Review: Sitting in Bars with Cake (2023)

I do not understand the concept of bringing cakes to bars … maybe because I don’t like cake, and if I were out with friends and some random woman came up to our table (although she might not do so, if there were no “boys” with us) offering cake, and insisting on looping us into … whatever it is she was doing … I might be annoyed. So. I don’t like cake and I don’t like to be pressured into eating cake – which I was, at every birthday party I went to as a child. “YOU DON’T LIKE CAKE??” people would say to me, even the mothers of the birthday girl/boy. I am over-thinking. Audrey Shulman wanted a boyfriend and decided to bake cakes and bring them to bars to meet men. I’m Gen-X, lol, so aside from our cliched ironic distance (I don’t remember much “ironic distance” going on in my 90s social scenes, sorry) – we had to socialize pre-internet, we had to just go out there and talk to people, and flirt, and give out our phone numbers, etc. We were forced to if we wanted anything to happen! So … I think we would have side-eyed any woman sashaying into a bar, brandishing a cake, and trying to get male attention that way. Different strokes for different folks. If you want a mate, you do your THING, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else! Shulman started her whole cake thing in 2013, then wrote a book about it and now it’s been made into a movie. There’s more going on in the film than just cake – thankfully – it’s really about the friendship between the two women, and it’s quite moving. The cake part is the weakest link. I reviewed for Ebert.

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3 Responses to Review: Sitting in Bars with Cake (2023)

  1. I kinda love your crankiness here, b/c 1) I don’t like cake, either (I’m a pie guy); 2) I don’t remember the 1990s as full of “ironic distance,” except on TV shows that we’re supposed to represent me; and in fact don’t really identify with being a part of Generation X (even though I guess I am); and 3) I really appreciated the comparison to SOMETHING NEW, a movie & star that both deserve more love.

    • sheila says:

      Something New!! I sing its praises whenever I can – I wrote about Sanaa’s performance in my piece on loneliness (I think?) – in Film Comment – and elsewhere. It’s so good, I wish it was more well-known! A rom-com with real TEETH, it’s really ABOUT something, and everyone is just so good!!

      Kenya is just so strongly set up from the very first scene in Something New – it’s Valentine’s Day, she’s lonely, her father calls – this isn’t temporary loneliness, it’s something existential. and that’s missing in this movie. Maybe “wanting a man” is … seen as passe now? The film really shies away from it – like it would be “beneath” Jane to … want a boyfriend? It’s weird. The whole point of bringing cakes to bars (even though I don’t get it) was to widen her field of possibilities, to meet more men. I feel like the film is very ambivalent about … its whole reason for being, lol.

    • sheila says:

      and I always love hearing from you, Walter. We cake-haters have to stick together. Thanks for reading!

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