Vicky Cristina Barcelona
3 1/2 Stars
Woody Allen has been making films outside of New York for the past few years, and Spain proves to be a perfect inspiration and setting for his latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Rebecca Hall plays Vicky, an attractive and smart woman engaged to a successful and sensible man. Scarlett Johansson plays Cristina, the beautiful and impulsive best friend of Vicky who knows what she DOESN’T want in life, but can’t figure out which “path” to pursue. The girls are invited to spend two summer months in Barcelona with distant relatives of Vicky’s. This gives Vicky a perfect opportunity to finish work on her thesis topic, Catalan culture. After attending an art gallery opening, the two friends end up at a restaurant where they are approached by the handsome Spanish artist Juan Antonio (played by Javier Bardem.) He proceeds to invite both women away for a weekend of art, food and drink, and lovemaking. Vicky is appalled. Cristina is intrigued. And soon they are on an adventure sure to change the course of their lives. There are several angles to talk up this movie to potential viewers. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, VCB is replete with witty Woody Allen dialogue and plenty of sensuality. For the armchair traveler, there’s good food and wine, breathtaking sights, and the passionate sounds of Spanish guitar. And I haven’t even mentioned Penelope Cruz’s Oscar-winning performance as Maria Elena, the crazy and gorgeous ex-wife of Juan Antonio’s. Last but not least, see this movie if only to realize that Javier Bardem can play a lover as well or better than a villain.
Directed by Sanaa Hamri, 2006
As a rule, I don’t do romantic comedies. I never have anything in common with the characters. The romances seem forced, the breakups ridiculous, and the make-ups even more contrived. Yes, I may be a tad cynical when it comes to romance; but when I saw the trailer for Something New, something told me I should watch this movie.
Kenya McQueen is a young, professional African-American woman. She’s worked very hard to advance in a field not only saturated with men, but white men – colleagues and clients alike. She and her friends get together and talk about what it means to be single and successful black women.
Kenya decides to take a chance on being set up for a blind date. After arriving at the coffee shop, she checks out the black men, looking for the person she’s meeting. Then her date arrives… Kenya is horrified when she realizes she’s been set up with a white guy. She basically blows him off at this point, but runs into him again at a party.
Brian Kelly is a landscaper. Kenya hires him to work for her. As he transforms her disastrous backyard, Kenya is transformed too. You want these two to get together as you experience their chemistry. Brian brings out a new uninhibited side to Kenya.
Of course there is conflict, then a breakup, and eventually a make-up that occurs in this romantic comedy. But Something New addresses other very contemporary and relevant issues during this process. It features a great cast, including Blair Underwood as a wood-be suitor, and Alfre Woodard as Kenya’s mother. The soundtrack is awesome. I won’t say anything else about this movie except watch it!