Posted by: greercn | September 7, 2016

Café Society

A middle-aged man is having a secret affair with a much younger woman. A young man moves from New York to Hollywood, hoping to make his fortune. It’s Los Angeles in the 1930s. You might need sunglasses.

If you’re hoping Woody Allen has one more original tale in him, abandon that hope. Stunning sets, beautiful costumes and cars all offer visual treats.

Moments remind you of quite how great Woody used to be. The New York family and nightclub scenes feature some sharp writing and performances. Studio scenes and parties pull the viewer in. And, as always, Woody gets a very talented group of actors together.

Jesse Eisenberg is Bobby, who goes to work for his uncle Phil, played by Steve Carell. Kristen Stewart wears beautiful clothes and has some great lines, but she suffers from the rather cartoonish quality given to women in Woody movies. I long for someone of the strength of Annie Hall.

Bobby’s parents have some of the funniest lines and Jeannie Berlin and Ken Stott have real warmth and style. Cory Stoll is very entertaining as Bobby’s brother Ben and Blake Lively, again, has a half-formed person to act as.

Sheryl Lee’s character disappears partway through, never to be heard of again. This is irritating as she does engage my emotions.

And that’s the real trouble. I never really care about what is going to happen to any of these people. It all feels sombre and even the laughs are of the rueful type.

The Stratford East Picturehouse was full and we enjoyed it. But it is shallow stuff. Maybe Woody should live as a poor man in New York City for a bit and see if that inspires him to tell stories that matter.

Go see it if you have to see everything Woody does and if you love the look and feel of 1930s luxury.

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Responses

  1. Hmm – shame it doesn’t quite live up to the fantasticness that is vintage Woody. Nice review!

    • ‘Fantasticness’ – that’s not even an excuse of word.

      • I quite like your new word “fantasticness”. I wanted to enjoy this, so much. And it is very pretty to watch. Thanks for the comment.

      • Looks very visually pleasing – I’ll be giving it a go

  2. The clothes, sets and cars are worth seeing from a fashion and style point of view.

  3. Not Woody’s best, but still enjoyable as is. Nice review.

    • Thanks, Dan. It is very lovely to look at.

  4. I saw this because I was late for Snowdon (which I will probably find disappointing as well). Bobby’s funny lines sound as if a younger Woody Allen was speaking them, i.e. nothing new under the sun. Kristen Stewart is every nebbishe Jewish boy’s shiksa fantasy; reminds me of the young Cybill Shepherd in the Last Picture Show.

    • That’s really interesting, Sam and I agree. I think the strength of this film is in its visual appeal. The main thing that annoys me about Woody’s movies is that he is only really interested in the rich and successful.


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