Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cafe Society

Plot: Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) moves to 1930's Los Angeles, and gets a job with his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell). Phil and Jesse both fall for office girl Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), and in the aftermath of this love triangle Bobby moves back to New York to work for his gangster brother (Corey Stoll) running an upscale bar & cafe catering to the rich & powerful, the so-called "Cafe Society." Time passes Bobby marries Veronica (Blake Lively), and after while Phil and Vonnie come to New York for a visit. This sets up the final scenes.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review:  Cafe Society is a dialog-driven, character drama, about love and growing up. No one makes movies like this except Woody Allen. The story is universal; it is the wonderful writing that makes it interesting.

Kristen Stewart is the beating heart of the movie, and the corner of the love triangle. She has the best performance. Eisenberg is good, but Bobby is mild-mannered and therefore less interesting to play. Phil is more dynamic; we see some of the driven Steve Carell we saw in Foxcatcher.

The dialog is so good, and even though Eisenberg and Stewart are saying the words, the rhythm and sound are  recognizable from other Allen films.

There are many minor characters including Bobby's Jewish parents and sister, and they have humorous side plots that ultimately fold into the final action. One great character is brother-in-lay Leonard (Stephe Kunken) who waxes philosophical and usually existential whenever he gets to talk. Leonard: Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.' But the examined one is no bargain."

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll

Written, directed and narrated by:
Woody Allen

The Music:
Old fashion and boring, except for that jazz saxophone

The Visuals:
The visuals in the New York club are cool. I liked Kristen Stewart's outfit in her scenes showing Bobby around town. 

3.0 stars: Good and fun to watch. I don't care if people found this similar to other Woody Allen movies, that is not a problem for me. 

More: Kristen Stewart had to audition to get the role.

Even More: Woody could easily modernize his style while preserving the good stuff. I suppose he doesn't want to.

Yet more: Bobby says quite accurately from his point of view that "Life is a comedy written by a sadistic comedy writer." Gotta love that.