"Blue Jasmine" has the qualities of all of Woody Allen's best films. He crafts a script and creates a space where an actor's "inner crazy" can spring to life. Much of his early fame came from creating a neurotic onscreen persona himself, and - regardless of what you feel about reports of his personal life - he has created some of the most interesting crazy women characters brought to the screen.
These women are jealous, vengeful, manipulative and passive-aggressive, but Allen's films are not spectacles of misogyny. His men are as irrational as his women, if not as mysterious and complex. But what truly makes Allen's troubled women so memorable is that he doesn't just photograph actors. He casts very talented people and gives them the space to shine.
Like Elia Kazan in the first production of "A Streecar Named Desire," Allen sets the stage and asks his actors to be real. "Blue Jasmine" has a whole host of great actors and beautiful cinematography, but the finest thing it does is give Cate Blanchett an arena to display the full range of her abilities as the fading Manhattan belle whose pretensions to wealth and culture only thinly mask her alcoholism and delusions of grandeur.
The 1080p Sony transfer is flawless, highlighting the lovely, soft, "golden hour" photography of Javier Aguirresarobe. As in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," this Spanish cinematographer draws on his early work in documentary to capture Allen's signature, dramatically dense, long mise en scene shots. The clarity of the Blu-ray is excellent. Nevertheless, as long as your television is appropriately calibrated, you retain the soft, romantic look of the original film.
The soundtrack is functional and reserved. Like almost all of Woody Allen's movies, it's a dialogue heavy piece and the dialogue can be heard clearly and consistently from the center-front speakers. Vocal nuances are captured nicely in Sony's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Once in a while you'll hear some surround sound, but if you've gotten used to watching Allen's films with a typical mono optical soundtrack, this sound is stunning.
The Special Features on a Woody Allen Blu-ray are like the credits in his films - practical and spare, nothing fancy. You don't buy this director's Blu-rays for their Special Features. Two token features are thrown-in: "Notes From the Red Carpet" and "'Blue Jasmine' Cast Press Conference." These are brief and mildly interesting, but they add no real insight into the film or aid to enjoying it. Of course, there's also the Theatrical Trailer, previews and a UV Digital Copy.
Blu-ray + UltraViolet
Sony Pictures | 2013 | 98 min | Rated PG-13 | Jan 21, 2014
Video: Codec: MPEG-4 AVC, Resolution: 1080p, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French