America, Meet Woody Allen

Long after most of Woody Allen's fans had shunned him for not always making movies on the level of Crimes and Misdemeanors (just in sheer numbers, fuckers, this man has made more masterpieces than anybody—this is not an exaggeration; remember Love and Death, Annie Hall, Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah and Her Sisters, Husbands and Wives?!; what about Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo, September, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Bullets Over Broadway, Match Point?!; name one filmmaker who has even come close to making that many great movies!), I still go see Woody Allen movies on opening day. But his new one, Vicky Christina Barcelona, also features Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz performing a lesbo kiss, which as a byproduct conveniently continues my education in the mind of the straight male. (After the movie, Robert said that for the lesbo kiss alone, Woody Allen should be hailed a national treasure.) The lesbo kiss is kind of a spoiler because it's supposed to be a surprise late in the film, but that's all anyone is talking about on the Internet and it's right there in the trailer.

The girl at the box office asked me, "What's this movie about?," when I went to buy tickets.

I said, "It's the new Woody Allen," a statement that was met with a heart-crushing blank stare. I then exclaimed, "It's about beautiful people in Spain!"

"That sounds great!" she declared.

I walked away thinking, "Sometimes I hate America."

To my surprise, the theater was pretty full, the audience was unusually raucous, and they clapped at the end. I felt like I had entered an alternate reality. This doesn't happen at Woody Allen movies!

The film is good (not quite Match Point good); Penelope Cruz is hysterically fierce (I didn't know!); everybody else is uniformly terrific and real; and, despite its good spirits, Vicky Christina Barcelona is somewhat of a tragedy, a sad meditation on the complexities (and impossibilities?) of romantic love.

I think the following trailer gives way too much away, so avoid it if you don't want to be spoiled any more than you already have. But I just noticed I didn't describe the plot, and I'm too lazy to go back. So I'll let these moving pictures do it for me:


  1. i am waiting for this to show up this week....

    ....i love this town for the cheapness of the admission price. i had heard cruz was amazing, i'm dying to find out.

  2. Cruz IS amazing. I didn't realize how funny she is!

  3. I'm gonna see it tomorrow! I tried to this weekend but i kept getting sidetracked.

  4. I was suprised at how funny Penelope Cruz was in Woman on Top, I never really thought I would like her much before I saw that. I like the dumb Woody Allen movies nobody else really likes- most notably Everyone Says I Love You, because I totally think that people should express themselves by breaking into Gershwin songs whenever possible. And Sweet and Lowdown has one of my favorite Sean Penn performances ever.

  5. I'd love to see this soon, but we'll have to wait until it hits DVD (that or travel to a big city where movie theaters actually play Woody Allen films).

    You did ask a question, I believe. "Has anyone come close to the sheer volume. . ." Martin Scorsese? Steven Speilberg? (I know he makes popcorn movies, but give the man SOME credit)
    But, yeah, Allen is one creative old bat.

  6. Ashley, let me know what you think. I wonder if girls like it.

    LAP, I'll have to check out Woman on Top. I like Everyone Says I Love You too. And I do think some of his recent ones like Anything Else and Scoop were unfairly maligned.

    Mike, I don't think Scorsese has made enough movies yet to have enough to be considered great. But then again, I've never been a big Scorsese fan, though After Hours is one of my favorite movies. (I know, I know, he's got the whole Italian thing going for him, in your eyes, so I understand.)

    As for Spielberg, I LOVE Spielberg. I'm always defending him, and, if anyone comes close to the output of Woody Allen, then it's proabbly Spielberg.

    ...By the way, I'm actually surprised people in North Carolina know what "movies" are. You mean, when they see a speeding train on screen, they don't run away from it because they think it's real?

  7. Ha ha! Mean Streets? Taxi Driver? Raging Bull? The Last Temptation of Christ? New York, New York? Goodfellas? Casino? The Aviator? Gangs of New York? The Departed? Shall I continue?

    We hillbillies know what movies are. They're what Californians make when they're not making pornos, or in rehab, or shopping around for the hot new plastic surgeon.

  8. I'm a girl and I really enjoyed this movie. I am also, to be fair, an unabashed Woody Allen fan, so that probably helped.

    I went into it not being a big fan of Bardem, Johansson, nor Cruz, but left a changed woman. Bardem was sexy without being creepy, Johansson's character was naive without being stupid, and Cruz was crazy without being annoying. These are difficult balances to draw.

    I read a review in Entertainment Weekly that Bardem uses the term "make love" in this film and the reviewer complained that nobody says that anymore and that Woody should retire the phrase. I will admit that I don't summon many paramours using it, but Bardem's character is the son of a European poet. I think there's still room for the term in that respect. So suck it, EW.

  9. Mike, I am very offended by your gross stereotypes of Californians. You don't see ME going around making blanket statements about North Carolina people (even though they are all inbred and have fucked up teeth).

    Deb, I saw that EW review too and "make love" totally makes sense in the context of Bardem's character. And I'm glad girls like it!