Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. Runtime: 96 mins Release Date: 15 Aug 2008
Recently, Woody Allen has not been at his best. There have been some rather forced thrillers that started promising but rambled on, losing their impact. The spark and appreciation for the fine elements in human relationships had almost vanished. For years, we could count on him for combining drama and comedy, for giving us the feel that we were enjoying some light entertainment, with tons of self-deprecating humor, but we were really exploring the depths of human imperfections. He could make us think, rejoice, laugh at ourselves, at others, and a great time was almost guaranteed. Hilarity <more>
existed alongside reflection and guilt, and gems like "Crimes and Misdemeanors", "Bullets Over Broadway", and "The Purple Rose of Cairo" forced to look at the world around us and more importantly, at each other."Vicky Cristina Barcelona" does not reach the heights of some of those classics, but it missed by very little. Had Woody played with its length a little more, done some careful editing, and the film would have exploded in ways that very few works of art do nowadays. Maybe some of the ethereal beauty of its setting managed to lull him into relaxing a little too much. The film is gorgeously photographed and captures both the intensity and the peace of Barcelona and its surroundings. The emotions of the visitors are almost palpable, and some of the locals' own feelings come through."Barcelona" could be seen as just a love affair that gets out of control, well, in a very special way, since there are four people at the heart of such relationship. We have two hot-blooded local artists unable to maintain a healthy commitment together because of the fire that lives in each of them. A very impressionable American who yearns for things she doesn't understand and that she might not want. In the hands of Scarlett Johansson, this character is interestingly portrayed. As is the case in Allen's work, women are very strongly written. It is a difficult role to play since we must learn to understand what motivates her, and how this is also perceived by others. It is a character that would have earned more than a critical look in other times. Allen gives her more dimension and tries to explain what lives in the soul of Cristina.Along for the ride is Vicky, the one female role that could have been eclipsed by everyone else, but it is the quiet turmoil in the heart of this woman that makes it stand out. Everyone else jumps recklessly in the middle of this love feast. It takes a bit of analytical discomfort for Vicky to eventually surrender to the old world's charms. She is attracted but scared by the offerings of this exotic universe, and it is her objectivity that allows for some balance because at the other end of the spectrum are two Spanish powerhouses, flawlessly played by Bardem and Cruz, reinforcing their newly appreciated talents.Bardem does an amazing job playing the seductive artist, a man who appears very self-assured and apparently has no time to waste on games. He puts the cards on the table and lets others join in at their own discretion. He is smooth, very likable, and quite a cad. We can't help but looking at the subtlety of his maneuvers and somehow see that it all should be problem free. However, he does have a past, and he can't sever his ties to the very unstable ex-wife.Played by Cruz, this woman is a powerhouse, somehow who can't and won't rain her spirit, This lady has no problem expressing herself, can't be accused of never being direct, and she provokes quite a reaction on anyone who happens to cross her path. As already mentioned, there is still a bond between her and Bardem, and neither lets go, aware there is probably no way their paths will ever be completely separate. In the film, it is the chemistry produced by putting Cristina, Bardem, and Cruz that fascinates the viewer. Nothing will turn out as expected, and as we are amazed by the fireworks, we also get more than a peek at what resides in each person's heart.It is quite a comeback for Allen, one that should have been bigger and more widely admired, one that might never seen the light of a director's or a revised cut, one where the parts are sometimes more powerful than the whole. Making the film in an exotic locale, with two very talented Spanish actors certainly helps Allen. It is also noticeable that he appears to be missing, yet one character can almost pass as is alter ego. It wouldn't be a Woody Allen film otherwise. "Barcelona" is another gem on his crown as one of our best filmmakers.
Sex, vacations, art, beauty and meaningless fun. (by doug-697)
In Love & Death Diane Keaton's character at one point says to Woody's character that "Sex without love is a meaningless experience." Woody retorts "Yes, but as meaningless experiences go, it's one of the best.' I think that almost describes what this movie is all about. The movie is not about work and career, children and family, or the meaning of Life. It about sex, art, vacations, beauty, danger and fun. So, it's a movie that should appeal to all those who've spent most of their lives pursuing the former. It reminded me somewhat of Midsummer's <more>
Night Sex Comedy although without the cinematographic genius of Gordon Willis . It's also a movie that you should be able to safely take someone who's not a Woody die-hard. Some feel Woody's movies will lean toward the intellectual, but this is not that.Also, I've never been a big Penelope Cruz fan, but, WOW, here she is the best part of the movie. Very sexy and she got some of the biggest laughs even though she wasn't really doing anything comedic, but rather by just being crazy with complete believability.As a Woody fan who's seen the best he can do I'd give this an 8 or 9, but compared to all the other movies playing in theatres today it's definitely a 10.
