August 15, 2008

The new Woody Allen movie: "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

I walked over to Sundance to catch the 2 PM showing of the new Woody Allen movie, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." I'm a longtime Woody Allen fan, and this one got excellent reviews, so that was enough to get me out to see it on the first day.

There was a ton of typical Woody Allen stuff in this movie:

1. It's set in a European city that Woody apparently decided he wanted to hang around in. (The city is Barcelona.)

2. It depicts Woody Allen's sexual fantasies. A man can sidle up to the table of 2 beautiful women in a restaurant, ask them to fly away with him — in 1 hour! — in his private plane to a picturesque little village and have sex with him there, and the 2 women will go with him.

3. Everyone is inexplicably rich, ensconced in beautifully decorated mansions, but all the good people are anti-materialistic and unimpressed with their surroundings.

4. Young women glow spiritually and sexually in the presence of an artist or when they listen to the kind of music that Woody himself likes. In this case, Spanish guitar music.

5. Each woman is neurotic/crazy in her own special way, but they are easily categorized as the repressed type or the freely expressive type, and Woody really seems to love them all.

6. The men are either businessmen — and it's clear Woody doesn't like them — or artists — and you know Woody identifies with them.

7. Philosophical themes. A voice-over instructs us that the 2 main characters represent order and chaos. Someone lashes out at someone for wielding the categorical imperative.

That said, the movie isn't a Woody Allen cliché. It's continually delightful and surprising, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I got chills when characters kissed. I laughed out loud. And I loved, loved, loved Penelope Cruz. I was enjoying the movie immensely, and since I hadn't read the reviews, I didn't know that the character — Maria Elena — that they kept talking about would turn up and be Penelope Cruz. All the other actors seemed pretty good, and then she showed up and invented a new kind of intensity. Wow. Penelope Cruz.



It's enough to make me want to take up smoking. So exciting. And — spoiler alert — she kisses Scarlett Johansson.

No, that's not the kiss that gave me chills. Javier Bardem is in the movie too, bringing the testosterone to the table.

ADDED: Now that I've seen the movie, I'm reading articles about it. I found this hilariously bad sentence in the L.A. Times:
Of all the major American artists, Allen has experienced one of the cruelest and most violent whipsaws of fortune, of tumbling from audience adulation to mass approbation.
Wow, quite a tumble!

73 comments:

vbspurs said...

Ann gushed:

And — spoiler alert — she kisses Scarlett Johansson.

As long as she didn't do it during the Olympics, it's okay.

Woody has surprised most people with this European shift of his, instead of continuing his love affair with Manhattan.

I found "Match Point" a little trite, with a kind of Crime & Punishment subplot around a British class-drama. But it was still fascinating enough to watch.

His adaptation of Waugh's "Scoop" was abysmal. It's almost as he's the most conscious person around himself of his own Jewishness; he is discomfitted by it, but yet adores tweaking others because of it (IOW, same old Woody). Works in the US, but in European locales it looks schticky.

Fortunately, he's not in this "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" film. Most people heard about the kiss which presumably will titilate the audience, but is almost an afterthought in the script.

I'll watch it either tomorrow or Sunday.

(Incidentally, it's long been rumoured that Cruz is gay. Hi Beth!)

Cheers,
Victoria

glenntkenny said...

Allen's made his last four films in Europenot because his muse has been pointing him there, but because it's been the only place where he could get financing. "Vicky Cristina" was in fact pretty much subsidized by the city of Barcelona.

You could look it up. But that would be, like, work.

He's back in New York now, shooting with Evan Rachel Wood and Larry David.

Oh, and "Scoop" wasn't a Waugh adaptation. Dreadful, yes. But nothing to do with Waugh. Again. You could look it up.

Mrs. Ethel Chintzi said...

$6.25 plus a $1.00 "amenities fee"...for something that'll be out on video/dvd in the next month.

"Real butter on our popcorn."

Well, that's something, at least. I can only imagine how much that costed.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, Glenn, I just put in a fair amount of work insulting you in that other post. Please look it up.

