Café Society

Movie:  Café Society

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   It is the mid 1930s, and a twenty-something Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) needs a job, not to mentiona direction for his life.  He’s living at home with his Jewish family in New York City, and he needs to spread his wings and find himself.  Phone calls are made, and Bobby is off to Hollywood to get a job with his uncle, movie wheeler dealer Phil Stern (Steve Carell).   Bobby has few talents for the movie business, so he becomes a gofer for Phil, and sees the glamorous golden age of Hollywood from the fringes.  But Bobby doesn’t care that he is working menial tasks, because he is smitten with Uncle Phil’s assistant, the lovely Vonnie (Kristen Stewart).

Like most young people, Bobby sees a Hollywood ending for him and Vonnie, but life has a way of smacking us in the face with a dose of reality.  Bobby finds himself heading back to the familiar world of New York City, and finds work as a host in brother Ben’s (Corey Stoll) new night club.  Ben Dorfman is a mobster, and not afraid to use unconventional means of persuasion to get things done.  Soon the Dorfman brothers are running the most successful night club in Manhatten, where the café society dressed in their finest attire  crowd into the place to hobnob with the rich, the famous, and the notorious.  Somewhere along the line, Bobby transforms himself from that nebbish, unsure young man into a suave and sophisticated gentleman in a white dinner jacket, at ease among the patrons seeking his approval and the best tables in his establishment.  One such visitor, Veronica Hayes (Blake Lively), catches Bobby’s eye, and his thoughts turn once again to romance.  But the question remains, can he find true happiness?

If you like Woody Allen movies, you will probably like this film.  It is not a comedy, although a few scenes will allow for a chuckle or two.  This story is more of a drama about relationships and life, and how complicated both can become.  Woody is back in his beloved New York City settings, and paints a nostalgic and rosy picture of life there as well as the ultra glamorous life in 1930s Hollywood.  The story unwinds slowly, helped along by Woody Allen’s narration as well as the smooth jazz sounds that is also a trademark of a Woody Allen film.   The atmosphere of the 1930s was extremely well done, and the plot was decent, not Woody’s best.  The transition of Bobby Dorfman from nice awkward kid to a poor man’s version of Humphrey Bogart running the hippest night spot in town was just too big of a leap.  Go see it; just don’t expect Hollywood endings….

Dialogue Nuggets:  Bobby’s Mother – “You don’t know what it’s like to be busy.  The man eats with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.”

“I’ve heard unrequited love kills more people than tuberculosis.”

Bobby – “When a Jew cooks something, it’s always overcooked to kill the germs.”

Bobby to Vonnie – “I’ve been in love with you from the first time I set eyes on you.  I thought you were a movie star.”

Phil – “Are we on for lunch this Thursday?  I’ll bring this kid, Judy Garland.  I think you’ll like her.”

Bobby – “It’s really kind of a nasty, dog eat dog industry.”

Narrator  “Bobby learned the ins and outs of Café Society, including the members of the underworld.”

Veronica – “I married a stockbroker.  He divorced me, because my best friend was better in bed.”

Bobby’s Dad – “First a murderer, then a Christian?  What did I do to deserve this?” 

Bobby – “I guess some feelings don’t ever die.  Is that good or bad?” 

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