Café Society—Written, Directed and Narrated by Woody Allen/starring Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Corey Stoll, Kristen Stewart, Jeannie Berlin, Ken Stott, Blake Lively/ 1hr 36mins/PG-13
Bifocal Reviews Written By Ageless1der Barbara Rich and The Other Guy
(BR): I basically enjoyed the fashion and set direction of this period piece, and I loved the music. I thought the storyline was weak and I probably would have cast most of the major roles differently. I’m not saying that those chosen did not do a good job, but I think different actors would have been better suited. There were a few funny lines, but not enough to keep me fully engaged. I was surprised when such a small part by Blake Lively was given so much hype in the pressroom. When I went into the film, I thought she was the main star. That was not the case. I’ve never been a big Steve Carell fan and thought he was the most notably miscast. Eisenberg did a suitable Woody Allen imitation in his delivery of lines, but still I left the movie feeling something was lacking. I give this film two out of five binoculars, mostly for music and nostalgia.
(OG): From the opening scene (which, by the way is in the international trailer we selected to accompany this review) you see that Woody Allen is an expert filmmaker. From start to closing credits, a keen eye for detail is evident. This was not my favorite Woody Allen film, by far. However, even though it is not his best, the 96 minute investment you will make when viewing Café Society, will only serve to reinforce the contention that Woody Allen’s average film is far better than 95% of what is out there right now. I came away with vivid memories of some scenes and lines, but cannot tell you the name of the last previous three movies I’ve seen before this one! Obviously the standard themes of west coast vs east coast, fluff vs. substance, male vs. female, life vs. death, all of which we’ve come to expect in an Allen film were here. One line that I know will stay with me came from the narrator, “Jews don’t believe in an afterlife. If we did, we’d probably get more customers.” On the other hand, I thought Eisenberg’s delivery was very spot-on Woody Allen, and therefore wondered why Woody felt compelled to (in his own voice, unrelated to anything on the screen) narrate the film over the acting in the first place. For the same reasons as Barbara and some memorable lines and direction, I give this film three binoculars.