Café Society

I was glad to be done with work, and I bought a beef burrito for a late lunch and took a nap.  I heard the news about the Cubs’ big trade.  I also heard about the death of Marni Nixon.  I waited for the bus to take me to Albany.  I arrived at the theatre just a few minutes before the 4:15 showing of “Café Society.”  I thought the movie was OK, though not brilliant, mainly because it used story elements we’ve seen before from Woody Allen.  It felt like a combination of “Manhattan” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” with some bits to “Annie Hall” and “Radio Days” thrown in.  Woody didn’t appear in the picture, but he did a lot of voice-over.  His voice sounds old and thin now, in contrast to the beginning of “Manhattan.”  You could see that Jesse Eisenberg plays the Woody Allen character, while Kristen Stewart is both Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow, and Steve Carell is Michael Murphey and Alan Alda.  There is a lot of contrast between New York and Los Angeles, which is what reminded me of “Annie Hall.”  The woman wavering between the poor, struggling schlemiel and the successful and superficial jackass is what made me think of “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  I didn’t notice a specific year mentioned in the movie, but the movie star references included Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, and Gary Cooper.  I didn’t think the casting quite worked, mostly because of Steve Carell.  I rather liked Jesse Eisenberg.  I found it hard to believe Kristen Stewart in her role as a secretary.  I thought the occasional word or sentence in the script sounded artificial.  There wasn’t much that was really hilarious.  The audience on this afternoon hardly laughed out loud.  One scene with a prostitute brought to mind “Deconstructing Harry.”  Gangsters are in this story, as in “Bullets Over Broadway.”  I saw one of the actors from The Sopranos in a small part.  If you’ve seen some key Woody Allen movies before, then the story with Kristen Stewart’s character takes a familiar path.  I could tell what was going to happen in several scenes.  The characters talk more than in an average movie of these days.  There is a lower energy level to the movie scene by scene.  The cinematographer was Vittorio Storaro, who worked on “Last Tango in Paris,” “Apocalypse Now, and “Reds.”  I thought this movie looked pretty good.  I couldn’t help thinking of “Hail, Caesar!”  I also thought of “I Ought to Be in Pictures,” which I saw a couple of weeks ago.  I wonder how people in Hollywood are going to react to the parts that are critical of the movie business.  When I think about, the soul has gone out of film especially over these past thirty years or so.  This movie could have been better if the characters hadn’t gone through so much dialogue and the pace could have been faster.  I was good to see a movie that wasn’t all about technology.  It wasn’t as enjoyable as “Midnight in Paris,” as far as recent Woody Allen films go.  It’s not going to remembered as one of his greatest works.  He should try a real departure, as he did in 1978 with “Interiors.”  He’s used some of these ideas too many times.  After I left the theatre, I went over to Barnes and Noble as asked a cashier for a Blu-ray copy of “Dr. Strangelove,” as it wasn’t on the shelf.  I was pretty pleased with the purchase, because I know that I’ll watch the movie several times.  It came with an envelope similar to the ones the bomber crew got.  I listened to the bad end of the A’s game in Texas on the radio.  I wondered what kind of pitch Ryan Madson threw.  Someone should have talked to him before he threw the pitch.  I wished that Bob Melvin had taken Daniel Mengden out of the game before he gave up those last two runs.  You can’t undo the scoring in baseball.  I listened to Beck’s “Sea Change” album, and then Elton John’s “Empty Sky.”  I was getting very drowsy at this point.  Some of the people who died on July 26 include Evita Peron (1952), Diane Arbus (1971), Mary Wells (1992), and Merce Cunningham (2009).  Today is a birthday for Kevin Spacey (57), Helen Mirren (71), and Mick Jagger (73).

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