Meade said...

"Incidentally, it's long been rumoured that Cruz is gay."

If only I had a nickel for every time someone has come up to me on the street and mistaken me for a lesbian Javier Barden...

vbspurs said...

Glenn, me look it up. Thanks! And may I just say this:

Why do all the Maxine sockpuppets sound too tiresomely like Maxine?

I mean, shake it up a little, you know. Pretend you're, oh I don't know, Ukrainian or something.

William said...

When movie stars pursue nookie, it adds zest and significance to their lives and looks exciting. When politicians fool around, it debases the whole concept of nookie and looks depressing. Maybe it's something like gymnastics--a sport that should only be attempted by the young and the supple.

Trooper York said...

I thought Woody Allen moved to Europe because that’s where all the child molester movie directors move to after they get caught?

Tom said...

I saw this today and it was pretty good- one of Woody Allen's best.

Only thing I would change is the annoying voice over- let us figure things out, don't tell us everything.

chickenlittle said...

smokin' hot!

Middle Class Guy said...

Trooper York said...
I thought Woody Allen moved to Europe because that’s where all the child molester movie directors move to after they get caught?

Troop, ya beat me to it.

Middle Class Guy said...

Meade said...
If only I had a nickel for every time someone has come up to me on the street and mistaken me for a lesbian Javier Barden...


Here we go. That would not happen if you did not walk down the street eating fish tacos.

James Woolsley agrees with me on this.

Trooper York said...

Plus I don’t think Woody Allen moved back to NewYork. Megan's Law is still on the books and they would announced it in the newspapers or something.

ricpic said...

I sure hope the voice over isn't spoken by Allen in that fake nebbish cadence he affects. A sharper and tougher operator there never was.

Middle Class Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

If you liked Penelope Cruz so much, you should see Volver. It's a great movie and she's great in it. And it's a Pedro Almodovar movie.

blake said...

Allen movies are disturbing.

Doesn't matter whether they're the early comedies or the Manhattan-based dramas or this latest more generic seeming stuff. They all disturb.

They disturb in the way Glen and Glenda disturbs, though obviously with a lot more technical skill.

We're living in a man's neuroses for two hours. He's proficient enough to costume them, somewhat, but they get under your skin.

I've been told people are more likely to have nightmares after seeing one of his movies than they are after seeing a horror movie. I don't know if that's true but it wouldn't surprise me.

But, hey, that's just my opinion (and it well predates the whole Soon Yi thing). You go ahead and enjoy the guy.

David Appell said...

Penelope Cruz looks great -- except for having an idiotic piece of tobacco hanging out of her mouth. Who is the supposed to impress? Who would want to be close to her, reeking of nicotine and smoke, essentially a walking ashtray?

I don't care how pretty she is. A smoker is still a skank.

blake said...

Raise your hands if you'd kick Penelope Cruz out of bed on a cold night because she's a smoker.

Anyone?

Anyone?

Mr. Appell,

You may have misjudged her appeal.

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

I saw and it loved it. P Cruz is amazing. Incredibly beautiful.

Also, loved her in Volver and All About My Mother.

Almodovar is my favorite director.
Love the music in Almodovar's movies. I have all the soundtracks.

Olympics is great tonight.

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

And I also love, love, love Woody Allen.

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

FYI-I am pretty sure he still lives in NYC. He is over in Europe filming because he is able to get his pictures financed easier.

vbspurs said...

We're living in a man's neuroses for two hours. He's proficient enough to costume them, somewhat, but they get under your skin.

I totally agree, Blake, and I say this as a Woody Allen fan -- tho' early Woody, mostly.

However, how is this different from being in Bergman's neuroses for 2 hours? I find his Lutheran paddling world of lustless frustration almost as disturbing as Allen's Judaica manias.

I could mention other auteurs like Roman Polansky (who shares the paedophilic angle), Truffaut, Visconti, but most especially my countryman, Alfred Hitchcock.

