Blue Jasmine

Blue-JasmineIt’s very rare that I see a performance in a film that absolutely takes my breath away. While elements of the film, and there are minor quibbles here, I wish were improved, Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Jasmine is nothing short of brilliant. It’s such a naked performance, that, in its final moments, surpasses anything she has ever done since her first role in Oscar and Lucinda.

Not often does an actor go so far out on a limb to reach the core of a human being unraveling and yet grasping at the shreds of life before succumbing. It’s fascinating to watch. I’m reminded of Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice or One True Thing where she must carry the film and everyone with her so that the film is elevated to high art.

Ms. Blanchett and the supporting cast of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, which includes, most memorably, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin and Bobby Cannavale takes a story that combines both Bernie Madoff and elements of A Streetcar Named Desire, and makes you care about people on the edge of life, despair and delusion.

Go see her performance and be amazed.

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2 Poems Published in Flights

Two poems selected by Adrienne Cassel, Guest Editor for Flights. My thanks to her and Jamey Dunham for their inclusion of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958 and 90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011, which are part of a suite of poems called See America.

90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011

                                         for Nicholas 

In the hour before my vacation ends I meet

a young man who’s heart is as seared

as mine has been these last few years.

We open each other up with everything

we have: our lips, our eyes, our hands.

After, in the cab, he says he’s Googled me.

I’ve been opened up like a book

it seems, like so much Information,

my story spilling forward

from this man who’s researched the

man he’d loved for just an hour. After

our kiss in the cab, the Indian driver,

watching in the rearview at 44th,

discreetly turns. When my hour’s love

has gone, I ask the driver where he’s from.

“Calcutta,” he says. We talk of India’s beauty,

our families, the selfishness of Americans.

I remember the love of Indians in 1981,

in the pre-dawn glow of the Taj Mahal,

the love of the man who’s picture I took

with his wife, hours earlier, Indians both, and

his insistence that I be photographed

with his love before a museum housing

ghosts of the world’s artists – the work

of grace’s fleeting moments.

Is this not the point? To love?

Even for an hour?

For 1/60 of a second?

Or on a cab ride,

our lives speeding forward,

creating love with a kiss, a picture,

a hug with a cabdriver at departure’s curb?

 

Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958

 

It’s the bird I’m thinking of,

this thing of flight, as

I’m driving my girl to Vegas.

The one thing she wanted,

its cage propped against the seat,

wind whipping its feathers,

a few days ago in Playa del Rey

where we met blind.

 

We’re minutes away from marriage

and this white bird comes to mind

who lives inside a cage,

while she takes my hand

at the Chapel of the Bells.

With this ring I lift the latch,

and the bird flies free.

 

We will live our consequences:

this thing in her belly,

a seed that bird

might have eaten as a

blessing before taking flight.

We will lick the wounds and

secrets of youth’s folly.

We will drive home

to the Playa and our

feathers will be full.

The Dogs of Central Park

Watching dogs play in the snow today reminded me of this poem I wrote about all of the dogs of central park, which was inspired by my friend, Fran Reisner’s book, “The Dogs of Central Park.”

You can listen to it here as well. http://tinyurl.com/72oapo8

 

 

The Dogs of Central Park

We come in at all angles from brownstones and high-rises, running, sniffing,

bounding across The Great Lawn in every season, once through saffron gates,

dragging our humans to meet ancestors, generations of buried bones, chased balls,

nipping silk petticoats waiting for attention, the play to begin, discovery.

Down along the paths to The Boathouse where we bathed, and rode

the great ships from shore to shore, in this park, this banquet of smells,

in skyscraper shadows, we strolled under shielding trees protected by angels

wings. Leashed, we crossed Balcony Bridge, lunched at the Ladies’ Pavilion

breaking away to hear Shakespeare’s sonnets sung as we raced up granite

mountains to see our ghosts digging, their paws scratching the history of

New York, the immigrants who tamed and lived with us, building the horizon

up, up, but leaving this beauty here for us, where all streets converge,

mapped by our noses so that we may find each other and urge our offspring

into the great maw of hope, driving our humans, our park, our city, forward.