Life, love and laugh­ter

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

CAFE SO­CI­ETY (M)

Direc­tor: Woody Allen (Mid­night in Paris) Star­ring: Jesse Eisen­berg, Kristen Ste­wart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey Verdict: To laugh at life is no lov­ing mat­ter

“Life is a com­edy,” says Bobby Dorf­man (Jesse Eisen­berg). “But it is writ­ten by a sadis­tic com­edy writer,” he adds, as if to warn us of the im­prac­ti­cal jokes the fates have scripted him as he makes the jour­ney from wide-eyed to world-weary in Cafe So­ci­ety.

This tri­fling yet tremen­dously ap­peal­ing pe­riod piece is the lat­est work from pro­lific vet­eran film­maker Woody Allen. Now in his 80s, Allen is very much mov­ing through the twi­light of a busy and var­ied ca­reer. Though this sits mid-spec­trum in terms of his over­all out­put, it is hard to think of a throw­away film more de­light­ful or di­vert­ing in 2016.

Prin­ci­pal set­tings are Los An­ge­les and New York City in the late 1930s. As the story be­gins, Bobby has ditched the Big Ap­ple for Hol­ly­wood with dreams of hit­ting the big time.

His en­try pass comes cour­tesy of an un­cle who is the most con­nected agent in Tin­sel­town, Phil (Steve Carell). Not only does this fasttalk­ing, quick-think­ing op­er­a­tor show his nephew the show­biz ropes. Phil also puts Bobby in touch with a beau­ti­ful sec­re­tary in his em­ploy, Veron­ica (Kristen Ste­wart).

Bobby couldn’t have a bet­ter guide as he gets his bear­ings in un­fa­mil­iar and ex­cit­ing sur­rounds, and it isn’t long be­fore he is hope­lessly smit­ten with his new friend.

If it looks for all the world like ro­mance is in the wings, you’re right and you’re wrong. If we fast-for­ward to a few years later, Bobby is back in NYC run­ning a swank night­club and mar­ried to a dif­fer­ent beau­ti­ful Veron­ica (Blake Lively).

What hap­pened along the way? That’s where those cruel com­edy writ­ers come in.

On a gen­eral level, Cafe So­ci­ety is happy to in­dulge in the same swiftquip­ping, quick-wit­ted nos­tal­gia for old Hol­ly­wood as the re­cent Coen broth­ers’ film Hail, Cae­sar!

How­ever, Allen’s open affin­ity for his char­ac­ters and sly af­fec­tion for how they keep think­ing with their hearts in­stead of their heads forges a sur­pris­ingly per­sonal con­nec­tion to pro­ceed­ings for view­ers.

Eisen­berg and Ste­wart give off a star-crossed chem­istry, while the glo­ri­ous cine­matog­ra­phy of the great Vit­to­rio Storaro (Apoca­lypse Now) ex­udes an invit­ing glow that is be­yond irresistible.

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