Sunday, February 08, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

For the second weekend on the run the cinema is packed out with people standing around on the stairs because there's no room in the bar or the cafe. The reason is twofold; the flicks is a cheap night out in uncertain times and the other being there's simply so many good films around at the moment.

The latest is Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and while not being a return to the form that gave us Sleeper or Manhattan it's nonetheless a welcome improvement, particularly after the disaster that was Match Point - funny for all the wrong reasons.

The plot in VCB is that two American girls, Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson are at large in Barcelona and get picked up by louche artist Javier Bardem. Various amusing and thought provoking love tangles result. It's all gently done, picturesquely shot at all the places you've been if you've visited Barcelona, orchestrated with a slightly intrusive Allenesque narrator. It's rolling along in a slightly traveloguey way when bang, Penelope Cruz arrives on screen and proceeds to act everyone else off it. She steals the film and she's worth the ticket money on her own.

It weighs in at just over ninety minutes. I don't mind long movies but I think it's significant that Allen, who must be one of modern cinema's most prolific directors, always manages to say what he needs to say in an hour and a half.

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