Friday, August 22, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona Johansson Woody... etc.

I just got back from seeing Woody Allen's new film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona... seems ol' Woody has himself a new favorite ingenue in Scarlett Johansson (who was also in Allen's Match Point and Scoop), who sexes it up alongside Rebecca Hall and Penelope Cruz.

Javier Bardem isn't as scary as his Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, but he is still emotionally unnerving (upon first meeting Johansson and Hall's characters, he bluntly suggests that all three of them sleep together). He's also the best thing happening in the film, aside from Penelope Cruz, who will probably get an Academy Award nomination.

Johansson's primary function in the film is to be looked at - and she does her job well, for what it is (though she was best in Match Point). Rebecca Hall, on the other hand, is much more interesting for her subtlety - I was surprised to discover that she is British (both girls play Americans having a lost weekend of sorts in Barcelona).

I won't spoil the story, except to say that Allen's take on fidelity and the transient nature of sexual encounters is much more effective without him in the movie - thank goodness he spared us (unlike in Scoop).

Still, I can't help to think of this film, with its American ex-patriotism motif (as well as Scarlett Johansson), as Woody's version of Lost in Translation. Actually, the parallels are hard to ignore... still worth a look, unless you haven't seen The Dark Knight (much better use of $10.25).

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