Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Woody Allen: Blue Jasmine (Take III)

Work and its nature. What is it? How much is it worth to you? How much are you worth to it? Who's counting and why? What kind of cards have you been dealt? Is change a desire? A possibility? How about stability? Working alone or with others? Helping or harming yourself, or others? how about satisfaction? Enjoyment? Or scraping by?

Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine (2013) delves into the existential nature of work and station in life. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), having lost her temporary (in the grand scheme of things) status quo lifestyle of operating inside a "magical" realm of serious wealth, must try to figure out what to do with her life in the aftermath of this loss. She says she has no interest, no aptitude for "menial" work. What is "menial" work? How much is your labor "worth" in terms of cash, benefits, health, intangibles? 

Key discussions in Blue Jasmine -- some of them heated -- drive along the divide between wealthy class and working class lifestyles. These are epitomized by pithy banter moving back and forth between Jasmine and Chili (Bobby Cannavale), Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) and Jasmine, and Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and Jasmine. Other "haves" find voice in Hal Francis (Alec Baldwin), Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), and to a lesser extent, Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Probably the wisest approach to most people and their work comes from the XIVth Dalai Lama: 

"Any love or compassion which entails looking down on the other is not genuine compassion. To be genuine, compassion must be based on respect for the other, and on the realization that others have the right to be happy and overcome suffering, just as much as you. On this basis, since you can see that others are suffering, you develop a genuine sense of concern for them."

In Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen follows this logic pretty closely. 

Today's Rune: Wholeness.          


jodi said...

Erik=as long as you do what you do wholeheartedly and with total passion, it's the right thing for you!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Francine Prose tore it apart in the NYRB. I still intend to see it because her argument seemed poor to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana has remarked that I don't get Woody Allen's humor and themes because they are tied to New York. Could be.

Anonymous said...

Did you hear this thing about Bill Vollmann? Unbelievable.


Adorably Dead said...

Sounds interesting. The theaters around me never show anything Woody does. *pout*