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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

September 12, 2008

Poor Rebecca Hall (daughter of Peter, the sensible girl in Starter for 10); she is pretty much the central character of Woody’s latest, and the best thing in it, and yet she doesn’t get a look in on the poster which is all about Penelope Scarlett Javier. (Faring even worse is Wire alumni Pablo Schreiber, brother of Liev, who gets what Dennis Miller once called the “expository eunuch” role as Vicky’s boyfriend of five minutes). I liked this a lot, though I’m not sure what it was I enjoyed because frankly I agree with most of Michael Atkinson’s dismissal of the thing. But it’s a pleasant way (and place) to spend some time, despite some annoyances (the narration that tells you what everyone is thinking or about to do; the stilted talk about the nature of love or the nature of artists) which I chose to indulge as Woodyisms rather than severe lapses of imagination. Compared to Scoop or Hollywood Ending this was like Casablanca (or should that be Ricky Ilsa Casablanca?) so be thankful for small mercies. Oh, one other thing that bugged me: while Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are arguing in private, Bardem repeatedly insists “Speak English in this house!” (translation: “Speak English in this movie!”). There are few things more exciting than listening to Penelope Cruz spout invective in Spanish (those sibilants!) so I really wished he would shut up.

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