INDIE FLICKS: CAFE SOCIETY
Woody Allen has directed a movie each year since 1982, a remarkable streak that, like Joe DiMaggio's, may never be equalled in modern times. Allen's contribution this year is Cafe Society (PG-13), which unfortunately feels crafted by an obligated artist, merely to keep his streak going.
Cafe Society is a lovely yet thematically colorless recycling of elements Allen has incorporated many times before: show biz puffery and disenchantment, mobsters, bicoastal neuroses, an older man dating a much younger woman, existential guilt, transient emotions. Hardly a scene passes without a swatch of this material reminding viewers when Allen did it better.
The casting suggests an 80-year-old filmmaker lunging for a younger audience, with Gen Y stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively looking as uncomfortable with Allen's squareness as he is with their cool.
Eisenberg plays Bobby Dorfman, escaping New York for Hollywood, where his uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell) is an agent, a serial name-dropper with deals always in the works yet we don't hear of many being closed. Phil hires Bobby as a go-fer, introducing to his secretary Vonnie (Stewart at her blandest), with whom he's having an affair. A love triangle develops unaware, then is complicated when Veronica (Lively) steps into the picture.
Realizing that isn't enough for a movie, Allen digresses to characters with short-leash appeal; Bobby's gangster brother (Corey Stoll), their sister and dryly intellectual brother-in-law, spasms of Golden Age Hollywood nostalgia. Cafe Society carries neither weight nor whimsy, burdened with too much narration — by Allen, sounding weary — explaining what the filmmaker can't be bothered to show.
Vittorio Storaro's cinematography is superb, casting gauzy glows and sensual silhouettes against impressively designed sets. Allen drops a few philo-cynical lines worthy of his reputation but not nearly enough. "Live every day like it's your last, and someday you'll be right" is a good one. Too bad Allen doesn't think the same goes for making movies. C-
OPENING TODAY: JASON BOURNE
Matt Damon is back and buff as Jason Bourne (PG-13), nine years after The Bourne Ultimatum ended the story, as far as author Robert Ludlum was concerned. That 2012 mistake with Jeremy Renner cribbed the title of a novel by Ludlum's replacement and not much else.
Damon is rejoined by director Paul Greengrass, and although the team misfired with Green Zone, Bourne's world vengeance tour brings out the best in both. Bonus points for adding a pair of Oscar winners to the cast: Tommy Lee Jones as CIA director Robert Dewey and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) as Heather Lee, one of his agents. We all know by now that anyone spying for the U.S. government can't be trusted, especially if they assure Bourne protection.
Jason Bourne was screened too late for Weekend.
A review will be published at tampabay.com/movies.
On a much less serious note, Bad Moms (R) joins the tradition of Santa, Grandpa, Teacher, Words and News Bears as movies understating their dirtyness with the adjective "bad."
This one stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and the criminally underrated Kathryn Hahn as wives and/or mothers needing to let off steam, with all the raunchy possibilities that entails. We sent our department's Good Mom, Sharon Kennedy Wynne, to a screening, just to see if she'd blush.
Read Sharon's thoughts on Bad Mom at tampabay.com/movies.
NOW IN THEATERS: NERVE
Looking for a movie that isn't Bourne again, or The Hangover in dresses? You've got your Nerve (PG-13).
Emma Roberts, right, stars as Vee, a high school senior playing an online community game akin to Truth or Dare, with escalating dangers. Participants choose to be Players or Watchers, who tell Players what to do. Winners are decided by who has the largest social media audience.
Don't get excited, Comic-Conners. There's no app for that.
Dave Franco co-stars as Ian, another Player whom Vee meets when she's assigned to kiss a stranger. Before long, they're on the run from a Watcher trying to get them killed. Nerve opened Wednesday in theaters, and is likely closing soon.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 Captain Fantastic: Unorthodox father (Viggo Mortensen) raises his children in the wild.
2 Absolutely Fabulous: The fashion world satire Zoolander wishes it could be.
3 The Secret Life of Pets: Toy Story with animals, and nearly as much magic.
4 The Infiltrator: Bryan Cranston and Tampa Bay co-star in a true crime drama.
5 Ghostbusters: Not as good or bad as anyone hoped, but fun nonetheless.
(Dates subject to change)
Aug. 5: Suicide Squad; Nine Lives
Aug. 12: Sausage Party; Pete's Dragon; Florence Foster Jenkins
Aug. 19: Ben-Hur; War Dogs; Collide; The Space Between Us; Kubo and the Two Strings; Hell and High Water
Aug. 26: Mechanic: Resurrection; Don't Breathe
Sept. 2: The Light Between Oceans; Morgan; Solace
Sept. 9: Sully; Before I Wake; When the Bough Breaks; The Wild Life