CAFÉ SOCIETY [2016] [Blu-ray + ULTRAVIOLET DIGITAL] [UK Release] Anyone Who Is Anyone . . . Will Be Seen at the CAFÉ SOCIETY! CAFÉ SOCIETY is Woody Allen's Amiable Tribute to the Golden-age of Hollywood! It Fizzes Like Vintage Woody Allen!

‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ is set in the 1930s and is Woody Allen’s bittersweet romance and follows Bronx-born Bobby Dorfman [Jesse Eisenberg] to Hollywood, where he falls in love, and then back to New York, where he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life. With ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY,’ Woody Allen conjures up a 1930’s world that has passed us by in telling a deeply romantic tale of dreams that never dies. Narrated by Woody Allen.

FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 2016 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards: Nominated: Best Costume Design for Suzy Benzinger. 2016 St. Louis Film Critics Association: Nominated: Best Cinematography for Vittorio Storaro.

FILM FACT No.2: On the 24th August, 2015, it was reported that Bruce Willis had exited the film due to his scheduling conflicts with the Broadway stage adaptation of the Stephen King novel “Misery.” On the 28th August, 2015, Steve Carell was cast to replace Bruce Willis. In March 2016, the title was confirmed as ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY.’ Principal photography on the film began on the 17th August, 2015, in and around Los Angeles. On the 8th September, 2015, filming moved to New York City, where it was shot in Brooklyn. Woody Allen moved to digital for the first time, using a Sony CineAlta F65 camera for this, his 47th film.

Cast: Steve Carell, Sheryl Lee, Todd Weeks, Paul Schackman, Jodi Carlisle, Richard Portnow, Jeannie Berlin, Ken Stott, Jesse Eisenberg, Sari Lennick, Stephen Kunken, Laurel Griggs, Corey Stoll, Saul Stein, Gabriel Millman, Craig Walker, Edward James Hyland, Anna Camp, Kristen Stewart, John Doumanian, Don Stark, Gregg Binkley, Anthony DiMaria, Parker Posey, Paul Schneider, Shae D'lyn, Steve Routman, William H. Burns, Tyler Reid, Lev Gorn, William Benvanides, Steve Rosen, Kaili Vernoff, Douglas McGrath, David Pittu, Taylor Carr, Rob Joseph Leonard, Lauren Susan, Courtney C. Clark, Maurice Sonnenberg, Elissa Piszel, Debra Lord Cooke, Paul Radki, Jayne Moore, Blake Lively, Brendan Burke, Raymond Franza, Michael Elian, Kat Edmonson, Rob Ashkenas, Pedro Chomnalez, Kaylyn Sanchez, Paul Hummel, Cecilia Riddett, Stephen DeRosa, Armen Garo, Sebastian Tillinger, Bettina Bilger, Tom Kemp, Tony Sirico, Nick Plakias, Max Adler (uncredited), Penelope Bailey (uncredited), Sean Bennett (uncredited), James Thomas Bligh (uncredited), Christine J. Carlson (uncredited), Liz Celeste (uncredited), Richard R. Corapi (uncredited), Lynne Alana Delaney (uncredited), Scott Eliasoph (uncredited), Tess Frazer (uncredited), Steve Garfanti (uncredited), Vince Giordano (uncredited), Jamie Marie Hannigan (uncredited), Rosemary Howard (uncredited), Karyna Kudzina (uncredited), James Levanas (uncredited), Fran Lieu (uncredited), Joe Mancini (uncredited), Tommy McInnis (uncredited), Bianca Mihailov (uncredited), Vinny Raniolo (uncredited), Kate Rappoport (uncredited), Eric Rizk (uncredited), Kelly Rohrbach (uncredited), Alexandra Santini (uncredited), Vin Scialla (uncredited), Nancy Ellen Shore (uncredited), Janet Stanwood (uncredited), Nadia Tumanova (uncredited), Lynne Valley (uncredited), Tom Waters (uncredited) and William Henderson White (uncredited)

Director: Woody Allen

Producers: Adam B. Stern, Edward Walson, Helen Robin, Letty Aronson, Marc I. Stern, Ronald L. Chez and Stephen Tenenbaum

