Vicky Cristina Barcelona

This movie has been playing down the street for weeks and I've resisted. Mainly because I didn't want to deal with it. I didn't feel like half-suffering through another Woody Allen movie and leaving mildly depressed because he's still not on his game properly. From Small Time Crooks-- through the blur of whatevery flicks-- up until Match Point, the guy could barely hold my attention. And after being disappointed by Match Point I figured I was sadly done with the Woodster. Dismissed. (Plus, I felt a stab of betrayal by his abandonment of New York). I decided to let the movies of his that I love-- peacefully fade into the sunset in a blurry mishmash of black and white, jazz songs, existential arguments, goofy antics, and fumbly love. When I started hearing murmurs that this new movie was "pretty good actually"-- frankly, I just assumed at best... it just half-sucked.

I hated the title. Vicky Cristina Barcelona? Really? It sounds like it was produced online in a random movie title generator. And I wasn't psyched to see Scarlett 'The Muse' Johnson and her stiffish delivery (although her boobs are always a lure).  And I wasn't in the mood for creaky jokes and some whiny winey love situation. Plus, I groaned at the idea of mentally traveling abroad to Barcelona (a place I want to go and never been) and get pummeled with regret at my lack of real travel over the last decade. On top of it all, I certainly did not need the creepy slant of the rumors of a sex charged threesome plot (especially with "Woody" directing) It sounded to me like a guy hitting the wall of his 19th midlife crisis.

Anyway, I just got back from seeing this flick and I'm was floored by how much I dug this movie.  His best movie since Sweet and Lowdown by far-- although the competition isn't so steep. Right from the getgo instead of being selfish with my attitude about seeing Barcelona I was amazed by the jawdrop architecture. Scarlett Johnson, although she ain't winning any Oscar anytime soon, didn't really get on my nerves. The dialogue bounced around all charming teasingly. Javier Barnum forces you to stare at him. I thought the plot was solid enough and although it was otherworldy it still fell in the realm of realities. Side characters did their job. I laughed out loud at least a dozen times. And when Penelope Cruz showed up I started loving this flick.

Yadda, I got slightly annoyed at some stuff. The narrator's voice tone cut through me sideways. Some side stuff didn't work. There was a palatable cheese flavor. And I did get mildly grumpy about the idea that some people actually live life speeding around convertibles, lazing in love in vineyards, hanging with wildly cool friends while listening to spanish guitar, then of course 'making passionate love' every night in a rich rustic countryhouse, and waking up to the sunrise to paint splatter on giant canvases for a living. I guess somebody somewhere lives like that. So when I got home to my little walk-up apartment and my dog was like, 'You're home!! Scratch my ears!! Rub my butt!!' I was like, 'Fruck! You're not Scarlett Johnson and Penelope Cruz!! You're not even close!! Where's my vineyard! Where's my Alfa Romeo!? Where's my figs!? Where's my splatter art!?' And he was like, 'Hey Jerk! I said, rub my butt! So rub... my... butt!!'

Three Good Things About this Movie

- I think Penelope Cruz deserves a best supporting actress nomination.
- It was surprisingly funny and a beautiful looking flick.
- I liked how it danced around the various formulas of love and art.

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- It's a little too smooth.
- The narrator never failed to intrude.
- There were a few shifts in there that grinded it gears a bit.

All in all, the whole experience was sort of like visiting an old restaurant you used to love and you personally know the owner. For years it was great. Then now and again, you'd catch a bad meal. But you had faith it was just some sort of temporary thing. An off night. So you kept visiting based on obligation and the hopes that it'll return to form. But more often than not  it just simply sucked. The horrible dessert. The wilted lettuce. Rude service to boot.

But one day you wander by and see they're now serving spanish food. Groan. Spanish food?! You figure it's gotta be friggin horrible. Desperate. But for old time's sake you try it out-- expecting the worst. And it's stunningly good!! The appetizers were spicy and flaky! Main course cooked just right! Presented with love. Chompity chomp! The kitchen door swings open and for a split second you see that old chef with big glasses waving his arms around and babbling nervously about something. And gotta love that he's still back there enthusiastically banging around those pots and pans. Proving that cooking is art.