Hey everyone. I haven't posted for a while. I'm doing good. What brought me out of 'retirement'? Just this: DON'T SEE VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA. It has to be one of the worst movies ever made on God's good earth. I have yet to read a single bad review of it, though (other than my own comment I posted on the New York Times' glowing review). Let me present my feelings with bullet points:
The movie has an omniscient narrator. This is not in and of itself a bad thing. I can think of a few movies with good omniscient narrators. Y tu mamá tambíen, for instance. This narrator, however, is stifling, trite, repetitive, and sounds like a male version of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. They could have just called the movie Woody Allen's Sex and A Different City, actually. It would have been just as accurate, seeing how little Barcelona actually figures in the movie (see below). The whole narration is attempting to be a placeholder for character development, but it holds its place badly, and all the characters are hollow stereotypes.
All the characters are hollow stereotypes. Cristina (ScarJo) is "Romantic American Girl". Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is "Straightlaced American Girl". Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) is "Passionate Spanish Male" (best line: "Love can only be romantic when it is unfulfilled"! SO THAT'S HOW!!). María Elena (Penélope Cruz) is "Passionate Spanish Female". I guess Juan Antonio and María Elena are as close to naming someone "Spanish Guy" and "Spanish Lady" while still being plausible Spanish names. Really? Seriously it's just like Sex and the City but with a gun (oops, spoiler!)
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is, according to the narrator in the opening sequence, getting her Masters degree in "Catalan Identity". That seems like a bullshit title, but oh well. I think what Woody Allen means for this to say to the audience is "Vicky doesn't really know what she wants in life, but look! She's smart!" Well put, Woody. So she's getting a Masters in Catalan Identity. And she's going to Barcelona! This should be her Time To Shine, right?! Wrong. The only indication that she has any interest whatsoever in Catalan culture is that she likes taking pictures of Gaudí buildings. Hey, they're great buildings. But that's maybe a little trite, right? As someone who is genuinely interested in Catalan culture (in case you weren't aware), I like Gaudí, but there's a LOT MORE TO DO IN BARCELONA THAN THAT. Also, she takes a Spanish class during the movie. A Spanish class - CA. STE. LLA. NO. ??? If you didn't know that people in Catalonia speak Catalan before seeing this movie, you wouldn't know it afterwards either. There isn't a single word of Catalan in the entire movie. And this from a movie which got 10% of its budget from the Generalitat de Catalunya - what were they thinking??!?!
There isn't a single word of Catalan in the entire movie! THE ENTIRE MOVIE! And MOST OF IT TAKES PLACE IN THE LARGEST METROPOLITAN AREA OF THE CATALAN SPEAKING WORLD. But that's just it! Juan Antonio (who is referred to in the movie as a "Catalan painter", and granted, he appears to live in Catalonia) is actually from Asturias (his hometown is Oviedo, his father lives near there). María Elena - who knows, also speaks no Catalan. Let's put this in persepective. I am making a movie about how awesome Montreal is. Two girls from, hmmm, let's say Japan just for randomness' sake, go on vacation to Montreal for the summer and spend the entire movie taking English lessons and running around with some dude from Winnipeg. Would you say they got to know the real spirit of Montreal? Oh also, one of those girls from Japan was getting her Masters in Quebecois Identity. Bull. Shit.
In conclusion, Woody Allen should probably be put in a home and kept away from pen, paper or camera for the rest of his years. You were great, sir, but you ain't great no more. Go see Tropic Thunder. It's probably a lot deeper.