Time once again for the annual Woody Allen offering and for the third straight year it’s a good one. Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett as a former New York socialite whose world comes crashing down after her husband (Alec Baldwin) goes to jail for real estate scams. Her mind a wreck, Jasmine stays with her sister (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco and attempts to get her life back together, but her past may not be done with her. Surface comparisons to A Streetcar Named Desire are warranted, but Jasmine’s story is not only of Tennessee Williams caliber, it’s far more enjoyable. I liked Allen’s last two films, Midnight in Paris and To Rome With Love a great deal. I like his latest drama even more. Look for my review on Friday.
Were it not opening alongside an exceptional Woody Allen work, the final film in Edgar Wright’s so-called Blood and Ice Cream trilogy would be the week’s standout debut. The World’s End features mainstays from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman) and “trilogy” newcomer Eddie Marsan as childhood friends who reunite for a mammoth pub crawl. Making the rounds, they discover that some of the old gang have grown up while others have not, but also that something isn’t quite right with the locals. I recently revisited Wright’s past two films (Shaun of the Dead seems to have been stolen from NC Cardinal libraries) and think that his comedy and action have gotten better with each effort. Will his latest feature continue that trend? Come Friday afternoon, I’ll be extremely surprised if, in the words of Hot Fuzz‘s pea-brained Michael Armstrong, the answer is anything but “yarp.”
With The Conjuring leaving theaters this week and Insidious 2 still a few weeks away, You’re Next will have to do as the lone horror film. Like The Purge, Adam Wingard’s film features a home invasion premise with masked folks (this time in various animal disguises) doing the violent intruding. These outsiders appear to have the upper hand on their family reunion victims, that is until an unlikely guest displays a gift for fighting back. The cast includes a few recognizable faces (Upstream Color‘s Amy Seimetz; Step Up 3D‘s Sharni Vinson) and, more interesting, a handful of indie writers and filmmakers (Ti West, Joe Swanberg, Simon Barrett) who, like Wingard, have contributed to one of both of the V/H/S films. People who like horror films seem to like this one a lot, which makes me think it could be the sleeper hit of the weekend.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is the latest adaptation of a popular young adult book series, this one by Cassandra Clare. Set in modern day New York, Clary Fray (Lily Collins, Mirror Mirror) learns that her forefathers are Shadowhunters, half-angel warriors who protect the world from demons. Things take off when her mother (Lena Heady, The Purge) disappears, which forces Clary to team up with these Shadowhunters and battle paranormal forces in an alternate New York known as Downworld. (You heard right!) As with most of these stories, the cast is primarily teens or 20something posing as teens, but a few name brands bring added class to the adult roles (Jared Harris, John Rhys Meyers, CCH Pounder). The big question is whether it will go the one-and-done way of Beautiful Creatures or at least flirt with Twilight and Hunger Games success. A sequel is apparently already in the works, which makes me curious if a multi-film deal was somehow guaranteed regardless of turning a profit or if the news is mere wishful thinking by the P.R. department and a means of luring viewers with the promise of a continuing story. We’ll see how things play out starting today (Wednesday).
Fleeing the Scene
On Netflix Instant
Now that Jobs is out, what better time to see Funny Or Die’s iSteve? Justin Long plays the former Apple founder with Lost‘s Jorge Garcia as Woz. Also new to the queue is Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, which I liked well enough when it came out on DVD, but want to revisit seeing as half of the New Hollywood are listed as “Party Guest” on IMDb. I didn’t know who Mark Duplass, Dave Franco, or Zosia Mamet were at the time, but I will be on the lookout for them this time.
Another appealing option is Samsara, the latest visual collage documentary from the makers of Baraka, which offers one fascinating image after another. (There’s a reason it played nearly two months at the Fine Arts Theatre.) Elsewhere, Robert Rodriguez’s latest Spy Kids movie, All the Time in the World, is available for the completists out there, and though it seems like Donnie Darko and Memento are randomly available at any given time on Netflix, they’re both currently back and that’s good news.