Vicky Cristina Barcelona

 
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  • Woody back to his roots
    Woody Allen has never made a secret of Ingmar Bergman's influence on his work. VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA is very Bergman-esque, but it also somehow remains distinctly Woody Allen. The great script once again proves, as so many Woody Allen films do, that the story is the cornerstone of any good film, and the great acting adds the crowning touch. Visually, the blu ray version is stunning....more info
  • Glorious cast, glorious city, glorious sex - but why so freaking unhappy?
    Woody Allen's "Vicki Cristina Barcelona" is a frustrating mix of a movie. On the surface, it is smart (Woody Allen, after all), beautifully shot in one of the world's most gorgeous locations - Barcelona and the surrounding Spanish countryside - and filled with talented, glorious actors.

    But ultimately, the movie has an emptiness at its core that rankles - namely, why are these people so unhappy?

    The story revolves around two ladies who just don't know how good they have it. If you are beautiful, rich, and able to "live well," you should be thankful and able to suck the marrow out of life. And yet Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) perpetually frown and quibble with life's minor details as they spend the summer in Barcelona (for free!) as they crash at a friend's spectacular villa.

    Most of us would feel as if we'd won the Lottery of Life to spend a summer like this. Things get even better when gorgeous artist Juan Gonzalo (Javier Bardem) propositions the duo with a sex romp - coming from him, it's charming rather than sleazy. This ultimately leads to romantic crises for both Vicky as she cheats on her hum-drum fiance with Juan and Cristina as she gets involved in a love triangle with Juan and his ex-wife, Maria (Penelope Cruz, in her Oscar-winning role).

    Throughout the movie, you want to scream at these beautiful people living beautiful lives - why aren't you happy???? Things are just too good to be believed - nobody seems to lack for funds, nobody has a bad job, and everybody is a cover model. The nagging unreality of it all ultimately undermines the movie's ruminations on life, happiness, and relationships.

    Imagine, if you will, you strive to be a bohemian artist in Europe. You find yourself living in a villa with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, developing your art and having sex with two of the most beautiful people alive (as a friend of mine said, the scenes with Bardem and Cruz had both her straight and lesbian friends throwing [.........] at the screen). How on earth could you ever conclude, "this is not enough for me"? Yet it happens in this movie.

    I really, really wanted to love this movie, and while I can admire its craft - can I be the location scouter for Woody's next movie, or help light the sets? - the fact that these people are so far removed from any real universe neuters the movie. The blame lies not with the actors - they are each radiant and talented - but with the yawning void of self-centered narcissism inside each character. When Vicki and Cristina waltz off in the final scene, all I could say was "good riddance." ...more info
  • About Barcelona
    The movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona, produced in 2008 and starring Rebecca Hall as Vicky, Scarlett Johansson as Cristina, Javier Bardem as Juan Antonio and Penelope Cruz as Maria Elena, is a story about two good friends, Vicky and Cristina, and their summer getaway to Spain. Once in Spain the two girls meet Juan Antonio, a sort of Spanish Casanova with very liberal views on love and relationships. Both girls get involved with Juan Antonio and eventually with Maria Elena, his somewhat crazy ex-wife. Vicky has one night of passion with Juan Antonio and develops feelings for him but is torn between him and the commitment to her fianc¨¦e whom she eventually marries in Barcelona. Juan Antonio then starts a relationship with Cristina which leads to great chemistry, since they share a passion for life, art, and similar views on love. Then, Maria Elena comes to live with Juan Antonio and Cristina after she overdosed on pills and that starts a strange three-way relationship between Cristina, Juan Antonio and Maria Elena. Everything seems well until Cristina realizes this is not what she wants and decides to return to America with Vicky, who has settled to remain with her new husband rather than follow through with her feelings for Juan Antonio. Both Vicky and Cristina return to America feeling the same way they had at the beginning of the movie.

    Vicky is presented at the beginning of the movie as a girl that knows what she wants. She knows what she wants, plans for it, and gets it. She like stability and predictability. In love, Vicky values much the same things like stability, commitment and even predictability to some extent. She is very sensible even though sh pretends to not be the type to get carried away with the right romantic setting. Cristina likes many of the same things Vicky does we are told at the beginning of the movie but leads a completely different lifestyle. Cristina likes spontaneity and avoids predictability at all costs. She is not sure what she wants out of life and tries her hand at many artistic pursuits in search of her niche. I love she is only sure of what she does not want: Vicky's love life. Cristina seems to expect any truly passionate and worthwhile romance to inevitably lead to pain and so seem s to prefer these types of risky romances.

    Throughout the movie, the two girls seem to serve as each others balancing opposite. Vicky is the voice of reason that Cristina needs to hear from time to time and Cristina adds a little excitement to Vicky's rather predictable life. It is strange to see just how well these to characters get along together being so fundamentally different and this may be the reason that they work so well together. They understand each other, perhaps, because each one is what the other wishes they were like. Towards the end Vicky almost takes that risk to go with Juan Antonio, as Cristina would have done, which shows that despite her better knowledge she was willing to take the risk. In the end reality sinks in to both girls and they return to their normal lives. Vicky playing it safe and Cristina still only sure of what she did not want.
    ...more info
  • But why an Oscar?
    The film was interesting, all the acting was good, the tiring Woody "too much talking" was typical, Penelope was cast well in this role - but nothing "oscar worthy" here . .??? Disappointed in that....more info
  • Aside from the voiceover, it's a pretty good flick
    I do not understand why there is a voiceover narration in this movie. It is distracting. The narrator's voice itself is rather nasal and not at all pleasant on the ears. It seems as if Woody Allen was attempting to emulate the ironic detachment and science-doc parody narrator of the far superior Little Children. He fails. The voiceover is NEVER used appropriately. At times, it actually impairs the performance of the actors. In one scene, for example, it tells us that a character is drunk. When you hire an Oscar winner like Javier Bardem, it seems safe to assume that he can play drunk convincingly, and that we don't need a narrator to tell us this. And if for some reason he can't do it, maybe all the empty wine glasses helpfully supplied by the prop department can clue us in. At other times, the voiceover carries us forward in time, or sets up a scene. A good writer can accomplish that with a few lines of exposition hidden in the dialogue, and a good director can accomplish it with a montage or some nifty editing. If I could ask Woody Allen one question about this movie, it would be why he suddenly felt he wasn't equal to that task, and instead needed this wholly intrusive narrator to do his job for him.

    Narration aside, I enjoyed the film. It's just a fun, frothy, frisky romp though the Spanish countryside. The background is even more attractive than the cast. The premise is a little trite and the characters are paper-thin, but it certainly met my entertainment quotient, and my expectations. This in spite of the fact that, as is apparently usual with Woody Allen's DVD releases, there are zero extras.

    Oh, and as for that recent Oscar win? Penelope Cruz didn't deserve it. Her performance is all flash -- no substance, and no heart....more info
  • VCB=F.U.N.
    My wife and I watched this last night not expecting anything and loved it. Not a normal Woody Allen film, but a great rental at the least. I don't see how anybody could not enjoy this at home on the couch with a glass of wine....more info
  • One of the sunniest, brightest more insightful films in Woody's catalogue...
    I'm so excited to be writing a review for Woody's latest film `Vicky Cristina Barcelona'. This was one of the more rewarding cinematic experiences for me this past year and I just melt every time I think about its splendor. There are few films that ignite in me a warmth that is of the delightful kind, mostly because I relish more brooding fare, but every once in a while I find myself smitten with a film that has the ability to transport me to a happy place, and this film does that very thing. Instead of wrecking me emotionally, `Vicky Cristina Barcelona' manages to revitalize me, making me feel refreshed and anew.

    The film tells the story of two young friends, Vicky and Cristina, who travel to (you guessed it) Barcelona for a summer of freedom before Vicky marries her boyfriend Doug. Vicky, who is getting her major in Catalan Identity, is intrigued with immersing herself in the culture all around her while Cristina, who is flirtatiously trying to find herself, is ready to immerse herself in just about anything. When the girls meet the mysteriously charming painter Juan Antonio Gonzalo they have very differing opinions of him. Vicky is immediately turned off by his rather blunt offer (to take them away for the weekend to eat, drink and make love) while Cristina finds him interesting and intriguing and is ready to jump right in (literally). What sparks next is a love triangle that becomes a square when Juan's feisty ex-wife Maria Elena walks back into his life.

