'Café Society' [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
(Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD / PG-13 / 2016 / LGF)
Overview: Woody Allen's 'CAFÉ SOCIETY' follows Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) from New York to Hollywood, where he falls in love, and back to New York, where he is swept up in high society night life.
Blu-ray Verdict: Right off the bat, I can summarize that
'Café Society' is a simple tale of love at first sight, and though it comes across as tragically predictable, it's wonderful to look at. Woody Allen has provided a fairly enjoyable take on the romantic genre, with some genuine performances, humor and a story that appears interminable.
That said, and as neatly a summary as you might ever find about the film, there is a deeper, underlying aspect to it also, of course. 'Café Society' is written and directed by Woody Allen and stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Corey Stoll, Blake Lively, Ken Scott and Jeannie Berlin.
A different slant to the substance of the film is that in the 1930s, a young Bronx native moves to Hollywood, where he falls in love with the secretary of his powerful uncle, an agent to the stars. After returning to New York, he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life.
Woody Allen's 'Café Society' is one of those little pleasurable chunks of cinema that really attracts the eye, if only for its beautiful visuals and grading. Though a simple concept, the story feels cherished and carefully written, with a sense of freshness. Our main leads, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, appear genuine and seem to have a clear perception of their respective characters. However romantic or predictable the tale may seem, there's always humor in sight, as a means of being astray from the typical route in romantic dramas.
General "cinema goers" and now "sofa settlers" may not willingly accept such a film, but fans of Hollywood's Golden Age will most certainly find enjoyment in this subtle take on the genre. As aforementioned, the cinematography is intricate in detail, highlighting the outstanding visual sets, costume design and performances on-screen. Kudos to Vittorio Storaro.
I do have a soft spot for Eisenberg's work, but this doesn't cloud my judgement. I find him truly great in his portrayal of Bobby, delivering some profound humor in many scenes. Stewart's performance was as I'd imagined, though seeming more passionate than I've seen before. She is an alluring actress and it's clear why she was cast in her role of Vonnie. Steve Carell, Corey Stoll, Blake Lively, Ken Scott and Jeannie Berlin all provide an average support act, further developing the screenplay in what felt to me like an effort to "pad out" the edges. That said, Carell's character, Phil Stern, is as important as Eisenberg's or Stewart's.
In closing, please do not expect an original score when entering 'Café Society', though do anticipate a brilliantly curated soundtrack; featuring music by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart and many more. It undoubtedly aids the visuals and the stunning backdrop of 1930s Hollywood and New York. Go out and buy it. Stay in and rent it. Either way, view it for it is yet another, albeit not his best, Woody Allen masterclass. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.00:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:
"On The Red Carpet" Featurette
Official 'Café Society' Trailer
Official 'Café Society' Website