Woody's back!...and he seems to have finally grown up. I was a huge WA fan back in the 80s when he was banging out stellar works like Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes & Misdemeanors and Husbands & Wives...but remember these works were quite dark in attitude. I thought he had a few amusing efforts in the 90s...mainly Bullets over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite and Celebrity...but, again, these works were written by an author who is sad and distraught about the impossibility of 'happily ever after.' To be quite frank, I was bored with all his movies this century including Match <more>
Point which I thought was a rehashed version of Crimes & Misdemeanors...minus the laughs .In Vicky Cristina Barcelona WA seems to have finally found his mature outlook on passion, love, and romance. He is now a REALIST. I was overwhelmed by the line, "The only true love is unrequited love." He nailed it. Only the lack of resolution can make passion last. Otherwise it either fades or turns into negative emotions such as anger and resentment. These are the same themes Shakespeare examined in A Midsummer Nights Dream. And like that great play, VCB acknowledges that love and passion are a glorious part of life, but doesn't try to pretend that love is perfect or that 'happily ever after' really exists...the movie remains grounded in realism without becoming morose at the end like some of WA's earlier films.The writing is witty, intelligent and intense. The acting is superb especially Javier Bardem who is a truly GREAT actor . The directing is brilliant and subtle...notice how many times Vicky changes clothes before meeting Juan Antonio which epitomizes her desire for this man AND her confusion about her feelings. Also, Woody seems to have finally dropped his beloved Jazz, which I always found distracting, out-of-place and annoying in most of his earlier movies the Gershwin in Manhattan being a notable exception .After seeing this movie I went on Amazon and purchased the 3 box Woody Allen DVD collection. Woody's finally back in my life.
A triumphant effort from Woody Allen (by ametaphysicalshark)
Although this film has bizarrely been described as breezy summer entertainment by some top critics which leads me to wonder if they saw the same movie I did, or just the first half hour , "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is the closest thing to the sort of examination of relationships that Allen became famous for in quite some time "Anything Else" counts, I suppose, but lacks the sharpness this film has , and although it is far from as weighty as some of his dramas or even some of his comedies, this is his first really inspired script in a while, featuring a cast of detailed, <more>
well-developed characters, some razor-sharp observations on relationships, and a wicked sense of humor.Although I never thought Woody's work this decade was particularly poor other than "Cassandra's Dream" and although I'm in a minority "Match Point" , it has mostly been completely inconsequential and almost entirely dependent on broad characterizations and heavy plotting rather than real people and awkwardly comic situations which has always been Allen's strong suit . A career-best performance from Scarlett Johansson, a wickedly entertaining turn from Penelope Cruz, and the absolute revelation that is Rebecca Hall form a great cast along with Javier Bardem in a role that may surprise the majority of the American public well, for most of the movie, anyway . You can feel Allen's mark on their mannerisms, but they all seem to disappear into these characters, that's how good they are.I'm keeping this as spoiler-free as possible, because it's really worth going into the theater not expecting anything in particular and savoring the film's often unexpected but never contrived plot twists and turns. All you should know is that Vicky Rebecca Hall and Cristina Scarlett Johansson go to Barcelona for the summer and things get complicated when they meet a charming, mysterious, and rich painter Javier Bardem and he makes a rather upfront proposition to both of them. It's best if you know nothing of how Cruz' character impacts the film prior to watching it.In relation to Allen's other work I thought it was interesting that he never attempted to analyze sex. The whole movie is in many ways about sex, and there is a lot of the expected philosophical and psychological examination of the relationships between the characters in the film, but sex itself is never analyzed as it is in much of Allen's work, and is instead treated as the impenetrable mystery it is. That said, Allen's script is extraordinarily nuanced, something that I haven't expected from his writing in a while. Sure, the characters still represent opposing romantic philosophies, but there's a spark in the writing that makes these feel like real people as opposed to mere characters. That spark, that chemistry is there throughout "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", it's there in the vibrant cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe, it's there in the performances, it's there in the shot composition, and it's there in the editing, and in pretty much anything else I haven't mentioned yet. The first forty minutes or so of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" may be the sort of romantic comedy very good romantic comedy, at that that the advertising campaign seems to suggest it is, but for the rest of the film there's the sort of pessimistic optimism that colors much of Allen's work if that makes sense, pretend you didn't read it if it didn't , and let's just say it doesn't end well for these characters. There's real complexity and intensity in this film, and all I have to say is this: Woody Allen is back, the perceptive, intelligent examiner of the human heart, that is, not what we've had for the past while. To say this is one of his best films would be ignoring the fact that through the 70's and 80's he pretty much made nothing but great films, but I can at least say that this is on par with some of his better work.8.5/10
