Day 190: Vicky Christina Barcelona

51lv-e4WLsLOkay. Given the hype surrounding Vicky Christina Barcelona at the time it was being shot (it was reportedly a trouser-tenting romp with steamy scenes between Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz), I remember feeling quite underwhelmed when I saw it in the theater.

I don’t feel any more “whelmed” seeing it again now.

Vicky Christina Barcelona is – as you might expect – set in Spain. And it begins when scruffy faced and sexy Javier Bardem approaches American friends Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Johansson) in a bar and asks them to fly off with him for sex.

Christina wants to immediately. Vicky swears she will not.

But both do.

After awhile, they eventually part ways, with Christina staying with Bardem.

Enter fiery temptress Penelope Cruz, who complicates things greatly.

Vicky marries a straight-laced guy and begins to lead a normal life, which is what she thought she wanted.

But she secretly pines for Bardem.

This is a movie – with its story told via voice-over narration – is about relationships, love, infidelity, sex, and…hmmm.

In other words, it’s another Woody movie.

Who sleeps with whom? Who stays with whom? Who’s happy? Who’s not?

Watch and see.

Day 188: Scoop

51M9FYSPMRLThe time around, Scoop – the 37th movie Woody Allen directed – is a comedy.

But with Scarlett Johansson again.

’nuff said, eh?

Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.

Only, I suppose I could add that Scoop, much like Anything Else, is another trifle, a relatively lightweight comedy about (according to its entry on IMDB):

An American journalism student in London [who] scoops a big story, and begins an affair with an aristocrat as the incident unfurls.

A kind of Greek chorus of death appears a few minutes into the film, a ship sailing in the fog captained by Death himself, with the late journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) on board, and trading anecdotes with a woman who tips him off to the scoop of his life – that socialite Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) is the Tarot Card killer.

Enter journalist Sondra Pransky (Johansson) who, through slightly supernatural means (enter Woody Allen as Sid Waterman, a magician named the Great Splendini), gets wind of the scoop – and goes after Peter Lyman.

I wouldn’t say Scarlett Johansson would ever win any acting awards for this movie. Frankly, I don’t think she’s all that good playing a coed cub reporter. But she’s Scarlett Johansson. And that’s good enough for me.

Day 187: Match Point

4102J5QS38LMatch Point is a brilliant, brilliant movie. And my eighth favorite Woody Allen film.

It is not a comedy.

And it was not filmed in New York.

It’s a drama, or perhaps a “thriller” (as it’s billed), and it was filmed in London, England.

The story is about relationships, infidelity, death – all the traditional Woody Allen themes.

Only this time they’re told differently, with more skill.

And with greater impact.

And with the uber-sexy actress Scarlett Johannson as the femme fatale.

The opening voice-over narration sets the tone for the movie:

The man who said “I’d rather be lucky than good” saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.

And it only gets better from there.

Match Point is story is a former tennis pro (Rhys Meyers) who becomes a tennis instructor at an exclusive club. He gets serious with the sister (Mortimer) of his Continue reading