Quick Hit: Jesse Eisenberg hits all the Woody Allen stand-in notes in this recent comedy.
Woody Allen’s career path is pretty simple. He hit the Hollywood circuit and everyone loved his movies and his acting. His bumbling, awkward dialogue and delivery had audiences laughing out loud, and his underdog quality had you rooting for him from the start of the film. He has continually put out movies in his later years, though now he tends to stay behind the camera (here he narrates throughout the film). That being said, his characters are written for him, and so you find a continual selection of actors in his movies doing what is essentially an impression of Allen. Here you find Jesse Eisenberg doing just that – a Jew from New York that moves to LA to hit the big time.
For what it’s worth, Eisenberg is pretty spot on with the impression. Before I realized it was a Woody Allen film, that was my first impression of his character – “Hey, he kind of acts like Woody Allen… I wonder who is directing this… Oh.” But, the good thing is that Eisenberg makes it his own. Outside of a few tragic comic scenes – the one with the call girl on her first call comes to mind – Eisenberg is really good. And I think he shows emotion better than even Woody can. There is a scene in the latter half of the film where he is seeing his ex-girlfriend married to another man for the first time and… it’s gut-wrenching, and you see it written across his face.
There are other non-Woody actors though – Steve Carrell as a rich, suave, LA uncle, Kristen Stewart as the primary love interest, and Blake Lively in a secondary role. All are capable, but none stand out to me. Steve Carrell may be the most interesting casting, because he just doesn’t seem to fit the role. He consistently seems to be squirming to find his niche inside the character. Stewart and Lively, though believable in the sense of their beauty, bounce back and forth between believability and unsustainability. They just can’t seem to hold the camera’s attention, almost as if Woody can’t wait to get back to his stand-in.
The dialogue here is typical and enjoyable. The delivery of most scenes is very good, and I thought that the idea of the story was an intriguing one. I wish it would have been tied up more, but I wish that of most Woody films. I think what I most enjoyed about it was the set pieces. From the little New York home, with every shot being claustrophobic, to the wide, open expanses of everything in LA, each piece has something to offer.
Without the sets and Eisenberg, I can see this being average. However, these buoy it up to be slightly above average, and I’m going to give Café Society a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
And what a web it is, my friends. Full of adventure and love, giants and sword fights, this movie truly exists in a category far above many others. It’s the story of Westley and Buttercup, but it’s also the story of so much more. It’s the story of a man full of anger and revenge over his lost father, who nearly drank himself to death before finding a friend to spend his time with. It’s the story of a man who is ostracized due to his size who finds a kindred spirit and people who see past his gigantism. It’s also the story of a man full of greed that will sacrifice anyone and anything in order to get to his goal.
The beauty of this film is that it wraps all these stories together into a beautiful tapestry that you can wrap around yourself when you need to feel goodness and warmth. That’s a remarkable thing for a movie to do. It is just remarkable filmmaking by someone that truly loved the subject material. Rob Reiner did a great job with this, but some people may not know how involved William Goldman was in the film. Not only did he write the book, he also wrote the screenplay, and took place in a lot of the readings of the script originally. He had consistently kept his script from falling into the wrong hands, despite knowing that he had a classic in his hands.
This is mainly due to the perfect dialogue that is written throughout. The movie has to be one of the most quotable of all time. From the very beginning where Peter Falk sits down to talk to Fred Savage, you’re hooked on the language. “As You Wish” will go down in David’s history as one of the greatest uses of language in film. But the humor of the dialogue goes perfectly with the flow of the film, as well as some of the more cheesy effects, like the R.O.U.S, and “The Machine”. That’s something you just can’t see without an eye for material, and Reiner always seemed to have that.
Finally, I’ll round out my gushing over the movie with the cast (and a recommendation). Could anyone else ever play these roles? When you think the fact that Cary Elwes was essentially a nobody before this, and Mandy Pantikin wasn’t quite a household name, it’s amazing to think that this movie succeeded so well. Sure, it has some very famous people in it, from Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and of course, Wallace Shawn and Andre the Giant, but the core is a bunch of unknowns. They perform so admirably and beautifully that you cannot help but love all the characters.
I also wanted to suggest a book to you, which I try not to do often. I don't want the website to seem like a bunch of plugs for material that isn't here. However, please seek out the book As You Wish by Cary Elwes. You won't be disappointed. Some of the stories are incredibly unique surrounding the filming are incredibly unique, and Elwes's voice is perfect for the tale. I highly recommend it.
With a review like this, you know what is going to happen. I’m giving this movie a full “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: A predictable, fluffy love story that is sold entirely on the likeability of its leads.
Apparently I’m diving back into the 90s here, back before Clooney’s charm became only schmarm. Today we’re discussing 1996’s One Fine Day, starring George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer.
In the history of Rom Coms, there are only three kinds in my opinion – films where they love each other from the sight of each other, films where they love each other on sight but don’t know it, and there’s the films where they hate each other and eventually learn to love each other.
This movie thinks it’s the last kind, but really it’s in the second category. Pfeiffer and Clooney continually affirm their dislike through disagreements on each other’s parenting styles (both not very good) and how good/not good they are at their jobs. Kids continually get lost. Job performance is saved throughout the movie.
Overall, this is going to be a very short post for me, because the movie doesn’t really do anything new. It’s the definition of a standard rom-com with kids, all the way back to and from The Parent Trap, and thousands of others. It’s perfectly standard and enjoyable. It doesn’t do anything besides rely on its stars. Luckily…
Those stars are rather good. They make you believe in them, because the plot is certainly doing them no favors. It’s on their backs alone that we believe that these two characters can exist in a world and not die alone. That’s because Pfeifer is the typical (there’s that word again) 90s working woman –“ I will not be pushed around by men” (3/4 of the movie is her being pushed around by men). Clooney is typical “I’m more than just a beautiful man, I’m a father”. It’s all well and good, and it’s a great flick to pop in if you don’t really need to pay attention to anything.
Despite being average, the film is enjoyable. I’m going to give the film a “C+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"