Originally set for release in 2019, the movie is now getting a somewhat grudging release in a handful of American theaters, which seems about right. The story feels like a faded Xerox of an idea somebody once scribbled down on a napkin for an Allen-like comedy, only featuring little of the filmmaker’s wit or romanticism…
Jesse Eisenberg goes to 1930s Hollywood in Woody Allen’s latest time machine romantic comedy. All the outfits are fantastic and the jazz (of course) is hot.
Cafe Society is playing now in limited release. My review is at PopMatters:
Café Society is nearly done before it gets off a halfway decent joke. Not that it’s been trying too hard before then to be funny, or anything much in particular besides reheat some old Allen material and stir it around before calling it a day. You get the sense that he was already plotting out his next film while still dashing off dialogue for this one…
From a party scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, where Allen plays a writer named Isaac who, like many of us these days, seems confused that some matters are believed to still be up for discussion:
Isaac: Has anybody read that Nazis are going to march in New Jersey, you know? We should go there, get some guys together, you know, get some bricks and baseball bats and really explain things to them.
Man: There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times. It is devastating.
Isaac: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point.
Woman: Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force.
Isaac: No, physical force is always better with Nazis. It’s hard to satirize a guy with shiny boots.
Since the late and mellifluous George Plimpton knew just about everybody, when he came up with a random query, there were always plenty of good sources to chat up. So, when after hearing Norman Mailer talk about a supposed close call with lion in Zaire which he later determined was a good way to die, Plimpton tracked down some literary figures and asked them for how they imagined their final moments.
“When I go, everyone goes with me. You are all figments of my waking dreams and I suggest that each and every one of you shapes up and prays that I live long.” — Gore Vidal
“I enter a house where I have been invited. It’s dark. Two large, silhouetted figures emerge from hiding. Their voices are familiar, though I can’t place them accurately. One says, ‘It’s him.’ The other says, ‘I hope so.’ Suddenly one grabs me and pins my arms to my side while the other holds a small pillow across my face. At first, the pillow is not centered properly and it takes some effort for me to adjust it…. Just before I succumb I hear one of the figures say, ‘we did this because it was important, though not absolutely necessary.’” — Woody Allen
“I can’t decide if I’d rather go after the thirteenth or the fourteenth line of a sonnet; the thirteenth would give you something to do in the afterlife. By the same reasoning, while the ball is in the air, off the face of a perfectly swung five-iron, and yet has not hit the green where it is certain to fall.” — John Updike
“I really don’t care much how it will happen, and I don’t think I will care much more when it does.” — Joseph Heller
Woody Allen’s newest comedy of social status and anxiety, Blue Jasmine, had a quiet launch this week, almost as though the studio thought that it would sell itself. It might not be his funniest movie in some time but it does feature the best lead performance that he’s directed in years. That would be Cate Blanchett, stepping out of Galadriel’s diaphanous glow and tackling a real-world character with an almost frightening intensity.
Woody Allen knows that sometimes it’s best just to throw characters into the deep end and see if audiences want to swim with them. By the time we meet his newest creation, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), she’s in full meltdown, barely holding it together with Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and enough self-delusion to power a third-party presidential campaign…
Greta Gerwig co-wrote and stars in Frances Ha, the new black-and-white pseudo French New Wave comedy from Noah Baumbach, whose Greenberg served as Gerwig’s calling card to Hollywood. It’s a dark-ish comedy, but with plenty of romp and play that should make it a solid summer offering for those less interested in checking out Fast & Furious 6.
Frances Ha is playing now in limited release, and should expand around the country over the summer.
If life were like school, and grades were actually assigned in this manner, than the titular star of Noah Baumbach’s fresh-faced and spirited black and white comedy Frances Ha would get an “A” for effort. As played by Greta Gerwig, one of the most intriguing and effortless performers on the current American film scene, Frances is a flailing wipeout at life. She’s a dancer who can’t quite dance and a 27-year-old who doesn’t possess furniture, much less any clue as to where her life might lead…
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