    Vicky, who has always felt that all she wanted was a stable life with her very ordinary boyfriend Doug has found that all she thought she wanted has been questioned by her unpredictable affair with Juan, and Cristina, who has never really ever known what she really wanted, has found that all she knows is what she doesn't want when her relationship with Juan and Maria, which seems to be going so well, fails to keep her satisfied.

    Some have baulked at the films blatant stereotyping and seemingly banal view of relationships, but what those complainers are failing to see is that the whole point of this film is that nothing is what we as typical Americans (or even typical humans) expect it to be. The film attacks our narrow view of what is normal and bizarre by giving us two very opposite extremes of our perspective of relationships. There is the cookie-cutter idea that man loves woman, man marries woman, they live happily ever after and then there is the free-love idea of woman loves man who loves woman and another woman and that woman loves the other woman so they all get together and live happily ever after. There is no balance because the film is attacking the simplistic and exacting view of modern society who at times fails to see that there are many types of relationships and many types of lives. Cristina, who knows that she doesn't want what Vicky has, is quick to plunge herself into something new, something out of the box, with Juan and Maria. This is her idea of what she thinks she wants, beings that she only knows what she doesn't want. She herself doesn't realize that just because she doesn't want the `ordinary' life doesn't mean that she has to want to `extraordinary' life either.

    When you understand why the stereotypes are there then you can appreciate the film much more.

    The acting across the board is superb. A lot of people have attacked Scarlett Johansson as of late for her supposed throwaway acting. They accuse her of not trying, of playing it safe; but when you exude the type of sensuality needed to play Cristina without having to try, why should she be panned. She is perfection here, capturing the spirit of Cristina magnificently. Rebecca Hall is also stunning here as Vicky, the complete opposite of Cristina. She balances her characters standoffish almost snobbery with her natural curiosity and confused emotional breakdown very well. Javier Bardem is charming and entertaining and engaging as Juan, but the women around him steal his light. No one steals the light quite like the breathtaking Penelope Cruz, who just sizzles and pops as Maria Elena. Her feisty take on the angry ex-wife is stunning. She may be the biggest stereotype, but like I said, it is that stereotype that propels the films message.

    I am in awe of this film and it is truly one of Woody Allen's greatest films. This feels very fresh when you consider that a lot of Allen's films can carry the same vibe. He attacks his favorite subject, that of relationships, but he does so with a different spin, with a refreshing cast and with a very bright, sunny and enjoyable result....more info
  • Two Twits and a Tour Guide ...
    ... Okay, okay, the twits are not bad looking, but I learned long ago, the hard way, that looks aren't everything. I could, if I wanted to start a fight in the comment thread, propose that Woody Allen intended us to take his two escapees from "Friends" as a biting satire of the airy-fairy mentality of young American women of a certain generation. From that perspective, I'd call VCB a great movie, or at least "not bad at all." Honestly, though, I can't say that I would have chosen to spend almost two hours "in the company" of that pair of vacuities! Hey, here's this product of American education, this tall willowy walking proof that at least 'one woman IS an island,' who is majoring in "Catalan Soul" or some such recreational pretense of learning, who can't speak Spanish at all! Not even as much Spanish as a Guatemalan gardener speaks English after a month in Scarsdale! That's Vicky. Then there's Christina. I'd believe the portrayal of Christina if only she had 'cutter' scars on her arms.

    The tour guide isn't Javier Bardem, if that's what you're thinking. It's that mealy-mouthed narrator! That twangy American accent, let's suppose generously, is part of the satire, which is intended to remind of of the pedagogical films shown in American foreign language classes. Oh, you think it was a stylish touch of cinema, do you? ?Que noci¨®n tan ingenua!

    As for Bardem, well... Woody Allen's projections and wishful self-images have gotten tedious long since, but perhaps this time he's over-reached.

    I've lived in Spain, by the way, in the university city of Salamanca. I found nothing very evocative or realistic about the sketches of Spain in this film, from the few scenes involving Spaniards other than as passing pedestrians, to the living spaces of the characters, to the travelogue photography of Barcelona and Oviedo.

    This is the sort of film that I like less and less the more I think of it. It was watchable, in a desultory way, given that I'd paid for it, but if I'd been watching it alone, I would have turned it off in favor of a book....more info
  • VCB sucked Matchpoint was better by far
    I hated this movie and don't get what all the hype was about. The main character vicki was annoying and I didn't care if she found love or not. Scarlett johannsen was the only saving grace. There is also a narrator over the whole movie which makes it almost unbearable. I do not recommend this and it did not deserve ANY awards or accolades. Watch Matchpoint -- much better film....more info
  • Solid Woody Allen Fare
    The major part of Woody Allen's body of cinematic work considers sexual matters bordering the perverse. "Vicki Christina Barcelona" is more of the same, but done, as always in Allen films, deftly. The absurdity of the situations was amusing, and I found myself smiling frequently during the film. Penelope Cruz was outstanding among a number of good performances. As a guitarist I appreciated the partial renditions of "Granada" and "Leyenda" in the background....more info
  • * * 1/2 Otra variaci¨®n de Manhattan...
    In a way, Woody Allen is every bit the escapist a filmmaker as are the directors who give you giant CGI dinosaurs and space battles. In what world other than Woody's do Bohemian painters, sculptors, writers, photographers and poets live in handsome houses, drink fine wines, drive luxury cars, and buy expensive antiques? It's not that *no* artists are so successful in the real world, but in Woody's movies *everyone* is. And none of the other characters blink, or remark how remarkable this is. Woody's people may still reside in the Village mentally, but materialistically their tastes are more Park Avenue.

    What bothers me about this is that Woody wants to eat his cake and have it too. His films always include boring characters (or more precisely, attractive, young and insecure females married or engaged to boring characters) who work in the white-collar corporate world. The implication from Allen is always that these are the dull people in life, that the Bohemians are the romantics with imagination and fire and passion. Yet the Bohemians never pay the price by living as Bohemians do. Their lifestyles are indistinguishable from the bean-counters that Woody seems to disdain. Only their sexual appetites seem more acute. At 73, I can still feel Woody's adolescent insecurities, long after he's made it big, wafting my way, and I'm not being puritanical here: I don't just mean the perverted ones.

    Which brings me to Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This film is very reminiscent of Manhattan, with a touch of Annie Hall, Match Point, Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, Hannah and her Sisters, Mighty Aphrodite, and a dozen other films thrown in: young Ivy League-ish females of conflicting temperaments and values and have "existential" crises in the middle of the film; said crises are solved by rotating or experimenting with sex partners. Or maybe the rotating of the sex partners *caused* the crises--we're so confused. But we do a lot of hand-wringing in the second act, always over fine wines and killer views, or inside million-dollar apartments owned by aforementioned Bohemian artists. In the end, there's a change once again of heart and we basically wind up at square one, where we started with these people. Substitute Gershwin for the Spanish guitar music at the end of VCB and you have the same film, more or less. After years of being accused of making the same basic film over and over, Woody has bought a Fodor's guidebook and set some of his more recent remakes in Europe. Shooting there is probably cheaper than New York anyway.

    At least it's all great fun. Throughout VCB I felt Woody wasn't taken this too seriously. This *isn't,* thank heavens, Interiors. It's almost as though Woody's become a self-aware manqu¨¦ of himself lately, at least to me. I mean, can we really expect anything new and eye-opening in the fifteenth film about young neurotic females on a journey that involves partner-swapping and clever allusions to the art world any more than we can expect anything new from Star Wars VII: Attack of the Phantom Droid Clones, whenever Lucas decides to make it? By now attending Woody films, like attending George films, has become ritual to his fans.

    Rebecca Hall plays the Diane Keaton part. Scarlett Johansson plays the Mia Farrow, or Mariel Hemmingway, or whoever, part. It's all well-written. Woody has a great ear for how people--at least people of a certain social and intellectual circle--talk, and he lets them talk, which is refreshing in an era where so much "dialogue" in films consists of the "f" word and short, sarcastic one-liners between special effect sequences. And he's gotten over his *other* big insecurity, which is filling his scripts with allusions to writers, philosophers, composers and other highbrows to show you how well-read he is. (Yes, I know he makes fun of people like this--Diane Keaton in Manhattan--but he also fills the "Woody" character with enough knowledge from Everyman's Library to keep the writers on Jeopardy busy for months.) The film is gorgeously shot, well-acted (especially by Hall and Cruz) and engaging. But in the end, it all feels hollow, partly because we've been there before, partly because he's not even *riffing* on himself anymore. No one and nothing changes. Without giving away spoilers, I'll just say no one seems to come to any realizations, which is why I put quotes around existential. They just have problems that last for two hours, conveniently.

