Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Café Society

Café Society ~ I have always been a Woody Allen fan, although admittedly more of his funny early work than his later still-funny-but-in-a-different-way intellectual think pieces. Recent years have added the problem of Woody himself not being able to play his characters because he's just too old (perhaps he should write older characters? Just a thought, I like his narrative template just fine), and has employed other actors essentially playing himself, like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris (which I loved) and here Jesse Eisenberg in Café Society.

Jesse Eisenberg is quite good here, just like Wilson he slips seamlessly into the Woody shoes and world. Also good in the Facebook film The Social Network, it seems to me that his misstep as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was just bad casting. Eisenberg can be amazing in the right role, he just has to be a bit more picky.

Café Society has Jesse Eisenberg as young Jewish New Yorker Bobby Dorfman who wants to go to Hollywood in the 1930s to make his fortune. In his element, Woody is the master here, and builds an authentic world filled with his wonderful dry wit. While in Hollywood, working for his uncle, played by Steve Carell, he meets the perfect girlfriend, Vonnie, played by Kristen Stewart, who is Uncle Phil's secretary. One glitch, she has a boyfriend, but what young Bobby doesn't know is that that boyfriend is Uncle Phil.

Vonnie has to choose between her boyfriends and eventually goes for money and stability over love. Bobby loses and goes back to New York to work in his gangster brother's nightclub. He takes to it like a fish to water, becoming a big shot in the business. And then Phil and Vonnie come to visit. She's changed, but still she and Bobby try to rekindle their romance, even though things can never be the same.

I really liked this film a lot, even with Eisenberg pinch-hitting for Woody. Surrounded by a powerful period piece and wrapped in Woody's flair for New York, the actors shine in this little flick, and the score is wonderful. Recommended. I certainly hope folks come out to see this one. When I saw it, it was a 'private screening,' as there was no one else in the theater, which was a shame.

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