Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cafe Society - Movie Review

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey, Ken Stott and Anna Camp.
Written & Directed by Woody Allen.


Oh look, a movie about a nebbish Jew from New York who's contemplating adultery. Must be a Woody Allen film.

I enjoy the Windsor font of the opening credits playing over an old jazz tune. It tells you right away you're back in that world, no matter what time period. This one takes place in the late 1930's, when Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) heads to Hollywood to work for his powerful agent uncle Phil (Steve Carell). While there, he falls for Phil's secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). Vonnie has a secret boyfriend, but she enjoys her time with Bobby.

Eventually Bobby moves back to New York to help run a nightclub with his gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll). Ben has killed many people to get ahead, and that aspect of him is played for droll effect.

There are some other twists and turns, but the plot moves along in haphazard fashion. The tone keeps shifting abruptly, and Allen seems to be aiming for the sweet spot of Crimes & Misdemeanors where he can go back and forth between comedy and drama. I would say Cafe Society was filmed before the script was really ready. There are themes he brings up which he then drops without really exploring them.

As for the cast, the standout was Kristen Stewart. She has a fresh-faced buoyancy to her performance that shows she's really put the Twilight films in her rear-view. With luck, her career will continue this crawl back to credibility.

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