Movie Date: Cafe Society
Almost everyone shines in this old timey love story.
STARRING: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll
DIRECTOR: Woody Allen
THE SKINNY: A young, naive but ambitious man, Bobby (Eisenberg), leaves the Bronx for Hollywood in search of fame and fortune. He befriends Vonnie (Stewart), a street-smart secretary working for Bobby’s uncle Phil (Carell), a high-powered Hollywood agent. Romance blossoms between Vonnie and Bobby, but when it goes south, Bobby returns to New York and starts a high society nightclub with his mobster brother Ben (Stoll).
Cafe Society is a wish-fulfilment fantasy for director Allen.
He's obviously using Eisenberg as a stand-in for himself - nebbishy like him but slightly more handsome.
Allen has Eisenberg talk like him, but in a much smoother and more confident manner.
Bobby works in a swinging jazz club, and Allen has always been a jazz nerd.
Bobby woos not one but two of Hollywood's great beauties, Stewart and Lively, and of course Allen has always lusted after ladies way out of his league.
And Cafe Society is set in the old-timey 1930s, an era that seems to have a fetishistic appeal for Allen.
Eisenberg is Allen in an ideal world and I think it's great.
I wish more directors were this self-indulgent, as naked in exposing and expressing their deepest desires.
Most moviemakers are mercenaries who pander to the public.
Allen makes movies for himself, so, of course he cares more and tries harder than many.
This is a beautiful-looking flick filled with wit and wonder.
Every character, even the minor ones, are lovingly crafted.
The drama is engaging, the subtle humour infectious, the twists and turns fun.
Though it's not my preferred aesthetic, it's hard not to appreciate Cafe Society's sepia-toned charms.
Stewart once again finds herself caught between two men.
But don't fret, this is not The Twilight Saga.
Stewart is far removed from that bygone character of Bella Swan, and is lively and winsome. It's no wonder Eisenberg is enamoured of her cool, sunny personality.
Since his early collaborations with Diane Keaton to more recent muses Scarlett Johansson, Cate Blanchett and Emma Stone, Allen knows how to create magic with his leading ladies.
Stewart is quite a revelation here, no doubt aided by the electric chemistry she shares with Eisenberg.
He proves to be a strong lead, working all that neurotic energy of a requisite Allen protagonist.
Carell also offers great support, providing a pompous, glitzy view of show business.
While Stewart looks the part with those hair bands and flirty frocks, it is Lively, as Bobby's eventual wife Veronica, who delivers old-world Hollywood glamour.
It's a pity though that her role is nothing but a beautiful distraction.
The subplot revolving around Ben's gangster activities also comes across as uneven.
The solid work from Stewart and Eisenberg, coupled with the extremely beautiful 1930s settings, balances out Allen's latest tale that doesn't bring anything new to the table.
THE CONSENSUS: Almost everyone shines in this old timey love story.