Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Strange Case of Blue Jasmine's Computer Class

Woody Allen's latest, Blue Jasmine, contains an excellent performance by Cate Blanchett made all the more impressive by her realistically going through the motions of one of the strangest plot devices I have ever come across in an Allen film.  In the film, Jasmine, a wretched, selfish, despicable woman, needs to take an online interior decorating course but doesn't know how to use a computer.  Her solution is to take a computer course first.  This is, to be kind, nonsensical.

Only because she possesses a smart phone do I know for sure the movie does not take place in 1995 and, thus, might be believable that someone would take a computer course to learn how to take an online course.  This is a sad case of the near 80 years old Woody Allen simply being out of touch with how the world works these days.  And it's a bit jarring.

I liked Blue Jasmine mainly for the performances, even if the characters themselves seemed taken from different eras, genres and planets from one another. And while that kind of thing might be off putting to a viewer, what the movie really needed was a consultant for Woody to show him how the world works nowadays, as in actually works, with technology and all.   Eventually, this kind of thing sinks a movie.

In the world of Blue Jasmine, people still take computer courses to learn how to use computers.  Not computer courses to become programmers.  That's normal.  No, these people are taking classes to learn how to operate something that was made user-friendly to toddlers over fifteen years ago.  Here's how you take an online course in interior decorating:  You google it and then sign up.  Done.

Also, Woody doesn't understand that in this day and age, a diplomatic/politician wannabe who met up with this woman would come nowhere near proposing to her without some extensive googling first.  Seriously, the plot turns - turns that would have worked fine in 1990 - now seem silly in the age of the internet.   In fact, they're unbelievable.  And that hurts the film.

The actors who were more hip to this kind of thing should have let Woody know.  Just a gentle, "So, uh, Woody.  Listen, um, it would probably be better for Jasmine to just sign up for an interior decorating class at the local college than do this computer thing 'cause that doesn't actually work the way you think it does."  That way, she can still meet the lady who invites her to the party that becomes very important to the plot without the moronic plot device that nearly sinks the whole thing.  

Blue Jasmine exists in a world that Woody Allen still thinks exists, and it doesn't.   Somebody should tell him.