Latter-day Woody Allen films have a tendency to use narration as a crutch to make their themes obvious and their plots overly clear. But somehow the voiceover of Café Society (courtesy of Allen himself) won me over. As the story moves away from the glitz of 1930s Hollywood towards the gangster-run business of New York, the compressed approach that results from the heavy narration allows the deadly violence to work as comedy. Indeed, Café Society works best when it focuses on Woody’s specialty of nihilist existentialism. (A conversation about fear of death, or lack thereof, is a highlight.) And with Jesse Eisenberg managing the best Woody Allen impression of any Woody avatar, the connections to the classics are enough to get by.

I give Café Society a B- in Jewish Philosophy 201.