Café Society Reviews

  • Jan 14, 2020

    Vittorio Storaro is considered one of the greatest cinematographers of all time and he proves why with his work in this film as he elevates an otherwise forgettable film by presenting us with glorious images of 1930s Los Angeles and New York City. Woody Allen seems to have discovered that his films actually need to look beautiful in order to distract from the difficult to engage with stories he now routinely writes. This is a film full of incredible costumes and beautiful people filling them out and beyond the look of the film there is little to recommend it but there have been recent Allen films that are far more painful to sit through than this one. In the 1930s in New York City the naïve Bobby Dorfman, Jesse Eisenberg, decides to leave his overbearing mother and father behind to live in Beverly Hills and pursue a career under his talent agent uncle Phil Stern, Steve Carell. He is initially rejected by his uncle and put under the care of his secret mistress and secretary Vonnie, Kristen Stewart, who he immediately falls in love with. Stern and Dorfman bond and he takes up a job with him while Stern promises to leave his wife for Vonnie and then reneges which leaves her open to date Dorfman. Their relationship is interrupted when Stern does leave his wife and marries Vonnie who finds him more exciting than the lovesick Dorfman. The younger man moves on with his life and with help from his gangster brother Ben, Corey Stoll, ingratiates himself into the upper crust of New York society by running a trendy night club. He marries attractive divorcee Veronica Hayes, Blake Lively, but his heart remains with Vonnie and when they encounter one another again old feelings bubble up. I could not say that I found the relationship between Vonnie and Dorfman particularly romantic as Eisenberg and Stewart do not have electric chemistry and the section of the film where they are separated is better than the parts where they are together. Where the film finds itself is in capturing various details of the 1930s movie industry as there is a cute scene in which two characters watch Libeled Lady (1936) and yet another in which Vonnie describes meeting Joan Crawford. Throughout the film we hear Carell exchanging anecdotes about movie stars and directors he has interacted with and although it comes across as rather forced there is an enjoyment to be had in hearing jokes about Ginger Rogers or William Powell. This film does not use it's setting as well as The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) did and you do not care for the characters in this film the way that you did for Mia Farrow there but because of the horror of late period Allen I have to take the joy that I can get. Where the film has issues is in the fact that unlike some of Allen's best work it is very difficult to believe that there are any stakes involved in the character's actions. Both Dorfman and Vonnie appear to be financially comfortable living in one of the most beautiful places in the world and while they complain about how shallow the environment is as an audience we do not see what they object to. Vonnie's attraction to Stern is understandable but the fact that she seems to be able to jump between the two men easily means that we do not feel that they would struggle to get back together. This leaves us feeling as though they are each selfish and stupid in being separated and when Dorfman ends up with the unattainably beautiful Lively it is hard to sympathize with him over his yearning for another woman. Allen could have tried to make these two characters and their problems seem slightly more relatable than they appear to us. I doubt that I would be able to tell you about specific plot details from this film in a few years but while I watched it I found myself liking it and even with the inconsequential tale that Allen presents us I had a smile on my face throughout. For those hoping that Allen has returned to form I regret to inform them that he has not but they will have a great deal more fun with this film than they had with Irrational Man (2015).

    Vittorio Storaro is considered one of the greatest cinematographers of all time and he proves why with his work in this film as he elevates an otherwise forgettable film by presenting us with glorious images of 1930s Los Angeles and New York City. Woody Allen seems to have discovered that his films actually need to look beautiful in order to distract from the difficult to engage with stories he now routinely writes. This is a film full of incredible costumes and beautiful people filling them out and beyond the look of the film there is little to recommend it but there have been recent Allen films that are far more painful to sit through than this one. In the 1930s in New York City the naïve Bobby Dorfman, Jesse Eisenberg, decides to leave his overbearing mother and father behind to live in Beverly Hills and pursue a career under his talent agent uncle Phil Stern, Steve Carell. He is initially rejected by his uncle and put under the care of his secret mistress and secretary Vonnie, Kristen Stewart, who he immediately falls in love with. Stern and Dorfman bond and he takes up a job with him while Stern promises to leave his wife for Vonnie and then reneges which leaves her open to date Dorfman. Their relationship is interrupted when Stern does leave his wife and marries Vonnie who finds him more exciting than the lovesick Dorfman. The younger man moves on with his life and with help from his gangster brother Ben, Corey Stoll, ingratiates himself into the upper crust of New York society by running a trendy night club. He marries attractive divorcee Veronica Hayes, Blake Lively, but his heart remains with Vonnie and when they encounter one another again old feelings bubble up. I could not say that I found the relationship between Vonnie and Dorfman particularly romantic as Eisenberg and Stewart do not have electric chemistry and the section of the film where they are separated is better than the parts where they are together. Where the film finds itself is in capturing various details of the 1930s movie industry as there is a cute scene in which two characters watch Libeled Lady (1936) and yet another in which Vonnie describes meeting Joan Crawford. Throughout the film we hear Carell exchanging anecdotes about movie stars and directors he has interacted with and although it comes across as rather forced there is an enjoyment to be had in hearing jokes about Ginger Rogers or William Powell. This film does not use it's setting as well as The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) did and you do not care for the characters in this film the way that you did for Mia Farrow there but because of the horror of late period Allen I have to take the joy that I can get. Where the film has issues is in the fact that unlike some of Allen's best work it is very difficult to believe that there are any stakes involved in the character's actions. Both Dorfman and Vonnie appear to be financially comfortable living in one of the most beautiful places in the world and while they complain about how shallow the environment is as an audience we do not see what they object to. Vonnie's attraction to Stern is understandable but the fact that she seems to be able to jump between the two men easily means that we do not feel that they would struggle to get back together. This leaves us feeling as though they are each selfish and stupid in being separated and when Dorfman ends up with the unattainably beautiful Lively it is hard to sympathize with him over his yearning for another woman. Allen could have tried to make these two characters and their problems seem slightly more relatable than they appear to us. I doubt that I would be able to tell you about specific plot details from this film in a few years but while I watched it I found myself liking it and even with the inconsequential tale that Allen presents us I had a smile on my face throughout. For those hoping that Allen has returned to form I regret to inform them that he has not but they will have a great deal more fun with this film than they had with Irrational Man (2015).