Entering the Hitchcockian world of rejection, dejection, and complete loss of control of your fate is torturous. HIS films give me the willies. (I love them)

Allen at his most tiresome is on par with a root canal inside a morgue.

But when he's on, his outsider-looking-in ambitions make that rarest of filmmakers -- utterly sincere.

Just my 2p. :)

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

Kolbe Bryant is hot. I would love to do him.

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

China love Kolbe

vbspurs said...

I used to like Colby Bryant too, because I thought it was hot that an NBA player could speak perfect Italian.

But he disappointed me. Anyway, I prefer Shack.

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

The Kenyan swimmer was white. I guess, me being igorant, I thought he would be black.

What is the % of white population in Kenya? Anyone?

vbspurs said...

30,000 white Kenyans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_African

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

Was Kolbe found guilty in Colorado?

I can't remember?

TitusSheWorksHardForthemoney said...

Uh Oh, major drama and controversy in the Olympics.

vbspurs said...

No, I believe the white chick lied and had slept around that night with 2 or 3 guys. She had also levelled rape accusations previously.

It's all about credibility and she wasn't credible.

vbspurs said...

Titus, what do you think of Cesar Cielo Filho? Hot?

BTW, here's a cultural note for you.

He must be part of the minority of Spaniard-descendants in Brazil.

Cielo is the Spanish not Portuguese for "sky". (Port = Ceu)

Filho is the Portuguese-only phrase for Junior. It means "Son".

If he named HIS son Cesar, the kid would be Cesar Cielo Neto (literally, grandson).

blake said...

Hitchcock used certain personal experiences as the engine to power his movies, no doubt. And certainly Allen does this as well.

I think, however, there's a difference between using experiences and being used by them.

I was thinking about Tim Burton as I was writing this. When he screws up one of his movies with his personal issues (Batman Returns, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), it just makes that aspect of the movie lame.

It really helps if you've seen Glen or Glenda. But obviously it's a subjective experience.

vbspurs said...

I saw and loved "Glen or Glenda"! Well, perhaps "creepily attracted to" would be more apposite. :)

blake said...

Oh, it's a fascinating film. And it's soooo out there--I mean, all of Ed's insanity--it's an oddly intimate film at well.

blake said...

If I see an African country in a swimming race, I assume the contender is going to be white.

So far, from what I've seen, that's held true.

Not so of boxing.

vbspurs said...

Because Blake, there are so few sports which are as lilly-white as anything tied to water -- swimming, sailing, etc.

As you say, not so boxing.

(I like intimate films, BTW)

blake said...

I do, too, Victoria.

vbspurs said...

If you haven't already, check out this Israeli film, Blake.

Or

An one-way ride into intimacy.

blake said...

Will do.

If I find it disturbing, though, I'm going to post loud comments on your blog in the middle of the night.

vbspurs said...

It'll be good practise for me, when I become the mother of an auteur. ;)

BTW, awesome sportsmanship by 41-yo Dara Torres (Floridian!) just now.

Foreigners always delight in speaking how ill-mannered were the American Ryder Cup golfers on this or that occasion. Take that, Euro-snobs!

vbspurs said...

I'm happy track-and-field has finally arrived.

Most of you who are Americans know the Olympics from the strengths of your athletes. That means swimming, volleyball, basketball, etc.

As a Brit, the Olympics only truly start for us during track-and-field (and rowing).

Middle Class Guy said...

David Appell said...
Who would want to be close to her, reeking of nicotine and smoke, essentially a walking ashtray?



Me!

blake said...

Rowing, I'll give you.

But a lot of the US T&F team come from right over here at UCLA.

Eli Blake said...

What I like about swimming (though not diving) is that it is purely a matter of time. The fastest swimmer wins. Occasionally judges intervene by disqualifying a swimmer but usually that is for a clear foul.

I like far less watching sports that depend on judges who are subject to human error, interpretation and bias (and who as we tragically saw during the 2002 pairs figure skating competition, may not even be above the most basic breaches of faith, such as to negotiate the results beforehand).

Given this situation, I prefer watching swimming, track and field and some other events like shooting where the score is determined strictly by the athletes and not by either partial or impartial judges.

