Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cafe au Yay and Fostering Play: Old New York and New New Jersey

 Blossom Rainbow Rampage Necklace

Top: Delia's
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: Not Rated, Journeys
Bag: Fred Flare
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Michaels

Top: So, Kohl's
Jeans: Candie's, Kohl's
Shoes: Bamboo, DSW
Bag: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's

Top: So, Kohl's
Jeans: Mudd, Kohl's
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Etsy, Uniquely Different
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's

Dress: Rampage, Amazon
Shoes: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Bag: B&B
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: The Tote Trove

It's no secret that I adore the ornate.  If it's (jewel) encrusted, embroidered, or embellished, then I'm plotting a way to make it myself or at least make it my own.  That said, when I see an old-school movie, one of my favorite things to do is check out the costumes.  It's such fun to slip into a time when people really dressed.  Gowns!  Jewels!  Hats!  Nothing was ever too fancy, and no heroine ever worried that she looked like she was trying too hard.  So, when I saw Cafe Society and Florence Foster Jenkins, I wasn't disappointed (well, not in the clothes, but more on that later).

First, Cafe Society.  It's a typical Woody Allen flick about a misunderstood, wet-behind-the-ears New Yorker yearing to make his mark.  This time the young man in question is Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg), and the time is the late 1930s.  Bobby leaves his parents' cramped Bronx apartment for Los Angeles to ask his bigwig agent Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) for a big break in the movies.  Uncle Phil is an unlikable sort, a far cry from the teddy bear in grizzly clothing version we all know and love from "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."  But ambition seldom comes without romance, and through the course of the movie, Bobby finds himself involved with two women, Vonnie #1 and Vonnie #2.  Sure, I could go with Vonnie and Veronica, as Bobby does for most of the film, but this way is funnier, plus has the added benefit of symbolism.  Vonnie #1 (Kristen Stewart) is Uncle Phil's secretary, a wise-beyond-her-twenty-five-years goddess who's not what she seems.  On the wardrobe front, she favors chic yet girlish skirts and blouses in creamy neutrals topped off by the occasional frilly headband.  By contrast, Bobby is awkward and sweet, and as Vonnie #1 herself says, naive.  (Also, he wears a lot of high-waisted pants.)  After spending what seems like forever in the friend zone, Bobby finally wins Vonnie #1's heart.  The two enjoy a California sunshine-drenched idyll in which they frolic on the beach, a spectacle that manages to be more moving than cheesy.  For Eisenberg and Stewart, it's Adventureland all over again (minus the carnies), as they morph into every nerd boy-cool girl pairing you've ever seen, only better -- and more ironic.  Some people don't like Stewart, but I think she has a kind of soulful depth that matches Eisenberg's earnestness.  (As a side note, Cafe has a six degrees of separation thing going on, what with Blake Lively as Vonnie #2 and husband Ryan Reynolds as Adventureland's villain).  But this is Woody Allen's world, which means that heartbreak is on the horizon.  A difference of opinion tears the young couple apart, sending Bobby packing for Gotham.  There he sheds his Hollywood dreams to manage his shady older brother's (Corey Stoll) nightclub.  It's a role that molds his naivete into near cockiness, a persona that fits the endearingly diffident Eisenberg about as well as Bobby's too-slick suit.  Nevertheless, this is where Cafe's style unfurls in full flower.  Enchanted ensembles float across the dance floor in decadent splendor, more modish and mysterious than those on display in LA.  In keeping with his new playboy image, Bobby tries to bed Vonnie #2 during their first meeting, his shy, romantic younger self long since snuffed out by disappointment and living.  Glamorous and sophisticated, Vonnie #2 is a winsome divorcee who's been hurt.  But even her charms are no match for the chemistry between Bobby and Vonnie #1, which is a pure thing in a sea of pretense.  Their relationship reminds me of Tom and Summer's in 500 Days of Summer.  Timid office drone Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls for charismatic, nonconformist secretary Summer (Zooey Deschanel) who turns out to be - spoiler alert - a conformist after all.  When Summer tells Tom she's done, she means it, and Tom ends up meeting a girl who makes him truly happy, whereas Bobby . . .  Well, never mind.  (Hey, sometimes I can keep a secret.) Suffice it to say that Cafe Society is melancholy, introspective, and spiked with Allen's signature wit, a cocktail as bittersweet and sparkling as the elixirs mixed behind its bar.

As for Florence Foster Jenkins, I just don't know.  It's the 1940s biopic of Jenkins (Meryl Streep), a New York patron of the arts who desperately wants to sing but is terrible at it.  To add to Florence's misfortune, she contracted syphilis decades ago on her wedding night (a condition that forces her to wear a hideous, if era-appropriate, wig) and so is in a second marriage (of convenience) with actor St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), a not unkind guy who juggles a girlfriend and the full-time job of shielding Florence from the painful truth about her pipes.  Yet talented but greener-than-clover accompanist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) finds it more difficult to keep up the subterfuge, revealing his frustration in a series of hilarious facial expressions each time his benefactress unleashes her banshee wail.  As Florence continued to screech her way through a whole hope chest's worth of mother-of-the-bride-like beaded outfits, I couldn't help but hope that something would break for her (and I don't mean glass).  When she's at the height of her humiliation, giving an earsplitting recital at Carnegie Hall for a horde of rowdy servicemen, I thought that maybe she would shift to a comic-on-purpose performance, dramatizing her already bird-like outfit and strangled-crow's voice until she sprouted literal and metaphorical wings in a rom-com-style extravaganza of unlikely and uplifting triumph.  But this is no rom com, and that never happens.  Instead (and you may want to avert your eyes if you still plan to see this) she finds the one newspaper that St. Clair hasn't destroyed, reads a scathing review, and . . . dies.  Hmm.  So much for sticks and stones.

But upward and onward.                 

High points:

A bathtub full of potato salad (who says you can't picnic where you pee?).

The aforementioned comedic stylings of Simon Helberg, who turns out to be a nerd for all seasons.

The reminder that Ms. Streep can play any role, no matter how ridiculous, flawlessly.

That brings us to the end of this post's New York portion.  So long, Empire State, hello Garden (State).  (Not adding that second "State," I feel, would have been disrespectful to Zach Braff.)  No story here, I'm afraid, just the blue skies of Brigantine and the mirage-like (marsh-like?) skyline of  Atlantic City.  Bet there are more than a few suspect songstresses belting it out beneath those chandeliers.

That, and a buffet's-worth of potato salad.

1 comment:

Jewel Divas Style said...

Awesome chunky necklaces!