Café Society

August 13, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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Woody Allen is, if nothing else, prolific. This film makes the 50th that he has written and directed in 51 years. During that time, he has made some masterpieces, especially during his 20-year heyday from the mid-70s to mid-90s. He has also made some less than successful ventures and a few that can only be described as bizarre (“What’s up, Tiger Lily?” has to be seen to be believed). “Café Society” is neither his best or his worst film. Even by recent standards, it lacks the charm of “Midnight in Paris,” the powerhouse acting of “Blue Jasmine” and taut writing of “Match Point.” That said, it does have charm, strong acting and some clever writing. There are moments (like a scene between Jesse Eisenberg’s Bobby and a prostitute) that are pure Allen, with all of his zany, anxious humor. There is also a depth of understanding about love and human beings that suffuses his best work. In fact, the final moments of the film are absolutely Allen at his best and end the film on just the right note. But the film often stumbled, with humor that fell flat, lifeless dialogue and some wooden acting. These moments were not few but they were balanced by truly delightful ones. Eisenberg has the affable nervousness that one associates with an Allen lead, even if he has more edge and less bumbling. He was particularly effective in his scenes with Kristen Stewart. To my mind, she is one of the most misjudged actresses in Hollywood and she gives a lovely, sweet performance here. Unfortunately, neither of them have the same level of connection with the other characters in the film; when they are not together, neither of them is quite as interesting. I should also note that the film was visually beautiful. Every single set and costume in every single scene was just stunning. 1930s LA and NYC were captured beautifully. I was mesmerized by how gorgeous and glamorous everything was, which, in a film about café society, makes perfect sense. This was far from a perfect movie but it was, in so many ways, quite lovely.

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