Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Those of us who grew up with the great Woody Allen comedies of the 1970s—Bananas, Sleeper, Love and Death and Annie Hall—can only grimace in embarrassment at the depths to which he has fallen. No doubt it’s hard for a comedian to stay funny as he mellows and loses his edge. But Woody can still be mildly funny—as he displayed as the elderly magician in the light-weight comedy Scoop. But for a long time now Woody has wanted to be a genuine film-maker in the European mold, failing to see that aside from his wayward jokes in the Groucho Marx/S. J. Perelman mode, his true genius lay in imaginative schtick. (The giant chicken in Sleeper, for example.) Unfortunately Woody lacks the imagination to develop genuine characters or dramatic situations. Everyone in a Woody Allen movie talks like Woody Allen, which means, they discuss “relationships” like a co-ed sophomore.

The best scene in Vicky Christina Barcelona lasts one second. It shows the austere church in Oviedo, Spain, that is architecturally significant for being post-Roman but pre-Romanesque. The rest of the film is deeply unconvincing as drama. And what makes matters worse, there are no jokes!

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