I've been waiting for the past 7 films to find the old woody. (by thankyoumrwilly)
I just got back from a free screening of this movie. Wonderful, brilliant, thought provoking, funny, great story in the way only Woody Allen could do. The acting was great, the writing was great, the story was great. As well as the fact that it wasn't a poor rehash of Crimes and Misdemeanors like Match Point and Cassandra's Dream. So refreshing on all levels. Javier Bardem embodies the character and truly allows me to forget about his role in Old Country. Patricia Clarkson, a gem as always. The girls were all great. Had not been impressed with Scarlett Johansson since Lost in <more>
Translation and was bored with her work in the last of his films but she held her own and did the part great. Penélope Cruz was wonderful, vibrate and funny especially when doing the Spanish. At 71 the man still has it and has rehashed the place in my heart where I hold his wonderful art. Simply happy and fulfilled. Thank you Woody!
Vicky a neurotic and sexy Rebecca Hall and Cristina a neurotic and gorgeous Scarlett Johansson are two American tourists in Spain examining their differing views on love in Woody Allen's breezy and alluring "Vicky Cristina Barcelona". Amidst a tempestuous summer in Barcelona, the ladies are both seduced by a free-thinking painter a perfect Javier Bardem whose own life is complicated by his still passionate relationship with his ex-wife a devastating Penelope Cruz, who has never looked more beautiful .Much like the change from New York City to London invigorated Allen in <more>
"Match Point", this vacation to Spain has revived some of the director's more artistic aspirations. The scenery is postcard perfect but drenched in that same dizzying lushness that made Allen's view of NYC so intoxicating in "Manhattan". The churches, the homes, the art museums, the countryside, the intimate city streets and touristy details make you feel like you are visiting Barcelona along with Allen and his cast.There's also sharpness to the trademark Woody dialog that has been missing for quite some time. Like all of Allen films, this one is endlessly talky, but there's some great subversion when certain lines that seem like throw-aways actually pack a punch when given a second thought. When Bardem first attempts to talk Johansson's character into bed, he says something clichéd about her being hard to please. Quick witted, Johansson replies, "I'm famous for my intolerance." She says it casually, but it packs a bite as it's the complete antithesis of her character's outward desire to be someone who rallies against cultural norms, and she presents herself as someone who is easy-going and tolerant of all.Allen also displays a keen sense of pacing when he creates tension in his build up to Cruz's appearance after her character is endlessly talked about but never seen until about half way through the film. When Cruz finally arrives, her moody whirling dervish of a performance is the perfect spice to liven up the soupy proceedings. Her seething, fiery line readings combined with looks that could kill make her the front-runner for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars.The baseline archetypal characters are essentially clichéd, but the way in which Allen handles all of their interpersonal relationships is fairly sophisticated and entertaining even when it grows absurd. There is of course that kiss between Scarlett and Penelope but also some moments of Lynchian-lite when Allen photographs the brunette Hall and blonde Johansson similarly to make them seem like they are two sides of the same woman. There's even more weirdness when die-hard Woody fans realize that in some perverse way Scarlett Johansson's character is the "Woody" part--as in any film he does not star, there is always one character who represents the part he would've played had he been in it. However, film buffs will enjoy some of the nice touches like when Hall and another go to see Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" one of my all time favorite films or the repetitive use of a Spanish guitar in the soundtrack whenever Bardem and Hall get together. But then there's the mostly unnecessary voice-over narration that fills in expository gaps and shows Allen can still be a lazy tactician.Woody Allen has always been an acquired taste, even more so in his latter years when he sometimes forgets how to provoke, but his fans should be delighted with this latest European flavored effort. In the end, you'll feel like Javier Bardem is the luckiest man in the world, Penelope Cruz is operating at the echelon of her appeal, and Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson, well, they'll always have Barcelona.
