Café Society

Café Society ★½

"Socrates said..."

No. Don't. Don't do it, Woody.

"...the unexamined life..."

NO! DON'T! PUT THE PEN DOWN AND STEP AWAY FROM THE YELLOW PAD, WOODY!

"...is not worth living..."

ARGHHHHHH!

And scene.

That dramatization more or less a microcosm of my excruciating experience watching Allen's latest, another amorphous amalgam of all his usual preoccupations and hang-ups. (And no, that line's tag, "But the examined one is no bargain," hardly justifies it.) Great actors and actresses are always taking scale and rearranging their schedules to work with him and I'm now officially clueless as to why – beyond being able to say they've been in "a Woody Allen film," which surely doesn't hold the cache it once did anyway. Kristen Stewart is not the only talented performer in the cast, but she is the only one able to transcend the tedium of the material. (Actually, Corey Stoll does manage to always be a compelling presence.) Otherwise, I'm struggling to think of another instance where I was more keenly and constantly aware of an entire ensemble playing pretend – saying lines they didn't believe in scenarios and circumstances that I didn't.

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