Screenplay: Woody Allen

Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1

Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,
English: 5.1 Audio Descriptive Service
Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English SDH and Italian

Region: All Regions

Running Time: 96 minutes

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Warner Home Video

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: The film ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ [2016] is set in the 1930s, and is Woody Allen’s bittersweet romance that follows Bronx-born Bobby Dorfman [Jesse Eisenberg] to Hollywood, where he falls in love, and then back to New York, where he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life. It centres on events in the lives of Bobby Dorfman’s colourful Bronx family; the film is a glittering valentine to the movie stars, socialites, playboys, debutantes, politicians, and gangsters who epitomized the excitement and glamour of the age. Layered with a rich soundtrack of romantic tunes from the period, this is a familiar tale of love yearned for, gained, lost and savoured after the fact. In other words, it’s a format Woody Allen has relied upon many times before, but even past the age of 80.

‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ is trademark of director Woody Allen; celebrating the classic age of Hollywood in all its glory, backed by that all-familiar jazz score and complemented by a wonderfully romantic tale among the understated glitz and glamour. The film itself is simplistic, telling the story of unassuming Bobby Dorfman, the son of a jeweller in the Bronx who craves for the high life where his uncle Phil Stern is a big-hitting producer in Hollywood.

Bobby Dorfman’s family features his relentlessly bickering parents Rose Dorfman [Jeannie Berlin] and Marty Dorfman [Ken Stott], his casually amoral gangster brother Ben Dorfman [Corey Stoll]; his good-hearted teacher sister Evelyn Dorfman [Sari Lennick], and her egghead husband Leonard Dorfman [Stephen Kunken]. For the hooligan Ben Dorfman, there are no questions that can’t be answered with brute force, but the others are more likely to ponder deeper matters, like right and wrong, life and death, and the commercial viability of religion.

Seeking more out of life, Bobby Dorfman flees his father’s jewellery store for Hollywood and Tinseltown, where he works for his high-powered agent Uncle Phil Stern [Steve Carell]. Bobby Dorfman soon falls for Phil Stern’s charming assistant Veronica "Vonnie" Sybil, and Bobby Dorfman is swiftly whipped up into a frenzy of love for her. But as she’s involved with another man, he settles for friendship. They share a bond in being essentially fish out of water in terms of the glitz and glamour, but soon a blossoming love becomes much more complicated with a relationship revelation. Bobby Dorfman also befriends Rad Taylor [Parker Posey], a model agency owner, and her husband Steve Taylor [Paul  Schneider], a wealthy producer.

Heartbroken, Bobby Dorfman returns to New York, where he begins working for Ben, who has muscled his way into owning a nightclub. Bobby Dorfman displays natural talents as an impresario and swiftly promotes the club into the hottest in town, renaming it “Les Tropiques.” Rad introduces him to the beautiful socialite Veronica Hayes and Bobby Dorfman courts her assiduously. Although Bobby Dorfman is still carrying a torch for Veronica "Vonnie" Sybil, when Veronica Hayes reveals that she is pregnant, they marry and begin a genuinely happy life together. Everything seems to have fallen into place for Bobby Dorfman until the night Veronica "Vonnie" Sybil walks into “Les Tropiques,” gives the nightclub scenes alone something that really that energises the film ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY.’ Yet ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ is also one of the richest and most poignant of Woody Allen’s later films; that fans will relish it and enjoy the many echoes of the director’s earlier films.

Woody Allen is the auteur and ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ certainly shows plenty of glimpses at why such a director is heralded as one of the greatest of the generation. Woody Allen beautifully presents a world of beauty, magic and love, drenched in art deco and a stunning orange tinge that lights up the screen with each and every moment within Hollywood. It’s a sight to behold, along with the undeniable pairing of Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart.

While Jesse Eisenberg is essentially the lead, playing his part as Bobby Dorfman with simplistic ease, it is certainly Kristen Stewart who steals the show as she does Bobby Dorfman’s heart within the film. For years, Kristen Stewart has been unfairly underrated, having struck us with her prowess as films such as ‘Camp X-Ray’ and ‘Clouds of Sils Maria,’ and once again here she wows with her natural ability to captivate and charm. The pair have been seen previously working together in comedy ‘American Ultra,’ but this is a completely different beast and one that is much more relatable and charming.

