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Reading the "Blue Jasmine" Clues

Retracing Woody Allen's steps through the streets of San Francisco shooting his latest film.

Allen and company popped up in at least 11 locales around the city.
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A) 11th and Market, F-Line streetcar. Credit: Jay Galvin
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B) Gaspare's Pizza House & Italian Restaurant. Credit: Indelicto Gaspare
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C) 24th and Florida area, Casa Lucas Market. Credit: David Bueso
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D) 48th Avenue. Credit: Irene Ton
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E) Ocean Beach. Left to right: Allen, Sally Hawkins, Louis CK. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics
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F) Aub Zam Zam bar. Credit: Erik Larson
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J) Chinatown, Grant Avenue. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.
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K) Union Square. Credit: Aude/Creative Commons
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Woody Allen likes to keep his plots shrouded in secrecy, but as details emerge about the much Instagrammed Blue Jasmine, the biggest remaining mystery might be: Why the hell is it opening on July 26 in New York and L.A., but not until August 2 in San Francisco, where it was filmed? Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, a Xanax-popping ex-Manhattan socialite who is a little bit Ruth Madoff, a little bit Blanche DuBois.

Completely broke (yet able to afford first-class on Virgin), she flies here to slum it with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), who is freespirited and thus resides in a large, sunny Mission apartment that Bobby Cannavale and his sexy blue collar also sometimes inhabit. Alec Baldwin is Jasmine’s crookster husband. Peter Sarsgaard is a dishy diplomat who can help solve her financial problems, or the love interest, or both. Louis C.K. plays someone sweeter than the character played by Andrew Dice Clay. Something happens at a dentist’s office.

“Blue Jasmine is not a comedy,” cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe let slip recently. “It is a movie that holds a dramatic mood, coming close to an emotional realism.” “It’s a very heavy movie,” echoes Clay. No wonder Jasmine looks so worried on the poster. Or maybe she just realized that if her plan was to live cheaply, she came to the wrong place.

Follow Woody and Cate's filmmaking tour of San Francisco through the slides and see what else we can puzzle out before the release date:

A) Market and 11th Street, Muni F-Line Streetcar. 

B) 5546 Geary Street, Gaspare’s Pizza House & Italian Restaurant: Jasmine takes Ginger’s two kids to dinner and talks about her life in New York. “They had wonderful close-ups of my house chardonnay,” says owner Gaspare Indelicato. “They wanted smoke coming off of the pizza in each take, so we had to make maybe five or seven pizzas.” Adds Indelicato’s daughter, Julietta, who portrays a waitress in the scene, “I told [Blanchett] I was taking acting lessons, and she told me to do theater first, no matter what.”

C) 24th and Florida area, Casa Lucas Market: Jasmine works the cash register at Casa Lucas Market on 24th and has an argument by the tomatoes. “Woody was very serious that day,” says Daniel Felix, son of the market’s owner. “Everybody was scared of him and stayed very quiet. It got pretty boring.”

D) 48th Avenue: Could this be the office where, according to Aguirresarobe, Blanchett’s character is harassed by a dentist played by Michael Stuhlbarg?

E) Ocean Beach: Ginger and the Louis C.K. character (a sound engineer named Al) have a heart-to-heart discussion.

F) Aub Zam Zam, 1633 Haight Street: Jasmine and a dentist named Flicker, for whom she may or may not work, have a drink at the bar. “She had a martini,” says bartender Joe Tessitore, “and I made the lemon twist.”

G) 20th and Lexington streets: “It was difficult for our customers to find parking that day,” says Virginia Montano, owner of the bakery across the street. (It didn’t help that a commercial was also filming on the same day, on the same block.) “But maybe people will see ‘Jocelyn Bakery’ in the middle of the movie—that would be all right with me.”

H) 20th and Capp streets, possibly including Alioto Mini-Park, rows of Victorian flats, and views of Sutro Tower and Bernal Heights Park: “The 20th and Capp hookers will love this.” —scum, via Uptown Almanac

I) South Van Ness Avenue between 14th and 15th streets, outside Estrellita’s New Central Café Ginger’s place. “Cate got out of a taxi with a million suitcases and waited... for a person to answer, only to head into the café, rejected.” —Uptown Almanac

J) Grant Avenue, Chinatown: Jasmine, in need of a heavier sweater, lugs a humongous Hermès-ish purse while strolling with the Hawkins and Cannavale characters.

K) Post Street and Grant Avenue, Union Square, Shreve & Co.: Blanchett’s and Sarsgaard’s characters stop to chat in front of a jewelry display case (says the Chronicle).

Originally published in the July 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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