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Archive for July, 2013

Cate Blanchett gives perhaps the greatest performance of her career in Blue Jasmine.

Cate Blanchett gives perhaps the greatest performance of her career in Blue Jasmine.

After taking a movie-watching vacation for much of June and July, I returned to the cinema last week to see Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen’s 44th film. I’ve seen more films by Woody than any other director, so I approach each one with a mix of love and skepticism. If I sound hard on him here, it’s only because I know he was once capable of so much more. You can read my full review over at Next Projection.

Woody Allen doesn’t much care for shades of gray these days. Would you, if you wrote and directed a film per year for four decades? Wouldn’t you start to rely on lazy shortcuts and cannibalize your own catalogue of punch lines, plotlines, and themes? Wouldn’t you, nearing 80, just want to get the damn thing done and go to bed at a reasonable hour?

Given his geriatric age and vast output, Woody’s diminishing returns are, at least, understandable. You can’t stay spry forever. Still, I know 28-year-olds with less lust for life than what Woody displays in Vicky Christina Barcelona and, his latest, Blue Jasmine. The man remains forever curious about the human heart, even as his chops as a writer/director continue to wear with age.

Blue Jasmine, for starters, tells a story we haven’t heard before from Woody. Where Match Point echoed Crimes and Misdemeanors and Midnight in Paris aped The Purple Rose of Cairo, Blue Jasmine doesn’t feel like a complacent riff off an earlier, greater Woody Allen picture. This fact alone marks progress, given the director’s shameless tendency to recycle his own material.

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I recently spent a week in Iceland with two of my closest friends. We took more than 3,000 pictures as we toured Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, the South Coast, and the Westman Island of Heimaey. I edited the following music video as a tribute to Iceland — its natural wonders, its impossibly friendly people, its over-the-top nightlife. The video is set to “Untitled 3” by Sigur Ros, a band that first sparked my fascination with Iceland more than 10 years ago. My hope is the video transcends being a mere memory trigger for myself and serves as a snapshot of the country’s raw beauty and idiosyncratic charms. I suggest watching in HD, given the high quality of the photos used in the video. Thanks for watching!

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