    Not a bad film, but nothing to write home about (or send postcards) either. Also, as a few others have pointed out, the narrator was unnecessary, and the film would have been a bit better if we could have reached for ourselves some of the conclusions that are spoon-fed to us. And yes, I get the feeling that Woody is still more or less just filming his sexual fantasies, because, hey, it beats a stockbroker job, and seems to bring him the same accouterments....more info
  • Stellar film...
    Wonderful performances including an Academy-Award winning one from Penelope Cruz, excellent score, beautiful locales--all more than enough reasons to enjoy the deliciously sexy "Vicky Cristina Barcelona". Only quibble is that there are no extras on this DVD. But the film is well worth adding to your collection....more info
  • In your dreams, Woody...
    What a terrible film! The only thing interesting about it is Mr. Allen's delusion that people would ever want to see it. Empty-headed, narcissistic, idle robot-actors mimicing what Allen takes to be universal angst. Suggest you get back on the couch for a mental health tune-up, Woody! NO redeeming features...not even Barcelona itself.
    Run, do not walk, away, and don't look back at this boring mess. ...more info
  • Four Characters and No Funeral
    Although this movie has garnered more than its share of rave reviews I confess myself somewhat puzzled. It's a pleasant romp through familiar Woody Allen territory, though thankfully minus Allen himself as the primary protagonist and thankfully not set in Manhattan. There are essentially three human characters in the movie. The first is The Romantic Artist, here incarnated in cliched form as Juan Antonio and his ex-wife Maria Elena. Then comes American Woman, here incarnated not only as the two young American tourists but also as their elder female hostess. Finally comes American Man, uniformly drab and materialistic and rather dim, incarnated as the the male host and the guy from New York whom Vicky will end up marrying and additionally, in case the point wasn't made obviously enough, the male half of a couple that makes a brief over-dinner appearance full of chatter about expensive houses and entertainment systems. The fourth character - if we want to stretch the point just a little - is Barcelona, or at least a tourist's notion of the city-as-backdrop.

    Allen's point seems to be that American women are incapable of really engaging with life. Vicky holds life at bay through a series of elaborate quasi-intellectual charades in which she always misses the key point. Christina, who seems more willing to throw herself into the stream of life and let it carry her, in fact always extricates herself at the moment when she'd have to commit to really living. As the movie puts it, "she didn't know what she wanted, but she knew what she didn't want." And finally the hostess is living one of those lives of quiet desperation, too afraid to leave a dead marriage and too afraid to begin an affair. Likewise American Man is the walking dead. Only the Artist - in this case the Spanish binary star of Maria Elena and Juan Antonio - is willing to risk all (health, sanity, relationships) to swim with the currents of life.

    This is, however, a fairly humdrum theme around which to try to wrap a movie. Barcelona, which is one of the world's great cities, makes a vague and fleeting appearance from time to time but the air pollution precludes sweeping panoramas and the camera work is so uninspired that the street shots could have been done almost anywhere. The dialog is authentically banal and without great camera work there's little to draw us into the movie and carry us along. The overall issue is that there simply isn't much of interest in the tale of two American female tourists who are so wrapped up in their own neuroses that they utterly fail to be changed by their summer experiences. We already know that Americans are, in general, repressed and that they cling to sterile and restrictive "appropriate" norms in order to navigate the strange world that otherwise might overwhelm them. We already know that people who work in Manhattan are, for the most part, acquisitive empty shells. And frankly few of us will buy Allen's thesis that The Great Artist holds the keys to anything other than a barn full of pretentious canvases.

    On the bright side Penelope Cruz does yeoman work as the histrionic Maria Elena and the quite dramatic consumption of cigarettes in the movie must have boosted the share price of at least one tobacco company.

    This is an inoffensive but essentially empty movie in which little happens and less is achieved. If this is all Allen has to say after so long, perhaps it's time to head for the Old Moviemakers' Rest Home.

    ...more info
  • Life in short
    Life around Mount Vesuvius before it erupts is very much the same as after - anxious, nervous, normal. The lives in this 2008 Woody Allen film are in many ways reminiscent of a hot and treacherous Italian volcano, alternating between grand, sensual, sleepy, beauty and fierce, explosive, irrational and uncontrollable eruptions.

    Two women (Vicky and Cristina), the best of friends, sharing an abundance of common interests except for their impression of love, went on a long summer holiday in their friend Judy's home in Barcelona. Cristina, a sceptic of true love, ever willing to take risks in that regard, was also highly lacking in confidence in her talent as a photographer. Vicky, the steadier friend, engaged to marry Doug, had a conventional view of love. She believed that marriage is the consequence of love. Then they became attracted to Juan Antonio, a Spanish artist divorced from a tempestuous and multi-talented woman, Maria Elena, who keeps going back to him. Vicky, Cristina, and Maria Elena (estranged but no stranger) take turns to find sexual love with Juan Antonio, and Cristina even had a dalliance with Maria Elena. We can attribute the episodes of human exuberance to a combination of Spanish air, Spanish wine, and Spanish guitars; but one suspects that humans everywhere are the same. It is not in the air. It's in us. At the end of summer, Vicky and Cristina return to America. They were in the same positions as they left although Vicky had married Doug in the meantime but that seemed so irrelevant. We could see it in Vicky's eyes when they arrived at the airport back home. Everything on the surface seemed unchanged, even the gunshot wound on Vicky's hand was superficial.

    It would only have the mark of general accuracy to describe this film as an existentialist effort. What would be the precise meaning of that? It is like two men agreeing with the statement "What a beautiful day!" The glorious sun would be the same to both of them; the soothing breeze would have been felt by both; and the birdsong enchant them both. Yet how can it be the same beautiful day if it struck the one when he had just got out of love, and the other when he was about to leap into it? Is it honesty or courage that gives us the chance to experience something new, uncomfortable and pleasurable in turn, and ultimately transforming us? That is one question the film invites us to think about. The other is love. Vicky, like most conventional people, believed that marriage is a consequence of love. She discovered on a hot, balmy evening in Barcelona that that was a false premise. It was false because one cannot attribute a consequence to a cause that one cannot know, understand, or even define. Occasionally, one might discover clues to its nature. Juan Antonio described his relationship with Maria Elena thus: "We were meant for each other; we were not meant for each other. It's a contradiction." It applied equally to Vicky and Cristina; and to all of us. Juan Antonio had all the qualities of a libertine and yet we cannot condemn him for it. Was it because all the women saw him as he was and took him as such; and so expose all that lies suppressed in each of us by fear and hypocrisy?

    Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano.
    ...more info
  • Entertaining Movie
    I found Vicky Christina Barcelona an entertaining movie with great acting but a very predictable Woody Allen film. If you like Woody Allen movies, which I do, you are more likely to enjoy the movie. It was described to me as a comedy but I actually found it rather sad. It is worth seeing but not outstanding. ...more info
  • Good Movie
    A fairly good Woody Allen movie. I have to admit I haven't liked much of his work since Annie Hall/Manhattan/Stardust Memories, but this was well-made and moved along well. And, surprisingly, I liked Penelope Cruz's character the best (I'm not a real P.Cruz fan). And it looks terrific, with gorgeous scenics....more info
  • not too bad
    I liked it but felt it was missing something. (real sex scenes perhaps.)
    The scenes were beautiful and makes me want to go to spain and find a little hottie for the summer....more info
  • M¨¦s que un higado feo
    What an insufferable film from an equally insufferable director. Woody Allen has lost whatever humor and cultural significance that he may have once had, if only tenuously. Barcelona, the city and its spirit, are reduced to a Let's Go postcard under his care. Not comical, not provocative, aesthetically conventional, the film essentially smears Europe's most beautiful "ciutat." Let us count its many oozing blemishes: a flat and not effectively ironic narrator (the technique and voice nauseate), a pervasive neurotic New Yaakness (ie. Allen's tired aura) which infects all the actors, including Bardem, and the now tiresome comparison of bohemian and bourgeois values. The actors don't have the humor or presence to hold up such a trite plot. Unintentionally, we Americans, represented here by some truly abyssmal acting, are once again seen as uniformly banal. The scene in which Johannson kvetches ad nauseum on the plane trip back from Oviedo is truly painful. The one saving grace is Penelope Cruz. With a matador's stare she jabs her nymphfetish "guapa" rival, played by Johannson, who can mutter just one foreign phrase, in Chinese: "You think that sounds pretty?" In customary form Cruz sizzles, her hair dishevelled in a tangle of black, a cigarette dangling precariously from lips that speak without speaking. She's the only thing worth watching in this disaster, save the architecture and light of the Catalan capital. ...more info
  • Disappointment
    I am a big fan of Woody Allen; I was looking forward to this movie and I must say it was a big disappointment. It was about nothing and even that was not done in an entertaining way....more info
  • Really REALLY hated this movie
    As the title of this review said, I REALLY hated this movie, the lead actors were boring and unconvincing and the story didn't hold my interest at all. And this is all the time I want to waste reviewing this movie. ...more info
  • Complexity of human relationships
    Woody Allen makes another film set in Europe that explores the complex nature of human relationships. Compared to "Match Point" and "Cassandra's Dream", "Vicky Christina Barcelona" is the weakest one of all.

