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This week:
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Filthy says:
"Woody gave me a Woody!"

In Woody Allen's newest, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Scarlett Johannsen makes out with Penelope Cruz. Oh, man, it's pretty fucking exciting. Like a Shamwow! or a Kaboom!, or any other product that needs an exclamation point at its end. Honestly, is there anything more like a miracle product in cinema than two really hot chicks making out and petting each other? It's better than a shit that miraculously gets rid of milder, more exciting than a foam that cleans dried shit off your toilet bowl. It's that sexy.

Actually, the whole movie is pretty damn sexy, which is a hard thing to pull off. Or, at least, you would think so seeing all the crap that Hollywood churns out under that pretense. Usually, what we get is either two "mature" people humping under sheets in soft focus, or ladies in their twenties pretending to be teenagers exposing their breasts. Not that I'm complaining about the young ladies, but the old people getting all sensuous usually wants to make me barf up a lung and then shove it up the director's ass. The French think they're making sexy films. They're free with the nudity, both top and bottom, which makes even the most lugubrious French flick worth jerking off to when the parents are out at community theater for the evening. The problem, though, is that the Normans put tiresome, trite subtexts under all the nudity about women's empowerment, suburban malaise and foreign encroachment. It's so damn hard getting a boner when the naked woman on screen is crying.

Anyway, back to Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which is sexy, funny and interesting. Those are three qualities that frat guys claim to like in a girl. In reality, what they want is dirty, insecure and needy in two-hour bursts a few times a week. So, I guess Woody Allen is appealing to a more mature audience. Hell, he must be since I was the youngest person in the theater by twenty years. Johansson is Cristina, a college-aged girl who tries to define herself and her freedom by entangling herself in tempestuous relationships. She believes love should be messy. Rebecca Hall is Vicky, her uptight best friend who has her life planned out, right down to the pattern of china she'll have and the number of kids she'll squeeze out. Together they travel to Spain for a summer and meet the intense and aggressive painter Javier Bardem, trailing musk wherever he goes. Bardem, with his musk flowing freely, has recently broken up with his crazy ex-wife Penelope Cruz, but only after she stabbed him in the back. Literally.

Once she hears about Bardem's nutty ex, Johansson's immediately attracted to him and accepts an impromptu invitation to Northern Spain, see the sites and fuck him. Actually, Bardem muskily invites both her and Hall. Hall is repulsed by him, rationalizing--as she does with everything--that he is everything she despises: impulsive, aggressive and poorly organized.

Johansson, on the other hand, can't resist a fucked-up man, and drags Hall with her. Johansson is eager to sleep with Bardem but blows her chance because of a violent reaction to shellfish and copious wine. While she convalesces, Hall falls for Bardem, ruining the neatness of her perfect life, and throwing up her plans to marry dweebish fiance, Chris Messina, as though they were undercooked prawns.

Trying to regain her control, Hall splits from Bardem and his musky muskiness, but she can't stop thinking about him. He is soon fucking--and living with--Johansson. His homicidal ex-wife joins them in a free-love arrangement that spawns the previously-mentioned makeout session between the two insanely hot girls.

Hall, meanwhile unsuccessfully tries to settle into the boring as shit life with Messina. She pities herself and wonders how the hell she let herself get so far down a path toward a drab, secure life. Maybe Johansson was onto something all along. Except, Johansson ain't so happy about her living arrangements. It was fun, now it's not, and it's time for her to move on. When she does, Cruz goes nuts again, leaving Bardem alone, and he makes another attempt at Hall, only to be interrupted by a pistol-wielding Cruz.

Like I said, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and not just because I have some fantasy of going to steamy, exotic Spain with two vulnerable women who can be easily plied with liquor. Actually, that's never occurred to me, but I do have a recurring dream about being being beaten with a bike chain in a gas station bathroom by two cover girls from Lowrider magazine. The closest I've gotten, though, is once I found the Harelip passed out under the men's urinal at the Tavern and went ahead and pissed anyway.

Essentially, the story boils down to a study of two life philosophies. The first is going through life thinking you know exactly what you want, and avoiding temptation to stay on your path. The second is never knowing what you want, but being willing to try anything so you can learn what you don't. Apparently, neither approach is perfect, but you probably get more sex with the second. You also have a better chance of getting food poisoning. Me personally, I choose a third path: knowing exactly what I want, but being easily influenced and tempted to change my mind and decide that exactly what I want is now something different. For example, two hours ago I thought that what I really wanted in life was to be an author. Now, what I really want is someone to loan me $2.86 so I can get a beef and bean burrito and a 32 oz. Miller High Life. And I am going to pursue that dream with all my passion until something else catches my interest.

The story flows freely and Woody Allen lets the entanglements happen with as much semblance to reality as possible. Hall and Johansson are really well defined characters. Nobody's better at playing melancholy sensuality like Johansson. Hall may play her uptightness a bit too much, but she gets the best lines and her struggle between controlled skepticism and desire is fun to watch.

Bardem is as musky as an ox. At one point Hall says she doesn't find him attractive, but it's clearly bullshit because the guy is really fucking attractive in the manly way of Humphrey Bogart or Russell Crowe. He's not exactly handsome, but, holy shit, he just sweats sex appeal like I, well, sweat sweat. His character is beautifully underplayed; he's not sleazy or insincere, just forward about what he wants. It's hard not to like him, even if he does set himself up for some fucked situations.

Cruz is still really hot, especially when she speaks Spanish. When she plays crazy, man, she goes for it, and gives me a boner. It's not a "I'm acting crazy for an Oscar" performance, but something that feels real and raw, like she has some experience and knows exactly what she's doing. She's scary, funny and someone you'd be willing to let carry a rifle into bed so long as she screwed you.

Spain looks pretty great too, with colorful Gaudi architecture as a backdrop. Normally, movies that seem to double as travelogues for the landmarks of some other place feel like some asshole director and writer telling you, "Look where I've been and it's sooooo much better than where you live." Here, though, it works, to present just the right amount of exoticness and being far away into the lives of the two main characters. They expect and allow their lives to change because they aren't home.

The movie drags in its third quarter. There is about twenty minutes that could be cut out without losing anything. And Woody Allen gives excessive narration through an unseen and uninvolved voice. It's a weird choice, especially opening the movie with about three minutes of someone telling us exactly what we're about to see and figure out for ourselves.

Still, it's the best Woody Allen has done in a long ass time. I thought the guy had lost it, and then, Kaboom! He's back, making sexy shit and cleaning toilets like it's no problem. Four Fingers for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Want to tell Filthy Something?




The Longshots is "Entertaining! Heartfelt and funny! One of th ebest movies of the year!"

Filthy's Reading
Junot Diaz- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Listening to
Man... or Astroman? - Destroy All Astromen


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