Cafe Society

2016 bittersweet romantic comedy

Rating: 13/20

Plot: A kid moves out to Hollywood to find work with his movie bigwig uncle and instead falls in love with his secretary. Unfortunately, that secretary only has one facial expression. It's a nice facial expression, but after a while, you just wish she had another one. Of course, to confound the situation further, his uncle is also having an affair with the secretary and even plans on leaving his wife to marry her.

This movie has a great look, especially with the contrasts in looks between the grit or sophistication of the New York scenes and the gloss or dreaminess of the Hollywood ones. The cinematography is excellent here, and Woody's camerawork feels effortless. This is a very pretty movie.

Unfortunately, the story is a little waterlogged with two bad lead performances and writing that just seems a little tired to me. Jesse Eisenberg, who apparently is going to be in every Woody Allen movie from now on, sort of acts like a young Woody Allen if you replace the neurosis with something closer to assholery. He does that throaty chuckle thing that grates on my nerves a little too much here, and he seems to think that he can out-act any other leading man in Hollywood with nothing more than his eyebrows. Kristin Stewart is easy on the eyes and probably better here than she is in most of the other things I've seen her in. Still, that's not really good. With two performances that I just couldn't buy, a relationship that should have been profoundly sad was just kind of there.

The best performances are from people you don't really know. Allen paints Jewish life in New York during this time period with broad strokes, but the characters add color and must of the humor.

But it's really the visuals that steal the show. Along with the music, he captures this particular time that he's obviously passionate about. If the story doesn't fully work, at least this is a nice homage to this period of time. Woody probably could have handled it without all the name dropping though.

I also liked the music. It's indistinguishable from anything I've heard in any of Woody Allen's more recent movies though.

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