    For one, the background narrator of the movie is boring and uninspiring, in spite of being necessary. Without him, movie would make no sense since there is no other way to learn about emotional and psychological fragility of its main characters.

    However, the premise of perpetual (love) triangles as a means on maintaining balance in unstable relationships of intellectual (un)equals is just as futile. We cannot but think by the end of the movie that single people are meant to perpetually search for true love, couples are doomed in their boring, predictable bahaviors and love triangles simply cannot last. Not even a cast of Hollywood acting favorites can save this film....more info
  • Vicky Cristina Barselona
    I selected Penelope Cruz when I was completing a form in "OscarMania" because "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" was nominated in her native land, because she's one of the my movie favourite artistes, because she's loved with our advertisers, because she likes... to look in telescope.

    It's false when I'll say I like to watch "tv soap opera". To seat and look into the box day after day isn't my nature. Concerning movie. The one turned out like a part of some "tv soap opera". But I am not falling into a faint because, at the same time, this movie showed how it isn't advisable to travel for the sake of it.

    General impression of movie must hasn't been main thing for each single artist. Main thing for artist is whether a role is performed, whether a role is subperformed or a role is overdone. Using correctly this approach a role itself will search such artist. There is nothing for it but to select.
    ...more info
  • Intriguing but pointless
    I thought this movie was well-paced and that the dialogue was interesting and quirky, but somehow it felt lacking in substance by the end. To be sure all of the actors turned out great performances, especially Penelope Cruz, and the eye candy of Barcelona and Oviedo, not to mention the sultry, fun music, was exciting. But the actual plot is so thin and the character development so lacking, that once I reached the end I felt like there was nothing to carry away from this film.

    Vicky and Cristina both face separate problems when it comes to romance. Cristina wants someone to settle with. Vicky wants someone to ignite her passion, which she isn't getting from her nice but dull fiance. Both of them think they might find solutions to their problems with the refreshing, exotic Juan Antonio, but neither of them can because they can't change themselves. The change of scenery can't change their habits in dealing with romance. Maria Elena and Juan Antonio have the passion, but not the stability. And the film is pervaded with the sense that they will never find that quality, and are shackled to a kind of half-love.

    It seems like Woody Allen is critiquing all forms of romantic relationships as ultimately unsatisfying if not outright doomed to failure, and I found this to be cynical and unfair. Vicky and Cristina seem to go through a series of potentially life-altering experiences, but in the end they are the same as they were before they came to Barcelona, except maybe a little unhappier. It seems like a terrible waste of opportunity. And without question, Maria Elena and Juan Antonio don't develop at all, and you just know that they will continue on as they always have.

    And I couldn't help but feel that the narration was in place because the feelings and actions of the characters weren't relatable enough without it, and that's not good, especially in a film; either not enough work went into showing, or else there was little to show in the first place. I think it was a little of both in this case.

    This movie was saved by a seductive sensory experience of Catalonia, but it couldn't quite make up for the lackluster story or the static characters. Any deep revelations it tried to make were muddled and fell flat. The only thing this movie leaves you with is that relationships fail and people are too complicated to work through it. To sum it up with a line from Juan Antonio: "Love is so transient." That's just not true, but the characters will apparently never understand that. Even if they do see that they have to reconcile the problems within themselves before they can succeed in love and life, they won't try. And I didn't find that inspiring or even worthy of sympathy.
    ...more info
  • vicky cristina barcelona
    If I had not known that this was directed by Woody Allen, I would have quickly come to that conclusion because every person with more than one line of dialogue walked, talked, gestured, and whined their way through the entire movie. I am constantly amazed at how leading talent will consent to be part of such poor stories. I suppose that performers only make money when they are performing. No matter how well they play their parts, they are all too often remembered as participants of waste in time, money, film, and the potential to have accepted a more worthwhile role and film....more info
  • Superb
    Amazing Blu-ray.
    The film and story are so good you feel like flying right away to Barcelona and meet these characters..... Bravo Woddy Allen....more info
  • Looking at Life Without Rose-Colored Glasses
    Before I saw this film I wondered about the strange title: Vicky, Cristina Barcelona. The title refers to two young American women, Vicki (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johanssen), lifelong friends who travel together to Barcelona to spend a summer of discovery. Vicki, engaged to a straight as an arrow, tightly controlled young corporate executive, is a graduate student researching "Catalan Identity". Cristina, more free-wheeling and open to life's opportunities, is in search of adventure and her own identity.

    They meet an uninhibited, passionate artist (Javier Bardem), who ultimately seduces them both and exposes them to a culture, lifestyle and thinking that has profound impacts on their lives and dreams. Penelope Cruz as the artist's ex-wife, Maria Elena, is exceptional as an artist driven by wild passionate moods, unable to live with or without her ex-husband.

    Like most of Woody Allen's films, this is a story about angst, insecurity and relationships. It is one of his best and the background of Barcelona is magnificent. Oddly, all the women reminded me of different aspects of Mia Farrow, Woody's ex-wife and muse who starred in so many of his films. I could almost see or hear her in each female role.

    One of the things I enjoyed most about this film was the narration. Allen has used this technique successfully before and it enhanced this film as well. It is as though someone is reading a story to you, yet the Director is providing the necessary visual images. This is neither a happy or sad film but rather a realistic view and acceptance of life without rose colored glasses.

    ...more info
  • From Barcelona with love!
    The first serious filmmaker who paid full attention around the complex feminine world was Ingmar Bergman ("The silence" and "Persona"), but when Robert Bresson threw his hat to arena with Mouchette (1967), we should wait for Francois Truffaut, Luis Bunuel, Lina Wertmuller, Liliana Cavani The Von Trotta sisters, Percy Aldon and Rainer Fassbinder during the seventies and eighties the feminine affections resided in Europe as the main gravity creative center. But since the middle eighties, (since Fassbinder's death) the old continent seemed to have given up as main creative exponent (until the successful arrival of "The scent of green papaya" and "Amelie") and since then only a fist of selected films have dealt with the emotional feminine universe. As a matter of fact, after the extraordinary Robert Van Ackeren's "The woman in flames"(1984), the American cinema has turned its attention around the countless narrative possibilities of this genre. We could cite Norman Jewison's "Moonstruck" (1987), Donald Petrie's "Mystic pizza", (1988), Herbert Ross' "Steel magnolias" (1989), Rob Reiner's "Misery" (1990)", Ridley Scott's "Thelma and Louise" (1991) and " Paul Verhoven "Basic instinct" (1992). But besides, it would be convenient to remark : in South America there were two names of egregious significance: the unforgettable Maria Luisa Bamberg's "Camila", who passed away in 1992 and the Venezuelan Fina Torres (Oriana our maxim awarded film in Cannes). Both of them explored the feminine nostalgia from different perspectives.

    Allen has bet again for this distant and European gaze project. The first release was "Match Point". A worthy and honest proposal, that intends to give birth a new and warm breadth to a variegated crowd of commonplaces in his beloved and admired NYC.

    "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is far to be an original proposal. After having explored the conflictive and tempestuous relation in "Mighty Aphrodite" with Mira Sorvino (who coincidentally won the Academy Award as best Supporting Actress) Woody Allen seems to have been inspired by two almost forgotten Truffaut's films "Two English girls" (1972) and Ken Russell's "Women in love" (1970) and a more recent Romantic comedy starred by Diane Lane, "Under the Tuscan sun (2003)."

