Daily Archives: August 2, 2019

BLUE JASMINE: Woody Allen Catches Up with Hal Wallis

It seems that class anxiety has become Woody Allen’s key and obsessive theme ever since his movies started to become “serious”, and it’s usually around in some form even in the purer comedies. Indeed, almost all of the cultural concerns of his work wind up having something to do with class issues — almost as if Allen really believed the crazy American myth that espresso and wealth are inextricably interconnected. The main fantasy about expatriate American bohemians in Midnight in Paris isn’t really about art; it’s about Hemingway or somebody like that stepping into a cab and not worrying about having to pay the driver (which F. Scott Fitzgerald or T.S. Eliot can always take care of), and if Gertrude Stein likes your novel, the bottom line is social acceptance and approval, not artistic license or accomplishment.

 

From this point of view, Blue Jasmine represents Allen’s coming-out film, by virtue of placing his class anxieties front and center, not through embarking on any themes that are significantly new for him. The vague use of A Streetcar Named Desire (movie and play) as a loose model, with Cate Blanchett serving as a sort of Yankee Blanche DuBois, parallels the vague uses of A Place in the Sun and An American Tragedy in Match Point.Read more »

The Displacements of THE FORGOTTEN SPACE

From Moving Image Source, April 8, 2011, where it appeared under the title “Sea Change”….Allan Sekula’s untimely recent death remains an incalculable loss.  — J.R.

I’m sure that I learned a lot more from The Forgotten Space — an essay film by Allan Sekula and Noël Burch about sea cargo in the contemporary global economy — than I did from any other feature that I saw last year, fiction or nonfiction. In more ways than one, I’m still learning from it, and its lessons start with the staggering but elemental fact that over 90 percent of the world’s cargo still travels by sea — a fact that seems all the more important precisely because so many of us don’t know it.

Gary Younge recently contextualized this sort of ignorance in the pages of the Guardian (“Wisconsin is making the battle lines clear in America’s hidden class war,” 27 February):

You can tell a great deal about a nation’s anxieties and aspirations by the discrepancy between reality and popular perception. Polls last year showed that in the US 61% think the country spends too much on foreign aid. This makes sense once you understand that the average American is under the illusion that 25% of the federal budget goes on foreign aid (the real figure is 1%).Read more »