IHGB Movie Review: Cafe Society
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Steve Carrell
The Gist: Woody Allen wrote and directed it. Enough said.
When I was in college, a girl I worked with casually mentioned that the movie she had seen the night before was one that I probably wouldn’t be interested in. Although I don’t remember its name, I do remember her saying that it would probably be above my head and that I wouldn’t know how to appreciate this high brow piece of art since I grew up in rural East Texas.
I’d like to say that my quick comeback included a Frederick Nietzsche quote, in flawless German, but that didn’t happen. If memory serves me correctly, I spent the better part of the afternoon wiping away renegade tears.
Whenever I watch a Woody Allen film, I appreciate the fact that this man has been doing his thing for a very long time. They guy has basically written one movie a year since the 60s. Everyone wants to work with him, so his casts are usually pretty impressive. He likes the misfits, because he’s a misfit, and I like that about him.
His films are always beautiful. The sets are outrageous. The costumes are divine. The people look like they have been plucked directly out of the era. The music complements each and every scene. The dialog is snappy, intelligent and often filled with angst and awkward phrasing.
It’s everything you want in a romance. The components are there for a wonderful movie-going experience, yet I always walk away unfulfilled.
It must be my East Texas upbringing.
- Cafe Society is set in the 1930’s and it absolutely gorgeous. The opening scene (the first seconds of the trailer) is breathtaking on the big screen. Woody Allen has a thing for New York City, and he never paints an ugly picture of her. Way to go cinematographer!
- The clothes are exquisite, too. Kristen Stewart wears white socks with her sandals and a bow in her hair in almost every scene. The men’s tuxedos and suits are sharp. Silk, fur, jewels and feathers adorn each woman at the night club and it is the stuff dreams are made of, if you’re in my head. How did they have the money to buy a different outfit for every night back then? Plus shoes, accessories and a different hair style?
- Do you love jazz? Then you’ll love the Cafe Society soundtrack.
- Jesse Eisenberg plays the jittery nephew who leaves New York to work in Hollywood with his Uncle (Steve Carrell). Eisenberg intrigues me, but I feel he’s the same character in every movie. Think of his character’s voice and mannerisms as Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Now replace the confidence with nervousness and you’ve got Bobby.
- I am not a fan of Kristen Stewart most of the time. I try to be a fan because Edward loves Bella and I think I should give her another shot when I see a movie where she is billed in the credits. It rarely works. There’s just something about her. Maybe she’s too high brow for me.
- I am a big fan of Serena van der Woodsen. Blake Lively was the tipping point for me to go and see this movie. She did not disappoint. She could have been an actual person from that time era. She also mellows Bobby out on occasion, which is a definite plus. You should also know that she’s not in many scenes.
- Steve Carrell can do no wrong in my book. He is my favorite. That’s what she said.
- Bobby’s brother is a gangster. Allen plays his storyline as this gag, where the brother is always knocking people off and burying them in cement graves down by the river. It’s supposed to be comedy, but the delivery is clunky since the rest of the movie is about a love triangle.
- The movie is set in a time when Hollywood was enjoying its golden age. Sadly, we never see any movie stars portrayed on screen. We do see their mansions, though.
By watching the trailer, you may assume that Cafe Society is a romantic comedy. That isn’t necessarily the case. In keeping with tradition, I left the theater feeling like I missed the point of the entire movie. Again, that’s how I feel with all Woody Allen films, so take that with a grain of salt.