IHGB Movie Review: Cafe Society

Cafe Society
Rated: PG-13
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Steve Carrell
The Trailer:

The Gist: Woody Allen wrote and directed it. Enough said.

When I was in college, a girl I worked with casually mentioned that the movie she had seen the night before was one that I probably wouldn’t be interested in. Although I don’t remember its name, I do remember her saying that it would probably be above my head and that I wouldn’t know how to appreciate this high brow piece of art since I grew up in rural East Texas.

I’d like to say that my quick comeback included a Frederick Nietzsche quote, in flawless German, but that didn’t happen. If memory serves me correctly, I spent the better part of the afternoon wiping away renegade tears.

Whenever I watch a Woody Allen film, I appreciate the fact that this man has been doing his thing for a very long time. They guy has basically written one movie a year since the 60s. Everyone wants to work with him, so his casts are usually pretty impressive. He likes the misfits, because he’s a misfit, and I like that about him.

His films are always beautiful. The sets are outrageous. The costumes are divine. The people look like they have been plucked directly out of the era. The music complements each and every scene. The dialog is snappy, intelligent and often filled with angst and awkward phrasing.

It’s everything you want in a romance. The components are there for a wonderful movie-going experience, yet I always walk away unfulfilled.

It must be my East Texas upbringing.

My Thoughts:

  • Cafe Society is set in the 1930’s and it absolutely gorgeous. The opening scene (the first seconds of the trailer) is breathtaking on the big screen. Woody Allen has a thing for New York City, and he never paints an ugly picture of her. Way to go cinematographer!
  • The clothes are exquisite, too. Kristen Stewart wears white socks with her sandals and a bow in her hair in almost every scene. The men’s tuxedos and suits are sharp. Silk, fur, jewels and feathers adorn each woman at the night club and it is the stuff dreams are made of, if you’re in my head. How did they have the money to buy a different outfit for every night back then? Plus shoes, accessories and a different hair style?
  • Do you love jazz? Then you’ll love the Cafe Society soundtrack.
  • Jesse Eisenberg plays the jittery nephew who leaves New York to work in Hollywood with his Uncle (Steve Carrell). Eisenberg intrigues me, but I feel he’s the same character in every movie. Think of his character’s voice and mannerisms as Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Now replace the confidence with nervousness and you’ve got Bobby.
  • I am not a fan of Kristen Stewart most of the time. I try to be a fan because Edward loves Bella and I think I should give her another shot when I see a movie where she is billed in the credits. It rarely works. There’s just something about her. Maybe she’s too high brow for me.
  • I am a big fan of Serena van der Woodsen. Blake Lively was the tipping point for me to go and see this movie. She did not disappoint. She could have been an actual person from that time era. She also mellows Bobby out on occasion, which is a definite plus. You should also know that she’s not in many scenes.
  • Steve Carrell can do no wrong in my book. He is my favorite. That’s what she said.
  • Bobby’s brother is a gangster. Allen plays his storyline as this gag, where the brother is always knocking people off and burying them in cement graves down by the river. It’s supposed to be comedy, but the delivery is clunky since the rest of the movie is about a love triangle.
  • The movie is set in a time when Hollywood was enjoying its golden age. Sadly, we never see any movie stars portrayed on screen. We do see their mansions, though.

Survey Says
By watching the trailer, you may assume that Cafe Society is a romantic comedy. That isn’t necessarily the case. In keeping with tradition, I left the theater feeling like I missed the point of the entire movie. Again, that’s how I feel with all Woody Allen films, so take that with a grain of salt.

Photo By: Cafe Society
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
August 15, 2016 2:16 pm

I feel the same way about Serena van der Woodson and all Woody Allen films. I never quite get them. I blame my north Alabama upbringing.

August 15, 2016 3:09 pm

“It’s everything you want in a romance. The components are there for a wonderful movie-going experience, yet I always walk away unfulfilled.” That’s exactly how I felt. While others were saying how much they enjoyed it, I said, “Well, the costumes were wonderful…” I felt unfulfilled. Thanks for articulating my thoughts!

August 15, 2016 4:34 pm

Thanks for the review! I’m not sure I’ll see it (maybe later on DVD), but I always like to read your thoughts on recent releases.

If you haven’t already seen it, I think you would like Florence Foster Jenkins. It’s sentimental, but very well done, not cheesy. I loved it! Meryl Streep once again knocks it out of the park, and Hugh Grant was a great choice as second. Just my opinion, but thought I’d share.

Wendy B.
Wendy B.
August 15, 2016 4:39 pm

Dont feel bad…only movie I ever walked out on was Hannah and Her Sisters –swore I would never pay to see another Woody Allen movie. I have never “gotten” him.

August 15, 2016 9:40 pm

Woody Allen ‘s films always strike me overly self-absorbed and anxious. Please don’t mistake that for ‘high-brow!! I think I ‘get’ them but I don’t really like them. Being originally from NY state might make the underlying emotional tone more familiar to me, but it doesn’t make his films any more enjoyable. Plus…he’s a despicable pedophile that’s protected by his fame, not someone to admire.

p.s. Lincee, you’re wit and creativity are beyond amazing, Thank you for sharing your insights with all of us!!!

August 16, 2016 6:46 am

I walked out of a Woody Allen movie in the 70’s and wouldn’t spend a dime on his work. Lincee, good job on a review that outlines the frustration of his films. I have an issue with his personal life choices as well. Remember, he married his step daughter and there was alleged abuse involving his young daughter.

Erin D
Erin D
August 16, 2016 8:17 am

It’s interesting, you mentioned the costumes, the sets, the score, the casting, and the dialog, but not the story. A lot of Woody Allen’s recent movies seem to fall down in that department. He has great collections of ideas but they don’t hang together and the movies end up being half-baked. That’s my own theory, anyway 🙂

August 16, 2016 10:52 am

I actually liked the fairly recent Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine but I thought Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins were just wonderful in that movie. I was never a fan of Annie Hall, though it had some good scenes. I’m not sure I enjoy the neurotic male New Yorker characters. Blake Lively has rarely impressed me, though I loved Gossip Girl- Leighton Meester was the MVP on the show for me. Blake Lively was pretty good in her limited role in The Town but I still remember my sister and I literally skipped every scene with her in it during The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 after the first time we saw it. The movie I liked Jesse Eisenberg in the most was Adventureland when some of that neurosis was toned a down a bit- and Kristen Stewart seemed more natural in that movie as well. I liked The Social Network ok but it truly broke my heart that Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin’s friendship was so demolished by creating Facebook.

August 16, 2016 12:14 pm

The two Woody Allen movies I enjoyed are, Magic in the Moonlight (Colin Firth) and Midnight in Paris (I’m a literature nerd). I’m not a fan of his work, (or him) overall even tho I should be, because of my California upbringing lol.

August 16, 2016 12:19 pm
Reply to  Shannon

p.s. I think Kristen Stewart and Jessie Eisenberg both act the same in every movie they are in.

August 23, 2016 10:03 am
Reply to  Lincee

I also agree. I always feel disappointed with the exception of Midnight in Paris. I loved all of it-the lit references, the setting, the acting.

August 16, 2016 4:11 pm

F your former co-worker…..the positive side of that story is that you ultimately were able to use the experience in a review. Love your work and the review….I’m going to see the movie tonight. I hope all is well.

August 16, 2016 9:00 pm

Thank goodness somebody finally said it–I never get his movies either & I’ve seen quite a few! I’m from Mississippi, so maybe you are onto something.

Would love your thoughts! Click here to share.x