Opening Night Gala | 2016 | 96 minutes
Stranger Says:People like to talk a lot of behind-the-back smack about SIFF’s tendency toward mainstream fare, but in this city, at this precise moment, it’s hard to think of a more transgressive, divisive film—or filmmaker—with which to open the festival than this one. (Also, it’s worth remembering that one out of every five or six Allen films winds up being stunningly good.) (SEAN NELSON)
SIFF Says:After directing several contemporary dramas, comedies, and period pieces in Europe during recent years, legendary filmmaker Woody Allen has returned to his roots with Café Society, set in the 1930s and 1940s and shot on location in New York City and Los Angeles. James (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network) is part of a large Jewish family from the Bronx who dreams of making it big in Hollywood. After moving to a sun-drenched Los Angeles, he soon becomes intoxicated by the circle of artists, intellectuals, and power brokers known at the time as “café society.” Along the way, James meets and falls in love with Theresa (Kristen Stewart, Twilight), but the couple eventually drifts apart during his rise to success. Years later, he returns to New York to become the owner of a swanky Manhattan nightclub and, discovering that Theresa is now married, begins to yearn for the old days and his lost love. Despite the familiar territory of a sophisticated urban romance, Café Society, Allen’s 47th feature, is notable as the director’s first-time collaboration with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, known for epics such as Apocalypse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor. This also marks Allen’s first foray into digital filmmaking, using a Sony CineAlta F65 camera. With a star-studded cast that includes Steve Carell, Parker Posey, Blake Lively, and Judy Davis, the film is sure to be a crowd-pleaser and a bittersweet homage to Hollywood’s Golden Age.
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