  • Sep 14, 2019

    Woody Allen creates a cute and sensitive story, acted very well from the performers while under their voices plays the Allen's beloved 30's jazz. In my opinion, also, this is one of the best movie of Allen speaking about cinematography.

    Woody Allen creates a cute and sensitive story, acted very well from the performers while under their voices plays the Allen's beloved 30's jazz. In my opinion, also, this is one of the best movie of Allen speaking about cinematography.

  • May 05, 2019

    Un retrato del amor no correspondido ambientado en la epoca dorada de Hollywood es el relato esteticamente impecable que Woody Allen crea en una ola de violencia, odio y rencor. Una comedia ligera cargada de actuaciones memorables y personajes resaltantes.

    Un retrato del amor no correspondido ambientado en la epoca dorada de Hollywood es el relato esteticamente impecable que Woody Allen crea en una ola de violencia, odio y rencor. Una comedia ligera cargada de actuaciones memorables y personajes resaltantes.

  • May 01, 2019

    Pleasant and easy to watch. . . and easily forgotten afterwards. One of the less important Woody Allen films

    Pleasant and easy to watch. . . and easily forgotten afterwards. One of the less important Woody Allen films

  • Apr 13, 2019

    There are some awkward bumps but the overall result remains satisfying under Woody Allen's classy style for an exquisite 50s period flick comparing two major metropoles at opposites with a charming cast to paint the pictures. (B+) (Full review TBD)

    There are some awkward bumps but the overall result remains satisfying under Woody Allen's classy style for an exquisite 50s period flick comparing two major metropoles at opposites with a charming cast to paint the pictures. (B+) (Full review TBD)

  • Apr 01, 2019

    A truly impressive latter years Woody Allen movie. Yes it treads on familiar ground at times, but the characters, dialogue and settings are all exquisite. A beautiful dream.

    A truly impressive latter years Woody Allen movie. Yes it treads on familiar ground at times, but the characters, dialogue and settings are all exquisite. A beautiful dream.

  • Mar 17, 2019

    painfully forgettable in every scene. I really like Jesse eisenberg in everything he does pretty much but its obvious its been over directed and Jesse appears stiff and painfully aware of himself and it really distracts from the film. the casting is just average most of the roles are just replaceable with anyone. Its stale and dated in a bad way. Allen had a chance to really do something but basically he made a sub standard film. Set the bar higher or stop making films.

    painfully forgettable in every scene. I really like Jesse eisenberg in everything he does pretty much but its obvious its been over directed and Jesse appears stiff and painfully aware of himself and it really distracts from the film. the casting is just average most of the roles are just replaceable with anyone. Its stale and dated in a bad way. Allen had a chance to really do something but basically he made a sub standard film. Set the bar higher or stop making films.

  • Feb 17, 2019

    Very elegant, smooth and poignant like a classic jazz tune!

    Very elegant, smooth and poignant like a classic jazz tune!

  • Dec 28, 2018

    It felt sooo fake! I watched it till the end, because the plot was interesting, but unfortunately I never got empathy for the characters, since the lines were just very too much - so cringe and fake that even Jessie Eisenberg and Steve Carrell and all of the other famous actors (who I think are great in other movies) couldn't possibly say them in a believable way. I'm so disappointed right now.

    It felt sooo fake! I watched it till the end, because the plot was interesting, but unfortunately I never got empathy for the characters, since the lines were just very too much - so cringe and fake that even Jessie Eisenberg and Steve Carrell and all of the other famous actors (who I think are great in other movies) couldn't possibly say them in a believable way. I'm so disappointed right now.

  • Dec 27, 2018

    I'm more surprised than anyone I liked this amazing movie. Using boxxy software I'll watch these movies with more pleasure!

    I'm more surprised than anyone I liked this amazing movie. Using boxxy software I'll watch these movies with more pleasure!