. Zelig (1983)

WA - ZeligA brilliant ‘mockumentary’ – very clever, sophisticated and of course funny. Woody plays the ‘human chameleon’ – a person with identity crisis, who resembles anyone in whose company he finds himself.

An unique idea and skillfully executed, a perfect satire of the current society.

The film was much ahead of it’s time; one of my personal favorites.

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agkCEOHQVgg

When Blue Jasmine rides A streetcar named Desire!

When Blue Jasmine rides A streetcar named Desire!

written by Souranath Banerjee.

As I was watching the 1951 classic A Streetcar Named Desire (again), this time I couldn’t help but pause over this particular dialogue.

“Why, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume”

Vivien Leigh in a state of nervous humor voiced the above quoted line to define Marlon Brando’s character in the film.

In 2013 (after more than 60 years) the name ‘Jasmine’ used by Woody Allen for the lead character in his latest film Blue Jasmine doesn’t seem all like a coincidence after all – huh?

A-Streetcar-Named-Desire-poster5In 1951 little did Vivien Leigh knew that Miss Blanche du Bois (the name of her character in A Streetcar Named Desire) would rise like a phoenix from the ashes of it’s past Oscar glory (Vivien Leigh won the Oscar in the best actress category that year) and soar high to the same heights (since Cate Blanchett also won the Oscar in the best actress category) – only this time her name would be Jasmine.

Yes, in 2013 Woody Allen directed Blue Jasmine which in many ways is a modern and superficial comic version of the age-old classic A streetcar named desire directed by Elia Kazan. And Cate Blanchett masterfully plays the delusional sister (Jasmine) who has lost everything in life and yet awaits to loose a lot more. 

Basic story structure. (This fits perfectly for both the films)

Blue-Jasmine-poster-touch-upsIt is the story of a middle-aged woman who is robbed from her wealth, relations and social status; she comes to stay with her sister (her only family) in a desperate effort to live a better life.

She is too classy and refined for her new environment and thus has difficulty to cope up with her sister’s middle-class husbands/boyfriends. In her desperate attempt to survive she tries her best to fall in love. But unfortunately her scandalous past creeps up and crushes her sugary dreams of a satisfying future.

In the end she is more damaged than ever; delusional, helpless and alone in this unsympathetic world. A slow and brutal tale of human degradation, of failure and disappointment marvelously captured by both Elia Kazan and Woody Allen through their individualistic cinematic approach.

Personally I am so disturbed by the tragic ending(s). In a way it’s so real and possible – that’s why all the more scary.

 Jasmine Vs Blanche.

The basic contrast between Jasmine (in Blue Jasmine) and Blanche (in A streetcar named desire) lies in the core reason of their complexity.

streetcar-named-desire-poster1For instance Jasmine’s primary problem is the forced degradation of her social status/class. She declares herself broke but couldn’t get rid of her past expensive habits of flying first-class, tipping her taxi driver extra-good, carrying expensive fashionable bags; and she has also lost touch of actually working for a living.

On the other hand Blanche’s principal complication is related to her own fading looks (the negative effects of aging) which according to her leads to lack of companionship. She needs make-up and hot baths in regular intervals; extremely conscious about her looks, she craves compliments for her face, figure, hair, clothes, jewelries …

They were both happy in their own worlds but alas! – they are bankrupt and they both carry the burden of the tainted hidden secrets from their pasts. Their back-stories are pretty different but equally disturbing and they often intend to survive their past memories by having a drink or two.

“Who do you have to sleep with around here to get a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon?” – Jasmine.

Blue-Jasmine-posterAt the very beginning Jasmine flies from New York to San Francisco to her sister’s place blabbering all about her broken life story, then she takes the regular taxi to arrive at her destination. Whereas Blanche takes the train from Auriol to New Orleans and then takes the dramatically named streetcar called Desire to reach her destination.

Blanche gets to arrive in a much more dramatic way (even her first appearance is very noticeable as she mysteriously appears from behind the smokes and the crowd).

I feel that the amount of emotional drama is much more heightened as Elia Kazan (very much intentionally) compels us to take a roller-coaster ride through a series of extreme melodramatic highs and lows of emotions in his film A street car named desire. On contrary in Blue Jasmine (I am sure it’s again a deliberate decision) Woody Allen keeps all of it a tad subtle and wickedly comic, but mind you the overall emotional effect the film delivers is not played softly at all.

street-car-named-desire-posterThough Jasmine doesn’t have to face any physical violence (rape) as compared to unfortunate Blanche, but the rejection from their respective lovers, the dismissal from their sisters as well as the rest of the society is enough for them to loose their mind completely.

In Blue Jasmine the informative flashbacks are cleverly used in regular intervals to break the linear pattern of storytelling. Whereas in A streetcar named desire the vocal echo of certain words and memories (and also the sound of a shot fired) are beautifully layered as a continuous remembrance of the past and a constant proof of Blanche’s unstable mind.

And lastly the brilliant use of music – Blue Moon and the polka tune of Varsouviana.

Blue-jasmine-poster1Blanche (Vivien Leigh) often in a melancholy way felt nostalgic recalling the music to which she danced the Varsouviana; sometimes she would even imagine the same polka-tune playing in her head, the one they were playing in the Moon Lake Casino that tragic night when soon after her young lover Allan committed suicide.

On the other hand a unique way of portraying Jasmine’s blue world, Woody Allen used the song ‘Blue Moon’ not only as a music piece but a simple link to Jasmine’s once happy past; the song which was playing when she first met her husband Hal at a party. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) repeats this romantic ‘Blue Moon’ story five times throughout the film to anyone who would care (or dare) to listen, and each time you cannot help but smile at her – a sad smile perhaps.