Writer & Director: Woody Allen
Gross: $18 020 252 (as of September 14th, 2008)
WOODY ALLEN IS BACK!!!
i just saw Vicky Christina Barcelona and i am so happy! i am a huge woody allen fan and consider him to be one of the greatest film directors/writers of all time. growing up i saw almost everything he did and then of course went back and watched the older stuff as well. and i have to say that up until, and including, Deconstruction Harry, i liked or loved everything i saw (there are few i still haven't seen).
i was almost to the point where i thought i couldn't be unbiased when watching a woody allen movie, since film after film i liked... then came the last 10 years and i didn't like everything. in fact for me the last decade has been pretty hit and miss for woody, with it mostly missing and even the hits not being anything that memorable (i was even on the other side of the fence when it came to the acclaim rained down on Match Point).
but, then came Vicky Christina Barcelona and all is right in the world again. this is great woody allen and pretty much everything about it worked... even things that i was worried wouldn't work before heading into the theater.
first off he isn't in the movie, and i have always preferred the ones in which he did have a role (although, of course Purple Rose Of Ciaro, Radio Days and Bullets Over Broadway didn't suffer from the lack of woody in them). i just enjoy his character and have found my favorite films being the ones he is in. so that wasn't a problem here.
my second worry was scarlett johansson. i have said it before and i'll say it again, a good actor isn't necessarily a good actor in a woody allen movie. the way he writes and the conversational style/improve-feel of his dialogue isn't something every good actor can pull off. and i have to tell you that johansson, his new muse, hasn't been able to pull it off in her previous allen film efforts. maybe it is unfair to compare her to his previous leading ladies, but when we have seen actresses like diane keaton and mia farrow give such great performances, there is a lot to live up to.
i will say though, that she has gotten better. in Match Point she seemed totally awkward and unsure how to handle the style, while in Scoop she wasn't as destructive to the film itself (which is one of his recent ones that i kind of enjoyed). that improving has continued and in Vicky Christina Barcelona she is better then just not bad. she is actually pretty good and holds her own with the likes of penelope cruze, javiar bardem and rebecca hall who seem to have a much better grasp of the allen-style.
so with those two worries put to rest everything seemed in place for a great movie. and it lived up to it. the script was great, the cinematography was good and this is his first non-new york movie that seems to capture the beauty of a city the way his new york movies did and do. i can't imagine not wanting to travel to barcelona after having seen this film.
when i saw the trailer for this film a few months back i was kind of sad to see that woody allen's name wasn't mentioned once during the preview. has this generation of movie goers told studios that the allen name isn't a selling point? has his last decade of hits and misses completely negated the 30 years of great film after great film that came previous? whatever it is, the idea that not mentioning his name is a better promotion of the film disheartened me.
who knows how good his next film will be? sure, there is no longer that gaurantee of a good to great woody allen film every year, but for 2008 we sure got one!