There are also some 'in-between' sports in which judges or referees are part of the game and can influence the outcome, but the athletes themselves can decide it in a way that doesn't involve judges (boxing and most team sports fall into this category.)

Now, as to the German women... o"

Not exactly the Olympic "gold" standard, let's leave it at that.

Middle Class Guy said...

O Christ, the Olympics!!!!

What does any of that have to do with boinking the very hot, smoking Penelope Cruz. Man, you people are something.

Simon said...

blake said...
"Raise your hands if you'd kick Penelope Cruz out of bed on a cold night because she's a smoker."

You show me someone with their hand up from that and - possibly excepting Victoria's dad - I'll show you a liar.

blake said...

Victoria has more sense than that.

Palladian said...

My hand's up, Simon, and I'm not a liar. In fact, if I found Penelope Cruz in my bed on a cold night, I'd call the police.

vbspurs said...

Victoria has more sense than that.

Heh. Blake, it's not because as I said earlier that my dad is very serious in his wedding vows.

Is that I revealed in other thread that my father is DEATHLY against smoking.

So yes, he'd kick Penelope out of the bed because she was a smoker.

And also because he prefers blondes...

;)

Chip Ahoy said...

It's a candy cigarette. Designed compositionally to direct attention to her norks which are emphasized with a thin cotton dress and defined by leather straps. It's all very subtle and suggestive avoiding obvious plunging neckline ond overt nork exposure.

Chip Ahoy said...

Olympics starter pistol.

vbspurs said...

Gack. Swatch. How 80s.

Chip Ahoy said...

My favorite watch is a Time magazine promotion. It says on the face, "Time."

Chip Ahoy said...

I'm writing a new book. Its title will be How to Kill a Conversation In One Easy Step.

vbspurs said...

It was great! I love watches. But sleep is kicking in, capiche? ;)

Night again, Chip!

michael farris said...

Does Cruz get to speak Spanish throughout?

She's a marvelous and inventive screen actress in Spanish.
But, so far, watching her try to emote in English has been an agonizing experience.

Middle Class Guy said...

Palladian said...
My hand's up, Simon, and I'm not a liar. In fact, if I found Penelope Cruz in my bed on a cold night, I'd call the police.



How about if you found Tom Cruise?

reader_iam said...

Skank: One who is disgustingly foul or filthy and often considered sexually promiscuous. Used especially of a woman or girl.

David Appell's description of Penelope Cruz.

Idiot.

reader_iam said...

I'm a fan of the majority (though not all) of Allen's films, and I'm looking forward to seeing this one.

knox said...

I thought Woody Allen moved to Europe because that’s where all the child molester movie directors move to after they get caught?

Trooper, thank you.

Years ago, I read and found Mia's autobio very credible. She claims Woody messed around with one of the toddlers as well as Soon Yi. He in fact willingly admitted he had a problem with "inappropriate" behavior toward the child, and was (of course) in therapy for it even while he was having an affair with Soon Yi. He's a real gem.

reader_iam said...

By the way, I really enjoy David Appell's blog (Quark) and have been reading it in feed for quite a while now. I recommend it.

And despite his absurdly over-reactive and weirdly extrapolative response in this thread, I'll continue to read and recommend his blog. I'll just keep in mind that he can be a bit of a silly, too. (I mean, c'mon--go ahead and dislike cigarettes. But skank? Jeez.)

reader_iam said...

Mia Farrow is one weird person. I find her credibility to be lacking. And her autobiography, along with various appearances and interviews, creeped me out.

Which isn't to say Woody is, or isn't, a tool. It is to say that Mia's one messed up broad, and there's plenty of s*** to go around.

I still like his films.

knox said...

Mia Farrow is one weird person. I find her credibility to be lacking. And her autobiography, along with various appearances and interviews, creeped me out.

