A Mental Illness Playbook, only without the Silver Lining
Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Review
"Anxiety, nightmares and a nervous breakdown; there's only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets and start screaming."Wise and witty, dark and cynical, Woody Allen’s latest production is a hauntingly resonant little reflection on mental illness – in particular nervous breakdowns – featuring easily the greatest performance in Cate Blanchett’s career. In classic Allen tradition the set-up feels much like a stage play, which is little surprise when you realise that it’s basically a loose adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s classic A Streetcar Named Desire, just given a modern spin. The films of Woody Allen may not all be to everybody’s tastes, but Blue Jasmine transcends any kind of pigeon-holing, and rides high on the shoulders of Blanchett’s powerhouse lead performance, ably supported by a strong turn from a perfectly deplorable Alec Baldwin.Allen paints a wonderful portrait of delusions of grandeur and slow-burning mental self-destruction, set against the topical backdrop of Ponzi-scheme style financial fraud. It's quintessentially Woody Allen, and yet, atypically, not in any kind of an invasive way – not in a way that obstructs his earnest desire to study this particular mental breakdown – but instead only in the trademark wit and neuroticism that is instilled in all of his dramas. And don't get too caught up with the Streetcar comparisons; Allen's script owes an undeniable debt of gratitude to Tennessee Williams's rock-solid foundations, but the alternative perspective and contemporary updating turn this into an original piece in its own right; one of Allen's finest in years. Blue Jasmine is a shining gem, one that is not to be missed.
Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Picture QualityBlue Jasmine comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a very pleasant 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation that certainly offers up a respectfully authentic rendition of the material, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
Detail is excellent, offering up impressive clarity throughout, whether it be on the skin textures, clothing weaves or background touches, presenting superior fine object observation, and never betraying any significant digital defects: no overt edge enhancement, no excessive DNR application – just a warm layer of suitably filmic grain pervading the piece – and no obvious banding or blocking.
The colour scheme is pushed slightly into the brighter, yellowy-gold destination, but this does not leave any of the reds or other tones any less vibrant or authentic. Black levels are rich and deep, and allow for strong darker sequences with no sign of crush or loss in shadow detail although, admittedly, this is a daytime-dominated feature.
Warner’s UK release matches up to Sony’s US counterpart, with no discernible differences in its demo quality video presentation.
Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Sound QualityIt’s difficult to fully rate the aural accompaniment to Blue Jasmine, primarily because it just isn’t a particularly important part of the production. An entirely dialogue-driven affair this is, like many of Allen’s features, a typically stage-style affair, of limited physical scope, and designed around a series of core characters all interacting in a number of regular environments.
Still, regarding the actual material on offer, this release's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track promotes the dialogue with crystal clarity throughout, whether the murmured talking-to-myself reflections or the louder screams and shouts; dominating the frontal array for the entirety of the proceedings.
There are a few ambient touches; car and traffic noises; and some nice atmospherics to reflect the coastal environments, as well as the more lively dinners and parties, and dinner parties. There’s no significant surround usage – enough to make the settings seem utterly authentic, but never enough to pull you quite into the environments, other than perhaps in terms of the conversations and character – and LFE input is limited.
The audio isn't demo quality, but the dialogue-driven material is well-reproduced for what is a perfectly serviceable soundtrack.
Blue Jasmine Blu-ray ExtrasA 25-minute Press Conference remains the strongest extra feature, boasting contributions from actors Blanchett and Sarsgaard and Andrew Dice Clay, with the only other noteworthy piece being a brief ‘From the Red Carpet’ Featurette, and with the disc rounded off by a number of Preview Trailers.
Is Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Worth BuyingWise and witty, dark and cynical, Woody Allen’s latest production is a hauntingly resonant little reflection on mental illness featuring easily the greatest performance in Cate Blanchett’s career.
Excellent video, solid audio and a sprinkle of extras make this a must-have purchase.
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