    So he retells a contemporary amorous quartet. An underground painter (Javier Bardem) (signed by a dark affair with her conflictive couple; Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz)) establishes direct contact with two North American girls the alluring Cristina (Scarlet Johansson) a girl who really knows what she doesn't want, a liberal and free thinker, avid to experience in own flesh the Spanish passion far beyond the architecture and the guitar, a modern Aphrodite and her friend Vicky, the mother Goddess who is committed with her North American fianc¨¦e.

    This painter is not only a self biographical depiction of his director ; besides epitomizes the ancestral seduction codes and arouses in both of them the mysterious "taste of the forbidden". In last instance, Allen once more, carves in relief the impossibility for reaching the happiness through the love, due every one of us - and specially the complex feminine universe - expects of this feeling. The arresting landscapes work out and invite as silent background in which the relation of power and self destructive possession, the fascination for the exotic and the breakthrough of the quotidian find in Maria Elena, Cristina and Vicky an interesting but unexpected cocktail of unthinkable passions and a web of questions without answers.

    The last shot of the film is hardly eloquent. Those missing gazes of both of them talk by themselves.


    ...more info
  • Barcelona: The Third Ingredient
    In "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", Woody Allen explores yet another variation on his central theme of complex sexual relationships, but this time through the lens of the tourist's camera. The tourist is Scarlett Johansson in her role as the restless Cristina, who has no idea what, exactly, she is compulsively seeking through the lens of her digital camera (Metaphorically, she begins to catch a glimpse of it only after she exchanges digital for film.). Both Cristina and her intellectual best friend, Vicky (Rebecca Hall), arrive in Barcelona, where they are quickly captivated by the attentions of an aspiring artist (Javier Bardem), who is encumbered by baggage--the baggage in question being his suicidal/homicidal wife, Maria Elena (played to the hilt by Penelope Cruz).

    Through the splendid cinematography of Javier Aguirresarobe, Allen makes it evident that the two friends are seduced as much by the spell of Spain in general--with its "gently weeping" guitars, midnight tapas and golden wines--and Barcelona in particular--with its magnificent art and architecture, ingredients that render the scenario, which in a more mundane setting would seem improbable, plausible. In other words, the city--the third ingredient of the title--works its magic both on characters and viewers, who are able to suspend their disbelief as one tends to do when actually traveling to the enchanting cities of southern Europe. Allen demonstrates this proposition with Vicky's husband and his friends who discuss nothing but computers and business affairs while her thoughts drift away with the notes of a classical Spanish guitar.

    Some reviewers have criticized the voice-over, but as far as I'm concerned, this straightforward device lent the film an old-fashioned charm. Others have criticized the intrusion of Woody Allen's narrative voice into the dialogue. And yes, there certainly are lines that one can "hear" Woody Allen reciting, but such intrusions made the film all the more enjoyable for me; and I suppose that the enjoyment of this film will depend on whether one likes Woody Allen's humor, or not. To some it may seem like the same old schtick; to others [as in the case of his title "Vicky Cristina"], Allen's idiosyncratic brand of humor represents the third ingredient without which his film would not seem complete....more info
  • Wonderful movie
    This film was excellent. I loved the pacing of the story, as well as the unpredictability of it. I was left guessing for the majority of the movie and loved every minute of it. The characters were relatable, the emotions were believable and the stories pulled from the diaries of women all over the world. Beautifully shot, it gives some amazing views of Spain. Rent it!...more info
  • I hate Woody Allen anything
    I rented this movie not knowing it was directed by Woody Allen. I will from now on make sure I look at who directed the movies I get. This is an extremely tedious slow moving movie as in the usual style of WA's movies. Painful to watch and listen to, never never never again, if I could have given it a -1 star I sure would have. The only thing that could have made this movie suck anymore would be to have WA's voice over or staring in it himself....more info
  • The Lives of vain, yet rather dull people
    Two American girls go to Barcelona, both behave in different, but equally silly, ways while attempting to "find themselves". Neither do manage to learn very much at all, least of all the one supposedly doing post-graduate research on Catalan culture, - she seems to do no study either, which might help. They fall victim to a smouldering hulk, and his over the top ex-Wife. (This role well played by Ms Cruz).

    If this plot reminds you somewhat of Henry James, you might choose one of his novels rather than this very lame, unfunny and sad little film. Alternatively, go to the back catalogue of Mr Allen if you seek amusement....more info
  • A fairly well-told, but kind of sick, story
    Under the veneer of a tale of interwoven relationships, this is an attempt to glorify dysfunctional and self-destructive behavior at the expense of what one of the actors calls "puritanical values". Characters that live a traditional lifestyle are portrayed as empty and vapid, while those engaging in spurious casual relationships are presented as exciting and self-fulfilled. Despite this, things do not go well for the 'wild ones'. My suspicion is that in real life, things would have gone even more badly.

    Penelope Cruz does a wonderful acting job as the psychotic ex-wife; Javier Bardem does nearly as well as the contemporary Casanova. I don't get the point of Scarlet Johansson, but maybe that's just me. Bottom line - it kept my attention for the duration, despite 'chick-flicks' not being my usual genre. But the movie itself, like several of its key characters, seemed kind of dysfunctional....more info
  • Woody does Almodovar, Sort of
    It's nice to see Woody shooting in an exotic setting, but there's little here of Barcelona proper aside from a brief sampling of Gaudi architecture and a scenic street/alleyway. Several scenes appear to be of the Rambla, but they are tight shots, not long shots, so one does not have the full effect. That is not to say that the film is not beautiful. It is simply not an extended, loving portrait of Barcelona. That is somewhat surprising, since the film is part 'Americans Abroad' in the sun, getting into romantic situations they would otherwise avoid and part Almodovar, with passionate lovers fondling one another one moment and shooting at one another the next. The 'Americans Abroad' theme dominates. Its separate scenes are linked by an ongoing voiceover which I found to be intrusive and inauthentic. The film comes alive when Penelope Cruz enters, but the film lacks the exquisite script, urgency and momentum that one expects from Almodovar. Sorry, as Simon Cowell would say, but this was slow, very slow....more info
  • Over-hyped
    All I can say to those who haven't seen this movie is: Don't bother. I don't think I'd say its awful, it's just trivial and inconsequential. I am a fan of Bardem, Cruz and Johansen, but their performances didn't redeem this. The voiceover was annoying and the cinematography looked like a home movie, and totally failed to capture the beauty of Barcelona. Except for the occasional shot of Parc Guell or Sagrada Familia, it might have just as easily been Los Angeles. And if you think its gonna be erotic, think again....more info
  • The Whole is Greater than the Part Sum
    With Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen has created yet another drop-the-viewer-in-the-middle-of-someone's-life story. I like it.

    If nothing else, there's much to love about the setting of the story. I love Barcelona...lot's of fond memories.

    But back to the movie. With a cast of strange and engaging characters (though only superficially), it's easy to let the light storyline string you along. The extent to which we come to know each of the characters is limited to the voice over narration of following each. Of the actors, Penelope Cruz was superb, but I love most anything she's in.

    Allen doesn't really make any effort to delve into the real implications of the choices each of these people make, but that didn't bother me as such. I felt like I was reading a dime-store pulp book and perhaps it's the guilty pleasure feeling I got from watching this movie that made it so fun in the end....more info
  • Disappointing
    I had heard many good things about Vicky Cristina Barcelona, that it was Woody Allen's best film in a long time. I also looked forward to seeing more of Rebecca Hall, who was outstanding in Frost/Nixon.

    Sadly, the film is very disappointing. The premise is somewhat ridiculous, with two American women in Barcelona being crudely propositioned at a restaurant by a moody Spanish painter with a "past." Soon they're in a private jet with him for a little interlude in a quiet town.

    The character Cristina (Scarlett Johannson) is a scatterbrained neurotic who will sleep with anyone who gives her attention, so it's plausible she would fall for the Spaniard's tired line. But it's absolutely incredible that the level-headed, and engaged, Vicky (Hall) would hit the mattress with him. Is Vicky so bored by her one-dimensional husband-to-be that she'll bed a total stranger? Is this a "what happens in Barcelona stays in Barcelona" scenario?

