Jesse Eisenberg

FILM REVIEW: Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society”

The director's 45th feature film revisits familiar themes through a story set in glamorous 1930s Hollywood.

For his 45th movie, Woody Allen has once again retreated to the safety of yesteryear, a simpler time when a man could have a girlfriend 20 years his junior without anyone noticing. “Cafe Society,” set mostly in Hollywood in the late 1930s, is typical 21st-century Woody: pleasant, though not particularly funny; a bit melancholic, though not emotionally affecting; likable though not memorable. Woody Allen is now our most prolific producer of cinematic shrugs.

Allen serves as narrator this time, using Jesse Eisenberg as his onscreen avatar, at least at first. Eisenberg plays Bobby Dorfman, a Bronx kid who comes to L.A. hoping to get a job with his uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell), a self-important, high-powered Hollywood agent. Uncle Phil has his secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), show Bobby around town, and the two become friendly. But Vonnie says she has a boyfriend, a journalist who travels frequently, leaving Bobby to pine for her.



It’s been a rough few years for Wordstock by the sounds of it. There’s been trouble with management, trouble with venues and a history of financial woe that led to the Portland festival taking 2014 off. But if the 2015 festival, which took place in and around the Portland Art Museum last Saturday, was anything to go by, it looks like the dark times are over.

Part of the reason this year’s festival was so massively enjoyable was that unlike previous years, this time the event was packed into one very full day, with three main stages offering nine consecutive hours of high-quality literary chat. And consecutive they surely were. To be fair, the events were kept diligently on time, but if your next chosen event was on a different stage, that left only a couple of minutes to push through the crowds and duck between buildings to catch it from the start. It did give the day a real momentum, but combined with the art museum’s handful of restrooms it also meant that anyone determined not to miss a thing had to choose between punctuality and their bladder. But it’s a small complaint, and nothing a few Honey Buckets won’t remedy next year.

Editor’s Note: Angie Jabine was also on hand for Wordstock and caught an entirely different lineup of authors. Read her report here.

So who was there? Simon Winchester for a start, resplendent in a tan sports coat and jeans, talking to OPB’s Geoff Norcross about his new non-fiction book, Pacific. The Wall Street Journal hates it apparently, but Mr Winchester didn’t seem too put out.

“Now all I want is for Bill O’Reilly to hate it,” he said, and to judge by the giggles from the audience there’s no major overlap between the Fox crowd and the book crowd. Winchester, it seems, knows something about everything and spoke engagingly on plate tectonics, weather systems, the militarization of the Pacific, the origins of surfing, nuclear testing in the Bikini Islands, deep sea mining and more besides. And it was remarkably bright and breezy for a talk with such key points as the inevitable decline of the United States and the possibility of total human extinction in the next 500 years.


Kelly Reichardt, Oregon Will Miss You

With the release of her latest film, Night Moves, the director talks moving on to a different cinematic landscape

Old Joy was the first Kelly Reichardt film I saw. It made me want to move to Oregon.

Four years ago I finally made the journey west to become an official Portlander, and high on my list of things to do when I arrived: hike to Bagby Hot Springs, where most of Old Joy’s final act takes place. Reichardt’s subtle directorial hand, the minor-key drama and lived-in, naturalistic performances by Will Oldham and Daniel London were enough to enjoy the film, but what about those gorgeous wood tubs where they soaked in the forest? I needed to go there, to experience what looked to my Midwestern eyes as a slice of paradise.

While Bagby and Oregon’s countless other natural wonders continue to thrill me, Reichardt’s had enough. Cinematically, at least. Her last four features—Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff and her latest, Night Moves, opening Friday—have all been set here. But her next project will not take place in Oregon.

“I think I gotta push myself a little bit to get out of there,” she said during our phone interview. “Everyone knows about [Oregon] now and now it’s really fuckin’ expensive. It’s outside my range to even be able to visit there now.”

She was coy about divulging any information on her next film, let alone where it will be set, insisting it’s “in the cooker,” but nothing to talk about yet.