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!