    As to Penelope Cruz's performance as the painter's estranged and suicidal-homicidal wife, it's OK, but it's nowhere near the stellar acting of Amy Adams or Viola Davis of Doubt. Both ladies were robbed at Oscar time this year.
    ...more info
  • Not Annie Hall but Close....
    Even bad Woody Allen is better than almost anyone else's good stuff. He is and has been our only truly world class auteur (ok, Scorsese too). He is quite simply our Ingmar Bergman and as such deserves all the praise he gets and then some.From the low farce and Catskill schtick of Bananas and the Sex comedies through the darkness of Crimes, Hannah and Her Sisters and Manhatten, no one in American cinema has the range of Woody.While I liked Matchpoint I thought it finally a Woody gimmick piece not unlike Purple Rose of Cairo (which I really loved anyway) and Broadway Danny Rose. But this latest piece Vicky Christina Barcelona was truly an exercise in modern existential loneliness and isolation. It isn't so much about Henry James' lost Americans abroad as it is about how none of us can find the happiness we seek even when it is there for the taking. Sartre says, "Each man must undergo his own death" and for all the laughs and romance VCB is finally about the aloneness that is the human condtion and even when we are surrounded by beautiful music and beautiful art we will finally go to the airport in search of the unhappiness we so richly deserve.Hats off Woody and folks rent or buy.....it's a better night than you'll get with the current Hollywood movies about 30 something men playing video games while thinking about the Swim Suit issue. An adult movie for adults. Now that's a concept....more info
  • Good date movie, but every character talks like Woody Allen
    I won't delve into the plot, acting, scenery, editing and everything else that constitutes a movie. Plenty other reviewers do that. This movie didn't have to be believable (the grad student who knows little Spanish and spends no time in the library) or particularly witty (wow, did a character actually use the phrase "turgid argument about the categorical imperative"?)....I was just irritated that every character sounded like Woody Allen! Whiney, self-absorbed, quick to moralize about everything objectionable....could the man get out in the real world and listen to how other people talk? Heck, even reading a book by Richard Price might help him.......more info
  • Nice scenery
    We usually like Woody Allen. But this movie lacked a point. I would say it was a waste of talent but it was the type of movie that made me wonder if the actors WERE talented. Scarlett Johansson always plays a cool, detached character and she was no different here. She is good to look at but there was no passion. Javier Bardem is an attractive actor but his characters are easy to dislike. And there was no chemistry between most of them. The Americans in this film are all archetypal. Penelope Cruz deserved her award; she added a much-needed spark. But this film went nowhere. And to think I used to be annoyed when English teachers would say, "What is the purpose of this story?"

    If one cannot really like ANY of the characters, it is very hard to like a film. I don't like to accuse the truly great Woody Allen of self-indulgence but I think here he needs focus. The photography aspect (Cristina's) could have and should have gone somewhere. I got the feeling that this was an old script, resurrected. It was not, unless it came from the bottom of the writer's trunk, but it was anachronistic.

    The scenery was delightful. Wish there had been even more Gaudi.

    So I'll give it two stars....more info
  • Always speak English in front of HER!
    The narration gives me a feeling I'm watching a home movie of a friend touring Spain. The dialogue of Christy and Vicky is very cold, analytical, and underplays the artist-playboy (Bardem) and his hot-tempered ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) for some laughs. The film backfires though by downplaying the bedroom scenes between him and the two girls. Christy also decides after a hot affair with both Bardem and Cruz to split up with them and for twenty minutes we do not know what happened to her. Is the divorcee really crazy? If you had a husband chasing all those girls wouldn't you consider injury or murder? And so the ending did wake me up. While not great Woody, it was a nice effort. Mia Farrow, sleep well wherever you are. Soon Yi, please wake Woody up. This film was not made on one of his viagra days....more info
  • Complete waste of time and money
    A totally plot-less and pointless movie with shallow characters and ridiculous dialogue. I rented this to watch with my wife because we love Woody Allen and she loves romantic comedies, but this film was a complete disappointment. This was nothing more than a tedious "art film" lacking the art. It was neither sexy or poignant or sensitive or even fun.

    When the movie ended we just looked at each other and said "what the hell was that?".

    One of the worst movies we've seen in many years....more info
  • Cruz=10 Film=1
    Aside from Cruz' terrific performance, the film is boring, boring, boring and ultimately a "shaggy dog story." Just about worthless...more info
  • ~Vicky Cristina Barcelona~
    Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is a film by writer/director Woody Allen. This film is a romantic comedy that explores that notion of love; and why love is so difficult to define. Unlike many of Woody Allen's films, this film is less of a comedy and more of an romantic exploration documenting
    the personal difficulties that can prevent one from loving deeply and ultimately from finding true love. Can lust,override love and sex? Does any of these three elements(sex, love, lust) weigh more than the other?

    The two main characters, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two best friends who come to Barcelona for a summer of exploration and self discovery. Both Vicky and Cristina have two very different views on love. Vicky appeared to be the more stable, predictable, the "low risk" type of women who likes to plan her life out. While Cristina, more impulsive and enjoys the challenges and complexity of love and even craves the drama involved in passionate love affairs. The two women met artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) and their
    definition of love was soon challenged and perhaps changed.

    Vicky, appeared to be the most rational, and was at first reluctant to give into Juan Antonio's Spanish charm. She didn't even appear to want to give him the time of day. However, Vicky became the first of the best friends to become seduced by Juan Antonio's Spanish masculine
    charm, more quicker than her best friend Cristina. And despite her reservations which included her being engaged to be married, Vicky ended up having a secret sexual encounter with Juan Antonio. Vicky, overwhelmed
    and deeply infatuated with Juan Antonio failed to disclose to Cristina that she had sex with Juan Antonio.

    Christina also fell deeply in love with Juan Antonio and moved in with him for the summer. Cristina explored her sexuality with Juan Antonio. Juan Antonio's ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz), moved into Juan Antonio's home shortly afterwards. The trio had an "open sexual
    relationship" and become lovers. Cristina, realized that she enjoyed the love and the sexual intimacy of both a man and woman. This experience taught her more about herself and especially her own expectations of love.

    Although, at the end she still had uncertainty about what she truly wanted when it came to love, Cristina, by the end of the summer ended her love affair with Juan Antonio and Maria Elena and once again was in search of what she desired in love.

    She knew what she didn't want, but just didn't know what she really wanted when it came to love.

    What makes this film interesting is the reflective male narrator who narrates the characters feelings, actions and desires throughout the movie. I was not bothered by this all of the time, but at times I found his narrative rather dry and distracting. The cinematography of the film was good. The overall erotic appeal of the movie could have offered more. There were no nudity in the sex scenes. But there were
    definitely some delectable and loving kissing scenes which included loving gestures exchanged between Cristina and Maria Elena during their female on female "love encounters."

    If you are a Woody Allen fan you will love this film. I applaud him for being bold enough to make a film that did a great job in exploring love, sex and lust. And in the end it makes one think about which of the three weighs more than the other.

    Four Stars Out of Five

    Reviewed by Natasha Brooks, editor-in-chief,
    Bare Back Magazine
    Fairy Tales Can Come True: The Very Best Erotic Fairy Tales
    ...more info
  • Ummm, It Didn't Suck..But Okay!!
    With the way that this movie was tauted during this past
    awards season, I thought I was about to discover a hidden gem
    that was going to live up to all the hype!
    Well, all I can say is that this movie didn't suck,
    but in no way was it better than "The Changeling" or
    "Benjamin Button", which both were great movies that completely
    got dissed this year! I liked the craziness of the characters,
    liked Javier Bardeem and Penelope Cruz's performances..
    I completely got it, but still felt like I could've had a V8!!
    This was another movie (like the miniscule
    "Rachel Getting Married" or "Revolutionary Road")
    that got way more hollywood machine hype
    than it actually deserved!
    This seemed like that kind of elitist artsy-fartsy year
    in Hollywood where they picked obscure & esoteric movies
    over real solid performances. This shouldn't have even been
    in a category at the Golden Globes or The Oscars!
    Just my humble opinion.
    This movie gets 3 stars from me because it is an
    interesting renter, but not strong enough that I would
    add it to my DVD collection.
    Well, all I have to say is "The Wrestler" and
    "Slumdog Millionaire" better be good or I'm gonna be pissed! ...more info
  • I love this film!
    It's a thorough delight. Scarlett Johansson said in an interview that working on this film with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz was even more fun because they came to the set having spent a lot of time improvising together and developing their problematic film relationship. The result is more fun than a circus: Bardem and Cruz are radioactive on the screen, teasing up the tension and riding it like a pair of daredevil surfers on a cresting wave. Johansson contributes the missing ingredient to the film just as to the fictional relationship, nevertheless sliding through the thorny plot as if Teflon-coated. Rebecca Hall and Bardem's continuing game of "No, I mean maybe" & "Why are you lying?" creates an undercurrent of unease throughout the film, and the sly male voice-over is delightful. I see something new in this film every time I watch it. And, the musical score is wonderful. We all want to go to Barcelona now....more info
  • Pshhh. Man-whore~
    Let me start with saying that, despite the overall premesis of the movie which I found rather degrading, unrealistic, and a bit confusing, I actually found the acting to be decent(well . .they made implausible personas almost seem plausible . .almost) Second of all, I must admit that I did not the entire movie . . .I friggin LEFT after awhile (I stayed for most of it as it turned out....)...I just couldn't take it anymore. The main dude, the Spanish "artist" is pretty much is a hedonist aka "man-whore" aka "man who is self indulgent, cares only about his own pleasure, and only gives vague facades of actual caring...