Poignant, and often hilarious, ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY,’ is a film with a novel sweep, takes us on a journey from pastel-clad dealmakers in plush Hollywood mansions, to the quarrels and tribulations of a humble Bronx family, to the rough-and-tumble violence of New York gangsters, to the sparkling surfaces and secret scandals of Manhattan high life. With director Woody Allen conjures up a 1930s world that has passed to tell a deeply romantic tale of dreams that never die.

Where ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ slightly falters is when it removes itself from the Hollywood humdrum and attempts to build up Bobby Dorfman’s family roots in the Bronx. Admittedly, it provides plenty of opportunities for Woody Allen’s comedy to inch its way in, but it essentially it feels like a bit of a distraction from a love story that we’re actually drawn in by and the key component of this story.

Overall, ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ is everything you have come to expect from a Woody Allen picture; it’s charming, gorgeous to look at, and features superb central performances from the main characters in the film and it is a joyful treat for this festive period and one that will leave you with a warm feeling. It is perhaps fitting, then, that nearly every scene of the film is washed, via its brilliant cinematographer, the great Vittorio Storaro, makes Woody Allen’s 1930s Los Angeles look magical and especially in the lovely side-light of the golden hour and it is a choice, at once subtle and pervasive, that gives the film’s proceedings, whatever the time of day, whether characters are outside or in, the effect of a perpetual beautiful sunset. ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ is Woody Allen’s first digital film that is the only way the film fulfils its true potential and here’s looking to the future.


I DIN’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS (Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra]

HAVE YOU MET MISS JONES (Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks)]

ZING! WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART (Composed by James F. Hanley) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

PICK YOURSELF UP (Written by Dorothy Fields & Jerome Kern) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

TAXI WAR DANCE (Composed by Count Basie & Lester Young) [Performed by Count Basie and His Orchestra]

TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS (Composed by Johnny Mercer & Richard A. Whiting) [Performed by Eddy Duchin and His Orchestra]

MY MELANCHOLY BABY (Composed by Ernie Burnett & George Norton) [Performed by Benny Goodman Quartet]

THE LADY IS A TRAMP (Written by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU from ‘The Woman in Red’ (1935) (Composed by Al Dubin & Harry Warren) [Performed by Ben Selvin]

BLACK STOCKINGS (Composed by Ray Davies)

MY ROMANCE (Written by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME (Composed by Harold Adamson & Walter Donaldson) [Performed by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra with Helen Ward]

I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS (Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Conal Fowkes]

OUT OF NOWHERE (Composed by Johnny Green, Harry Harris & Edward Heyman) [Performed by Conal Fowkes, Brian Nalepka and John Gill]

YOU OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES (Composed by Edward Heyman & Dana Suesse) [Performed by Bert Ambrose and His Orchestra]

MORE THAN YOU KNOW (Composed by Vincent Youmans, Billy Rose & Edward Eliscu) [Performed by Benny Goodman Trio]

“THE PEANUT VENDOR” (“El Manisero”) (Composed by Moïse Simons) [Performed by YeraSon]  

UN BESO MAS (Composed by Francisco Rodriguez & Matt Hirt)

STREET SCENE (Sentimental Rhapsody) (Composed by Alfred Newman & Domenico Savino) [Performed by Harry James and His Orchestra]

YOU TURNED THE TABLES ON ME (Composed by Louis Alter & Sidney D. Mitchell) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

JUNE IN JANUARY (Composed by Leo Robin & Ralph Rainger) [Performed by Patrick Bartley, Marion Felder, Russell Hall and Chris Pattishall]

MC BOOGIE (Composed by Christopher Ashmore)  

MOUNTAIN GREENERY (Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Kat Edmonson & Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

THERE’S A SMALL HOTEL (Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

MANHATTEN (Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

THIS CAN’T BE LOVE (Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart) [Performed by Conal Fowkes]