Barcelona is recognizable enough and exotic enough to frame the latest complication from Woody Allen. Allen himself claims to care very little about films. He doesn't consider them the center of his life. Strange, because I do, Woody Allen without his films is...well I don't know who or what he is. Here he ventures again outside New York in a shape and form that reminded me a little bit of Jacques Rivette. Scarlet Johansson and Rebecca Hall, as the blond and the brunette of the title, make a great pair of opposites or seemingly so. Javier Bardem is the artist that comes to ruffle <more>
their world and the spectacular Penelope Cruz getting better and better with every movie is the hysterical side of the artist's past. We spend a great deal of time sitting at tables eating and drinking while a voice over guide us through their physical and emotional journey. I was delighted, entertained ever aroused. Woody Allen keeps surprising and he's got it whether he cares about it or not.
Principled monogamists may not like this film. Not only does it show its primary characters in relationships with multiple partners but, with one exception, they are quite open with each other about it. Allen suggests both that romantic happiness is best achieved with more than one person and that it is necessarily ephemeral I wonder what his young wife, Soon-Yi Previn, thinks . He says in a Los Angeles Times interview with Rachel Abramowitz that Vicky Cristina Barcelona is, ultimately, "a very sad film." If so, it may be the brightest sad film ever made. All of the actors are at <more>
their best and make immediate connections with the audience. With the exception of an unnecessary voice-over narration in which Gaudí is mispronounced with stress on the initial syllable , the self-conscious affectations that haunt some of Allen's films are absent. Fine actors are allowed to speak for themselves. According to the Abramowitz interview, Allen "never talked to the actors, other than to give them stage directions." The resulting feel is often one of brilliant improvisation.The complex romantic relationships among its four primary characters are what the movie's mostly about and I won't spoil it by going into them. Patricia Clarkson, however, deserves mention for her role as Judy Nash, the middle-aged wife of an American couple who are friends of Vicky's parents and with whom solid Vicky and impetuous Cristina stay in Barcelona though Cristina soon moves in with the charismatic artist, Juan Antonio . Judy is married to a dull but steady man, somewhat similar to the man that Vicky is about to wed. Vicky confides to Judy about her uncharacteristic fling with Juan Antonio. Judy advises Vicky to reap her passion while she can and arranges another meeting between the two. All of this is low-keyed and entirely believable.As the movie's title suggests, it's about Barcelona as well as Vicky and Cristina. There are many outdoor shots of the city, especially of Gaudí's Park Güell. They amount to more than a minor travelogue because structures that are usually photographed in isolation appear with everyday crowds of people. Like Bruges in the movie In Bruges, the city is more than scenic background. Though never mentioned explicitly, Barcelona's anarchist past bubbles to the surface.
Something happened to Woody Allen when he decided to abandon Manhattan, the setting of most of his films, for Europe. It seems Mr. Allen has found a new way to leave behind his angst in exchange for a new, somewhat less restrained sexual atmosphere in which to set his movies. This, of course, is a welcome relief. After all, Mr. Allen was getting in a rut with his last cinematic ventures.Every year thousands of young American college students invade Europe, either in exchange programs, or just enrolled in foreign language studies, or just vacationing in the Continent. Most of these kids come <more>
from conservative, and in many ways, puritanical backgrounds, probably having no sexual experience to speak of. Vicky and Cristina, two of those students, are seen in Barcelona where they undergo a somewhat sentimental education in a different milieu.While Vicky is less adventurous than her friend Cristina, both will be transformed by the meeting of the hunky Juan Antonio and his estranged wife, Maria Elena. Juan Antonio offers them sex, and even proposes to do it with both of them at the same time. Vicky, a more prudish girl, can't go along, but Cristina, the more adventuresome, doesn't even bat an eyelash when she gets together with him and the former wife, who is game for entering in a sexual triangle.This time though, the principal male figure, Juan Antonio, is an aggressive man, in contrast with other characters that have served Mr. Allen well in his American movies. Javier Bardem proves he can excel when he is guided with a sure hand, as is the case here. Penelope Cruz fares better than in most of her Hollywood previous work in a role that gives her an edge over the more passive parts she has played before.This is not to say there has not been sex involved in Mr. Allen's previous films. In showing a new freedom in how to present it on the screen, he has shied away from all the neurotic men and women that have been at the center of his work. This is a welcome development in a man who has decided to reinvent himself by getting away from his usual playing ground.