I agree, and she's complicit to a large degree because she continued to give him access to the kids... asked him to adopt some of them with her, in fact. But in her autobiography she was pretty forthcoming re ugly truths about herself. Guess that's why I found her credible. Weird? sure. Creepy? absolutely. But the stuff about Woody rang very true, and the court transcripts at the end sealed the deal.

Trooper York said...

Beside the fact that I don't like to give my money to child molesters, I always thought Woody Allen was an over praised talentless hack who movie reviewers pimped because he was a wimpy douche bag just like them. All he ever does is basically repeat himself, over and over. Wimpy bespectacled old nerd guy with no money or talent or looks gets hot young chicks for reasons he never adequately explains. Over and over again. Wish fulfillment for nerdy film reviewers who can watch and Ernie Borgnine themselves as they dream about how they could get revenge over the guys that gave them wedgies at PS 29 by showing up with the a hot chick like Scarlet Johansen at the class reunion. Don’t get me wrong, if they have the cheese they can get the hot babes no matter how old or ugly they might be (see Trump, Donald). But this crapola is just baloney pure and simple. Boring baloney at that. Over intellectualized bullshit for the elitists to wallow in nuance. Give me John Ford or Robert Aldrich or Sam Fuller or Sam Remi or Sam Peckinpaugh or the Coen Brothers or Apatow or even S. Night scary dude any day of the week. But if you enjoy this sort of malarkey, hey knock yourself out. It takes all kinds to make a world.

Ann Althouse said...

Wimpy bespectacled old nerd guy ≠ Javier Bardem.

Trooper York said...

Well of course he is using an idealized surrogate version of himself as an artist and a lover. Because it is too ridiculous to contemplate acting the role himself. This fact has finally penetrated his self regard like he would his newest nubile stepdaughter. Plus the continuing commercial rejection of his persona is too strong for him to carry a movie. These flicks barely make back the negative costs. He is just a hack. In fifty years he will be barely a footnote in movie history. The Tyler Perry of the West Side Yuppie Whole Foods eating, Prius Driving, nuance rubbing intelligentsias who have no problem making excuses for kid touchers.

William said...

When I was young, I was a big fan of Woody Allen. If you get to work through your sexual neuroses with Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow, they are not neuroses but seductive devices. He could balance all the pretensions, anxieties and aspirations of the introspective and overly well read on the tip of a wisecrack. He was very graceful to watch....That's what made the whole Soon-Yi debacle so painful to watch. The inside joke with Woody was that for all his neuroses, he was saner and wiser than the rest of us. Not so. The joke I remember from the time was that 30 yrs of analysis gave him the strength and self confidence necessary to sleep with his foster daughter. His life mocked his talent. The first time I saw Manhattan I thought it was terrific. I defy anyone to see it post Soon-Yi and not be creeped out....

knox said...

The joke I remember from the time was that 30 yrs of analysis gave him the strength and self confidence necessary to sleep with his foster daughter

At the time,t here was an episode of "Politically Incorrect" where they discussed the question of: Is Woody Allen's situation proof that psychotherapy is of no legitimate use whatsoever? That it, in fact nurtures and encourages narcissism? In Allen's case, YES is the obvious answer.

glenntkenny said...

Wow, you're right, Althouse. You really destroyed me.

Still, that doesn't make anything you wrote about "Vicky Christina Barcelona" any more interesting, engaging, or intelligent. You might want to try working on that instead of searching the internet for the most unflattering image of a person you don't care for. An image I've already expressed a horror of, myself. So I suppose we agree on something.

Ann Althouse said...

Don't flatter yourself. It was pretty much the first picture that came up. So now you can criticize me for failing to spend time researching whether you've expressed horror of it.

And if you're so sure what I wrote about this movie isn't interesting, why do you think there are 70 comments on it?

I know it must be tough dealing with a non-expert writing casually and spontaneously about a movie when you have to construct an essay that serves the interests of MSM readers, but that's what blogging is. It's a different way of writing about things and some people like it.

Why does it bug you so much?

Ann Althouse said...

By the way, Glenn, it's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." You might want to try working on your spelling.

prostate cancer and treatment said...

I really like this film. Woody Allen is a gem.