First off, let me just say that I always look forward to July.
It’s summertime and my birthday falls in July, but July is also when Woody Allen tends to release new films.
This time around, it’s “Café Society,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Parker Posey and Blake Lively among others. It’s always so interesting to see who’ll end up in an Allen film. I would think that most actors would kill to work with him because his films are so “grown up” and they deal with adult issues, questions of life and human dilemmas that are universally relatable.
You don’t see spaceships exploding in Woody Allen films. Thank God. What we do see is plenty of glow and soft camera filters on Stewart among other niceties - and corruption - of that era.
Without giving away the plot, I’ll just say that Allen has sort of done Café Society before. Remember “Radio Days?” Both films are very nostalgic and delve into our rich, cultural past. However, Radio Days had an almost documentary-like feel as opposed to Café Society which is much more romantic … almost like a Hallmark greeting card.
Another thing that both films have in common is Allen’s unique ability to interweave and cross reference upper and lower classes … rich and not so rich … cultured and not so cultured. I love it when he does this. He usually achieves this through exposing flaws in character. Human flaws and frailties continue to be the great equalizer.
It’s great to finally see Jesse Eisenberg in a film where he plays a character that isn’t pretentiously or obnoxiously intelligent. You know, the guy who has to prove that he’s the smartest person in the room. In Café Society, Eisenberg plays a young man who is much more human and flawed in a down to earth way.
Stewart is the love interest literally caught between Eisenberg and Carell and while she’s the female lead and gets lots of screen time, she doesn’t really get to do much. We also only get passing, yet lovely glances at Lively. Carell does a fine job as Eisenberg’s duplicitous uncle.
By the way, can I give a BIG shout out for Parkey Posey? Somehow this great actress makes film after film after film and remains under the Hollywood radar. Of course, much of her work has been indy films, but can somebody give her some starring roles please? She certainly has the chops to cop an Oscar, but she needs the right roles.
Anyway, I enjoyed “Café Society.” Like all of Allen’s films, it’s a cool, summertime diversion. It’s not a masterpiece, but it makes for perfect viewing on a Friday afternoon.