    Main characters I shall mention:
    *the main guy whathisface aka the "artist" or "man-whore" [I apologize if this word offends you in any way but it's true....]
    *the main guy's ex-wife aka "the bipolar chick" (this is Penelope Cruz' role that was nominated for an Oscar . . .I can't remember if she won or not...)
    *Cristina - American girl who gets involved with the main guy aka "the wild child" (played by Scarlett Johannson)
    *Vicky - American girl who also gets involved with main guy even though she's got a "boring" American boyfriend at home (I felt so sorry for that dude) . . .what makes it interesting is she's introduced as the "prude" of the two American girls . . .yet she still gets with the artist... Lord knows why . . .he never actually seemed that interesting to me throughout the movie . . .It's the girls and their personas that really made the movie at least slightly tolerable if you ask me)

    Basic summary:
    *Artist meets with two American girls and they "bond"/ he seduces them/wins them over/whatever and basically, they both end up sleeping him at different times . . .I wasn't surprised that Cristina did, but the fact that Vicky's character suddenly did a 360 for a brief moment (in that she slept with the artist) confused me . . .Why would you sleep with a guy who's involved with your good friend and who also has a crazy knife-weilding ex-wife with whom he as a love-hate relationship with? I guess it's because the guy's just "that" wonderful . . . .And there's drama, drama, and more drama until the very open-ended finish of the movie . . .Seriously, it leaves either confused, flustered, or hungry for passion that you can't ever get . . .Does anyone /really/ want any of those? I would say more but I don't really want to ruin anything for the (desparate) souls who want to actually put themselves through this tragedy (at least I think it's a tragedy .. with a tad bit of comedy that you kinda have to dig for or be in the mood for..) . .. Maybe I'm a prude for not liking this film, so I suppose if you like the intensely wild, free, and erotic lifestyle then maybe you'd be more open to this movie than be . .. I don't know . .maybe you should watch the movie yourself instead of basing your opinions on others' reviews [sorry if I sounded harsh . . . I mean . .I'm just saying that because, personally, I've loved a lot of movies that other people hated and I've hated a lot of movies that others have loved . . .Everybody has different tastes...]

    Honestly,I wouldn't waste your time with this movie . .There many other Oscar nominated "fish" in the "sea" (Personally, I enjoyed Milk and Slumdog Millionaire . . .I like Australia too, but I can't remember if it was nominated for any type of Oscar or not) . . .

    If You're looking for a good Scarlett Johannson movie I'd suggest the Island . . . .

    *If You're looking for a good Penelope Cruz movie (though I did find her role rather "entertaining" in this movie) I'd suggest Volver [Volver is in Spanish by the way] or Blow

    *As for Rebecca Hall (Vicky), I haven't seen any of the other movies with her . .same goes for Javier Bardem (the artist) . . . though I've been meaning to see "No Country for Old Men" for awhile now . . .

    *Looking for a good Woody Allen movie (director)? Well to be honest, this is the only movie of his I've seen . . .I think . . .

    P.S.: This movie did make Spain look beautiful though . .not that I ever doubted that Spain was beautiful.......more info
  • Woody Allen On Tour
    I have been reviewing Woody Allen productions in this space over the past year or so. I have highly rated such old Woody classics as "Annie Hall, "Manhattan" and "Radio Days", those memorable films with New York City its trials, tribulations and traumas as an epicenter. I have also given mixed reviews to some of his later productions like "Manhattan Mystery" and others based in other geographic locales ("Purple Rose Of Cairo", etc.). I was, however, fully prepared to fulsomely praise the film under review, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", after having heard the hype about Penelope Cruz's performance as, Maria Elena, the talented estranged artsy wife of the central male character, Juan Antonia (Javier Bardem), a Spanish avant guarde artist. After viewing the film Ms. Cruz's performance was certainly Oscar-worthy. Nevertheless the overall production falls flat. And here is why.

    Woody Allen has created an important cinematic niche for himself as a performer, director, writer and producer in that netherworld of the alienated modern urbanite, especially of distracted women unsure of their place in the world and their ability to navigate it with (or without) a man. The classic examples of such angst and confusion were various film vehicles created for Diane Keaton ("Annie Hall") Mia Farrow ("Broadway Danny Rose", "Stardust Memories") and along the way Woody himself, his doubts and his inhibitions (in about six billion of his films starting with "Take The Money And Run"). Here Woody has gathered the old familiar concerns about sexual inhibitions, the vacuity of upper middle class suburban life, the eternal problems with the opposite sex and various social conventions like bisexuality, adultery, threesomes and the like. All very familiar Woody material, although not always set in Barcelona.

    With the above-mentioned exception of Ms. Cruz the other characters are Woody's stock and trade of late: young woman with various personal and social problems, with or without Woody as conduit. The truly beautiful and talented Scarlett Johansson is wooden here as Cristina. The lesser known actress, Rebecca Hall, playing Vicky's role is the same. In the end I did not care whether the two women (or three, if we include Ms. Cruz) got their issues resolved, or not. That is not a good sign in a Woody Allen film where in earlier, better films , if nothing else, we are at least left wondering about their fates. Woody, come back to your New York hearth and home with all its tangled energies, excitement, enigmas and hangups. There you are "king of the hill". Leave Europe for the kids.

    ...more info
  • Mixed feelings
    First of all, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Bohemian life style has always fascinated me. It was beautifully filmed on fantastic location; acting was mostly good, at least Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem delivered; it was fast-paced and never boring.

    However it left me thinking: So what? It seems both Vicky and Christina (as well as everybody else in the story)after being through the events of the movie, came out completely untouched by them. Vicky remained pragmatic and unable to do anything drastic to change her life, Christina was still unsatisfied and unsure about what she wanted in hers.

    So what was the point of all this? ...more info
  • Not for me
    Gal pals Vicky and Cristina go to Barcelona for the summer where they are immediately propositioned by an artist. They both become enamored of him and then his ex-wife comes back into his life.

    I really hated this movie. I couldn't relate to or understand any of the characters and found their lack of morals sad and off-putting. Rebecca Hall was good as Vicky, but Scarlett Johansson wasn't believable at all as Cristina. She looked like she was just sleepwalking through the movie, adlibbing her lines without emotion. As the artist, Javier Bardem was supposed to be completely irresistible, but he didn't appeal to me at all. Penelope Cruz had a small part as the artist's ex-wife; she was exciting and passionate and I wish her part had been bigger.

    Though the movie is all about sex, it was tedious and distasteful. It wasn't funny enough to be a comedy and it lacked any truly touching moments. The DVD has no extras. All in all, a disappointment....more info
  • Cruz' performance is worthy of award, but it's Rebecca Hall's performance that is the true knockout
    Penelope Cruz might have won the Oscar for her brief but explosive performance, but it's Rebecca Hall that dominates this film. Having seen it, I'm stunned more people aren't talking about her performance. It is nothing less than brilliant, shaded with complex nuances and emotions right down to the last fade-out scene with the anguished look on her face as she walks away from her what-might-have-been with Javier Bardem's character. Of course, the excellence of her performance is thrown into greater relief by the near-in comparison with Scarlett Johansson. Woody Allen is obviously smitten; many of the rest of us...not so much.

    I'm not a great fan of Allen, but he's in top form here. I especially loved the way that the initial presence of Bardem hovered off-screen while the female characters whispered excitedly and furtively about him. You think: this guy better be something else. When he's first shown - wordlessly - my wife gasped.

    The same with Allen's direction of Cruz's appearance: 45 minutes into a move clocked in at a tidy 1 hour 38 minutes, the divine Ms. P had yet to make an appearance. I thought to myself "Wow, she must come into this film like a ball of fire." Indeed. For those of us used to Cruz' knockout performances in her native tongue (see Pedro Almod¨®var's Volver foremost), it's wonderful to see her ability on display in an English language film.

