Will Woody Allen's 'Café Society' receive same acclaim as 'Midnight in Paris'?

Woody Allen's newest film, 'Café Society,' stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Steve Carell. The film will be released on July 15.

Sabrina Lantos/Lionsgate/AP
'Café Society' stars Kristen Stewart (l.) and Jesse Eisenberg (r.).

Director Woody Allen’s newest film, “Café Society,” comes to theaters on July 15. Will it receive anything close to the acclaim of his 2011 movie “Midnight in Paris,” which is the best-reviewed of his recent work? 

“Café” stars Jesse Eisenberg as a young New Yorker who travels to Los Angeles to work for his agent uncle (Steve Carell) and falls in love with his uncle’s assistant (Kristen Stewart). The film co-stars Corey Stoll, Ken Stott, and Jeannie Berlin.

Mr. Allen famously releases about a film a year and recent efforts include the 2015 movie “Irrational Man,” the 2014 film “Magic in the Moonlight,” and 2013’s “Blue Jasmine,” whose star, Cate Blanchett, won a Best Actress Oscar for her work.

Allen’s best-known film is most likely the 1977 film “Annie Hall,” which stars him and Diane Keaton and which regularly makes appearances on lists of the best movies of all time. The movie won the Best Picture Oscar as well as Ms. Keaton winning Best Actress, Allen winning Best Director, and Allen and his co-writer Marshall Brickman winning best original screenplay. 

Recent films by the director like “Irrational Man” and “Magic in the Moonlight” were panned by critics. Allen’s most recent critical success was the 2011 movie “Midnight in Paris,” which stars Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard and centers on a man who discovers he can travel back in time to 1920s Paris. “Midnight” was nominated for the Best Picture prize at the Oscars. 

What made “Paris,” which also stars Rachel McAdams, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, and Alison Pill, succeed? 

During his time in the past, Owen Wilson’s character, Gil, encounters many luminaries of the time such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer writes that “after a while, the passing parade of geniuses becomes in itself a source of amusement … the set pieces where Gil hangs out with legends are often pointedly funny, and sometimes touching.” 

And A.O. Scott of the New York Times found Allen’s depiction of nostalgia interesting, writing that “the perception of a diminished world unable to satisfy a hungering sensibility… afflicts Gil. Mr. Allen’s treatment of this condition is gentle and wry.” 

Meanwhile, Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter praised the writing in the film.

“The film has the concision and snappy pace of Allen’s best work,” he wrote.

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