DID I REMEMBER (Composed by Harold Adamson & Walter Donaldson) [Performed by Patrick Bartley, Marion Felder, Russell Hall and Chris Pattishall]

JEEPERS CREEPERS (Composed by Johnny Mercer & Harry Warren) [Performed by Kat Edmonson & Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

AULD LANG SYNE (Traditional) (Lyrics by Robert Burns) [Performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks]

* * * * *

Blu-ray Image Quality – Warner Home Video brings us this Blu-ray disc of ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ with an equally impressive and glorious 1080p Technicolor image, but also presented in a very unusual framed film in the 2.00:1 aspect ratio. While most of the time director Woody Allen has preferred a classical style for the look of his films, and has slowly evolved as evidenced by the look of this very stylish film of his. And for the first time Woody Allen has shot this film in the digital format and looks absolutely fantastic and is the word for this transfer as the sharpness is totally exceptional with so much sharp clarity and colours are totally luscious and especially often totally breath-taking. Skin tones take on a beautiful burnished aura in some of the lower lit Hollywood scenes, but overall the flesh tones are totally believable and very appealing, and colour values overall are rather scrumptious. Black levels are really excellent, and the contrast has been applied with great panache in making for a most consistent picture quality image and the bright vibrant colours of California come through wonderfully stunning, with a vibrant use of colour, flare, and pizzazz. This was cinematically at its best and showed off the 1930s period of a wonderful spectacular ambience, with a great use of costume and set to create the mood. Visually, ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ was everything you could ask for, and the Blu-ray supported all that hard work paying off handsomely.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Warner Home Video brings us this Blu-ray disc of ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix and only uses the rear channels for slight ambiance effects. A visit to Malibu places echoes of the waves in the rears, and some of the orchestral strains of Rodgers and Hart also find their way to the rears though the front channels are by far the stronger and more frequently used. This is a very chatty and dialogue oriented style of this film, with the emphasis of the ambient noises of the oceans, city life and especially the party scenes that rely much more heavily on crowds and sounds from all over and has been masterfully recorded and has been placed in the centre channel, giving the audio a high quality ambient sound that gets a great use of voice, music, and narration, especially from Woody Allen himself no less. The song selection was pretty spot on, with a good jazzy feel to it overall and very evocative of its time.

* * * * *

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: “On the Red Carpet” [2016] [1080p] [1.78:1] [2:12] Here we are at the ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ event and the glamorous red carpet footage at the New York Film Premiere, and this promotional video includes comments from actors like Blake Lively [Veronica Hayes], Kristen Stewart [Veronica  "Vonnie" Sybil] and Parker Posey [Rad Taylor], praising their  director’s smart and funny dialogue and especially directing the film in talking to the press and extol the creative virtues of director Woody Allen and fellow actor Jesse Eisenberg. The only negative aspect I did not like, is that the sound recording was atrocious and you could hardly hear what they were trying to say.

Special Feature: Photo Gallery: Here we get to view 34 stunning colour images from the ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ set and from the film itself. What you also view is the photos are in a yellow frame and centred in the centre of the screen. You have to click the right hand arrow on your remote control to advance the images.

Finally, the film ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ looks totally ravishing, with shots of New York which recall images in Woody Allen’s greatest work, the film ‘Manhattan,’ that has wonderfully composed images of the skyline. But with the film ‘CAFÉ SOCIETY’ director Woody Allen gives his homage to the golden age of Tinseltown, like his other homages to Paris and Rome. Woody Allen brings it all together in his closing moments which conjure something unexpectedly melancholy and shrewdly judged. It has entertainment and lots of wonderful charm. It is full of glamorous movie stars and studio executives in white suits and tuxedos, having poolside parties in Technicolor like twilight, at their sleek modernist and stucco homes. The sun shines incessantly as they gossip, backstab and drink their highballs. By contrast, New York is dark and dingy. The film is beautifully crafted and very well performed and I did not want it to end, that is how engrossing the film is. It also ends on a surprisingly moving note as the characters, and their director, ponder the roads not taken and speculate about what might have been. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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