Cafe Society

Woody Allen Cafe Society

I’ve never understood—and never will—what anybody saw in Midnight in Paris, except maybe a vision of Allen as a dealer in contrivance and platitudes instead of the serious filmmaker he can sometimes be. It was a not very convincing concatenation of gestures he’d delivered with far more depth and flair in earlier films—The Purple Rose of Cairo in particular.


Meanwhile, Café Society was greeted with a general ho-hum—which is scandalous, given that it’s a far, far better film. No, it’s not perfect—but why would anybody want a Woody Allen film to be perfect? What it is—and what it has in common with Blue Jasmine—is that it’s both astute and felt. And when was the last time you saw a film like that?


It’s a literary film—a dirty word in Hollywood, worthy of death—which is to say it has the pacing and careful observations of a novella. I can understand why that wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but it ought to be worthy of everyone’s consideration.


The digital cinematography is jarring at first, and never quite feels true, feeling too sharp and sterile. But the material and performances are better than the way they’re captured, and add up to something superior, by leagues, to the too contrived, relentlessly smartass confections that currently pass for serious film.


Anybody who passes on Café Society is missing the chance to experience a film that, for all its flaws, gets far more right than it ever gets wrong—which makes it something of a miracle in a contemporary cinema that, lost in its own sound and fury, almost always comes up short.

Michael Gaughn

Michael Gaughn—The Absolute Sound, The Perfect Vision, Wideband, Stereo Review,
Sound & Vision, marketing, product design, a couple TV shows, some commercials, and
now this.


1 Comment
  • John Bishop

    I share your appreciation for this movie, it is beautifully shot by Vittorio Storaro who is the creator of a new cinema presentation format he calls Univisium, and Café Society is an example. It just so happens, that I set up 6 unique aspect ratios for the RAYVA headquarters theater in White Plains one of which is ‘Univisium”. There is a Univisium body of work available in beautiful 2K blu ray; movies and videos including Jurasic World, and the Carlos Santana concert live from Mexico. Though the Santana concert is recent, it was the first in his homeland since his rise to fame. It’s an emotional, thrilling and beautifully shot film. The other aspect (no pun intended) I’d add to Cafe Society’s importance for home cinema enthusiasts is the cinematography itself. The format is interesting as it’s larger than Academy flat 1.85:1, but not the horizon of scope 2.40:1. I would guess Allen chose it to add a little grandeur to his normal narrative style. But the cinematography scene by scene is stunning. Interior shots are subtle and detailed, like most of Allen’s movies, but the outdoor scenes by the pools are a great testament that HDR is evident in great films shot by great DPs who no how to handle light, and with no gimmickry, Don’t try entering vivid mode or pseudo HDR on this movie, it kills the artistry and blows up in bright scenes.
    Of course RAYVA designs addresses the art of the movies and the science at the same time. Presenting content in precisely the framing designed by the director and DP is just what the doctor ordered. You can see it at its best when AR control is fast, accurate, and fully masked, like in Theo’s private theater at home. I set his projector up for 2.0:1 as well, and showed him Café Society to illustrate. It is electronically framed by his Barco Orion 3K native scope projector and his side masking screen. When you can do that for all the AR’s in your library, you truly see what the director intended, like only the fortunate can. Our mutual objective after all is to add more folks to the list of the few who enjoy genuine cinema experiences at home. There is nothing like it!.

    September 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm