Sunday, October 23, 2016

Now on Amazon Prime: Cafe Society (2016)

Cafe Society movie poster
Cafe Society (2016) - Written and Directed by Woody Allen; Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Anna Camp, Parker Posey, Paul Schneider.

By Kenny Howell

Woody Allen goes back to 1930s Hollywood in this elegant little love story starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart.

Eisenberg (Now You See Me) plays Bobby, a young man from the Bronx that feels the draw of Hollywood. His uncle Phil, played by Steve Carell (The Big Short), is a powerful agent out there, representing just about every big name you can think of from the golden age of Hollywood.

After weeks of trying to meet with the crazy busy Phil, Bobby finally pins him down and gets a job at his agency. There he meets Phil's secretary Vonnie, played beautifully by Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria). She shows him around Los Angeles, and the two strike up a relationship, despite the fact that she is seeing someone else. She keeps it as a friendship initially, but he makes it quite clear that he wants more. When her boyfriend ends it, Vonnie turns to Bobby, but her past relationship is still very much there, hanging like a cloud over what is blossoming between Bobby and Vonnie.

You can tell when Allen (Blue Jasmine) really latches onto material because some films just really pop more than others. His best movies have an energy about them, and some do it through the setting. You can tell Allen is enamored with this time period in Los Angeles because it just sparkles on screen. That includes Stewart, whose wardrobe should earn an Oscar nomination for the film.

Also worthy is Stewart herself, who adds another dimension to her terrific body of work. I never have seen her as elegant, but she definitely is in this film. You can really see why the two men are battling over her. She has always been an insightful actress, and usually tends toward those roles, but here she is unbelievably charming. Eisenberg, being the Allen stand in here, plays off that well and lets Stewart steal the screen.

Cafe Society does fall back on some of Allen's bad habits, like how the characters have to over explain everything, from their emotions, to setting up the scene, but there is enough there to let that slide. It isn't one of Allen's better works, but it is certainly a worthy entry to his oeuvre.

Cafe Society is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: ***

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