    By the way, the sleeve blurb on my rented copy described Cruz' character as "insanely jealous" about her ex-husband (Bardem). Viewers will agree: she's not insanely jealous, just flat-out insane.

    One additional observation: parts of Christopher Evan Welch's voice-over could serve as a commercial for Spain. The country itself is like a fifth main character in the film. ...more info
  • Another Hypersexual Film By Woody Allen
    It's official: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) is the luckiest man/actor on the planet! I mean, this guy gets to make out with three of the most gorgeous women acting today. Forget that one of them is his current girlfriend (Penelope Cruz). He also got down with hottie Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) and ultimate hottie Scarlett Johansson (Match Point). Regardless of how I felt about the rest of the film, there was plenty of eye-candy for guys. And those ladies who think Javier isn't too shabby himself, well, there's that, too.

    But let me explain why I'm talking about how good-looking these folks are on-screen and why I started my review in such an unabashed way. Director Woody Allen is well-known for his love of beautiful people. Everything from Sleeper to Match Point has been sexually charged, to say the least. But his take on relationships is exceptionally skewed toward the hyper-sexual, and that's even more true here. Some might compare this to his private life, but I'll leave that alone ...for now.

    ***CONTAINS SPOILERS***

    This time we have two women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) on vacation in Barcelona, Spain. The two are good friends and Vicky (Hall) is taking a break in preparation for marriage to Doug (Chris Messina), whom she leaves back in the States. Cristina isn't even close to being ready for marriage, and rips through relationships like a laundry woman through sheets. Then the two ladies meet Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) who approaches them with a unique proposal: fly away with him to his house in the north and have sex with him; both of them. At the same time, perhaps. This doesn't surprise Vicky, who immediately labels him a troll with artistic aspirations. But Cristina is intrigued by his forwardness, and the two ladies go with him to his beautiful Spanish home. But Cristina gets sick after eating some bad food, which leaves Vicky and Juan Antonio together, and opposite sparks fly. Then, after Cristina gets better, Juan Antonio takes her into his bed, too. But then a phone call in the middle of the night leads to Juan Antonio's ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz), coming to stay with them after a suicide attempt. Cristina and Juan become closer. His ex-wife and Cristina become closer. Juan Antonio and his ex-wife reignite their passions ...with Cristina getting involved with both of them, if you know what I mean.

    Meanwhile, Vicky is struggling to deal with her feelings on the night when she weakened and had sex with Juan Antonio. She begins questioning whether she's ready for marriage. But then Dough, her fianc¨¦, comes to Spain with the option to get married there before returning to the States and "doing it up right."

    ***END SPOILERS***

    There are quite a few twists and turns in the multiple relationships that wind and unwind themselves. And that is what made most of the story interesting (that and the beautiful people surrounded by the beauty of Barcelona). So you can see why I started my review the way I did. It's mainly about how sexually charged relationships can change (or maybe not change) who we are. Which brings me to my next point: Penelope Cruz's Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress. I'm not gonna take anything away from her. She did a fine job. But she wasn't on-screen very much. Personally, I think Rebecca Hall got gypped during the Oscar's. Her battles for her emotional stability were what kept me watching, not Penelope Cruz. Hall's character was so conflicted that I could empathize with her. While Cruz's character only made me laugh because she seemed almost like a caricature.

    Still, it's an interesting film to watch. But it's really just another Woody Allen sex-take on relationships....more info
  • You can't always want what you get.
    Woody Allen has produced an excellent film for thinking adults in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I say this because he is able to capture much of the paradox of relationships as two young women in their 20s begin to explore what they want from life and from their relationships.

    The character of Vicky, played wonderfully by Rebecca Hall, is a young woman who plays it safe most of the time. However a short and unexpected fling with artist Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem, opens up emotional doors for her that she can't close with her rational mind. Vicky and her good friend Cristina are staying at the home of Vicki's family friends, where Vicky accidentally sees the wife in the embrace of her Spanish lover. Patricia Clarkson plays the middle aged woman who tries to explain to Vicky why she has taken a lover and then begins to take the role of advisor to Vicky so that Vicky doesn't make the same mistake of marriage for stability rather than passion.

    Cristina on the other hand moves in with the artist and his mentally unstable wife, Maria Elena, played by Penelope Cruz. Despite all the freedom, drama and sex, in the end Cristina sadly learns that they are a highly dependent couple, passionate about each other, but so unstable that they can not maintain a solid relationships.

    In the end we might expect Vicky to learn from her experiences with Juan Antonio and drop her wealthy privileged boyfriend, Doug. Or we might expect Cristina to learn some lessons about dependency and stability from living in a 3-way relationship with Juan Antonio and Maria Elena. But this is a Woody Allen film and behind the wry humor Woody is a wise philosopher. For in the end we can only learn from our own mistakes and unfortunately we often have to make the same mistakes repeatedly before our foolish hearts get a clue.

    This is excellent film making. The film is warm and sunny and often shot outdoors, exploring the Catalan landscape. The architecture of Gaudi pops up here and there in scenes in Parc Guell or Sagrada Familia.

    All the actors were in top form with Rebecca Hall emerging to the top with a subtle performance of a naive and insecure young woman playing the role of a determined and stable woman. Scarlett Johansson is excellent as the risk taking young woman who gradually understands that she is the third party to a highly dynamic mutually dependent relationship which really holds no future for her. Javier Bardem is very good as an intelligent, intuitive, man who finds he can't live in peace with his soul mate. Penelope Cruz is superb as a volatile dramatic creative woman who struggles against her own dependency needs. Last of all, Patricia Clarkson is excellent as the older woman who has been there and done that and now wishes that others would not make the same mistakes.


    ...more info
  • BORING!!!
    All I can say is this was a really boring and dumb movie. If I could give zero stars, I would. I am glad I borrowed it from the library, so I didn't spend any money on it. I like some of Woody Allen's stuff, but this was a pointless film....more info
  • Comic and Sombre Blend
    This is a very enjoyable movie. Woody Allen has a real ability to dream up crazy story lines and weave all their sub-plots into a stylish and entertaining whole. Vicky Christina Barcelona is no exception. While some reviewers found this movie `sombre' in fact I laughed a lot, much more than in `Match Point' for example, but there is no doubt that Woody Allen has a dark side. I get the feeling whenever I watch a film of his that underneath it all there is something unhealthy going on. This is well disguised by the humour but pessimism and sexual hang-ups as well as genius blend in with this very interesting, very flawed and very brilliant director....more info
  • Unsatisfying
    Sometimes filming a movie in an exotic locale with artists, poets, love triangles and red cars end up being just a smutty collection of artists and poets in an exotic locale that drive red cars. This film was very unsatisfying for me. First of, after having visited Barcelona a number of times many years ago, I was looking forward to a good movie about the city, but the Barcelona scenes seemed to be edited to show as little of the city as possible. Second, as a big fan of Penelope Cruz's movies, I expected great things only to find out that she is totally unconvincing in this movie. The scenes of her as a painter and taking pictures are painful to watch. I would say there are really only a couple of bright spots in the movie. Javier Bardem does a good and convincing job of acting, and Scarlett Johansson's character seems fairly believable. In any case, this is one of those movies for which the intention seems to be to make an artistic movie with meaning, but for me it comes off as being a collection of art-movie motifs with no apparent meaning and a couple of Woody Allen's New York characters thrown in. ...more info
  • Good movie!
    I really enjoyed this movie. Interesting story, good acting and great scenery and music. I bought the soundtrack....more info
  • Good acting, stupid story
    I am glad that I saw this movie on a plane and didn't spend good money to see this turkey. I think that what Woodie Allen had to say he said years ago and should be banned from ever making another film. I am a fan of all the actors and they did well with the stupid script the had to work with, but none of the roles were even worth a nomination....more info
  • great actors, great dialogue
    Allen out of Manhattan, witty, human and over psicoanalised. Everyone acts at their best. A story about americans out of their place, experiencing "contact" with latin europeans. Great for people who understand Allen's criticism of white American (U S of A's)intelectualised primeval craves, structured social behaviour and obsesion with themselves. ...more info
  • The one star is for Cruz
    There must be different versions of this film because I certainly didn't see anywhere near a 5 star film.

    The acting, with the fabulous exception of Penelope Cruz, is bland and annoying. When Cruz enters the film, she shines. However, since the other actors have done brilliant performances in other films, I'd have to say it was the direction and script.

    The film I saw was inane, filled with self-absorbed characters and a less than witty dialogue....more info

 

 
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