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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cafe Society (2016)

Set in the early 1930s, a young man (Jesse Eisenberg) is unhappy working in his father's (Ken Stott) New York jewelry business. So he moves out to Hollywood where his uncle (Steve Carell) is a powerful agent in the film business. When he falls in love with his uncle's mistress (Kristen Stewart), he will find out the hard way that your first love always stays with you. Woody Allen is back in top form and this is his best film since the charming MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011). The beginning of the film, the Hollywood section, is rough and seems aimless at times but it coalesces in the second half, the New York section. The Hollywood section drops more names than a squealer at a HUAC hearing and Allen doesn't always get the time sequence right: Hedy Lamarr was not yet in Hollywood much less a star in 1935. In the end, it's a bittersweet (in every way) coming of age story. While there are no stand out performances, Eisenberg and Stewart continue the chemistry they showed in last year's underrated AMERICAN ULTRA. Eisenberg is the Woody Allen stand in here but Eisenberg brings much more depth to the part than Woody Allen ever did playing Woody Allen. But the film belongs to Kristen Stewart. I stand to be corrected but I believe this may be the first time Allen has directed a film in L.A. since ANNIE HALL. With Blake Lively, Jeannie Berlin, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey, Paul Schneider, Sheryl Lee and Stephen Kunken. 

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