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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Vicki Cristina Barcelona review

Going in there was every reason to expect Woody Allen's latest, "Vicki Cristina Barcelona", to be a winner -- top-notch international name cast including last years Oscar laureate for best supporting actor, Spaniard Javier Bardem, a gaggle of sexy women involved with him including dazzling blonde bombshell Scarlett Johansson, and the beautiful city of Barcelona for a backdrop. Sad to say it was highly disappointing at neary every turn and was basically a high gloss low concept loser.

The picture turns out to be little more than one more lame excuse (his third with her) for Woody to salivate over Scarlett Johansson's bumptious young curves, this time in a Spanish setting -- Barcelona and Oviedo (but why this Northern city?) -- and to employ two Spanish stars, Javier Badem and Penelope Cruz, to solidify his "European" credentials. The show was however, more or less stolen by the relatively unknown brunette actress (Rebecca Hall) who played Vicki, the married gal also involved in the Badem quadrangle -- or Ménage a Quatre. (with Scarlet, Penelope, and her, as a side dish) -- Too much script, too much bullshit and contrived situations (like the flight to Oviedo with Badem at the controls), and a very flat, uninteresting Scarlett Jo. Getting tired of her always doing the same thing with little variation and that unmodulated flat Southern California airhead accent. In this story she plays a tender lost young thing with no inhibitions on a European vacation who doesn't know what she wants, but she does know what she doesn't want -- and what she doesn't want is not to get laid by Javier (Juan Antonio), the endlessly horny Picasso-like primate of the piece.

Bardem, unfortunately, is not very effective, or even sexy in English, delivering his lines in such a low key mumble that his dialogue is barely comprehensible -- probably to cover up his heavy Spanish accent. The only Bardem scenes that really come to life are the Spanish ones with Penelope, his suicidal ex-wife, and even there he keeps telling her to speak English so Scarlett (and we in the audience) can understand. The subplot with Vicki, (Rebecca Hall) turning on to Bardem against her better judgement after a singleton roll in the hay, but finally realizing that there's no 'there' there, is, however, pretty good, and she alone sort of saves the pic from sinking altogether under its own dead weight of over-clever yackety-yack scripting and half-baked ideas. Lots of Gaudi backgrounds are seen and some nice Spanish guitar music is heard, but aside from the colorful travelogue aspect of the film this is really second rate Allen and third rate Scarlett Jo, not to mention second-rate Bardem -- The poor guy is forced into the story like a mental patient into a straightjacket. If he's gonna make American films he'll be better off sticking to minimal dialogue robot roles with the Coen Brothers. VCBarcelona is so disappointing -- so forced and phony at every turn, that you almost want to ask for your money back.

2. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" -- the high-tech remake of the 1951 Sci-fi classic by Robert Wise.
With all the updated special effects this looks more like "War of the Worlds" because the alien visitors are now definitely out to exterminate the human race before our species makes the planet Earth uninhabitable for cosmic immigrants who have lost their own sun and need a place to resettle. ("The earth is one of only a small handful of places in the entire Cosmos suitable for the development of Higher Intelligence life forms", we are dutifully informed). Keanu Reeves is perfect for the role of Klaatu, the temporarily Earthman embodied spaceling, and Jennifer Connelly is an adequate earthling foil who just may be able to get through to him -- with a mixed-race curly-headed kid thrown in to catch the non-Caucasian crowd. Because of the semi-religious overtones this might even go over in the Bible Belt and there is even a bit of Humanitarianism when Klaatu, who is an automaton basically devoid of human feelings, begins to see what love is all about and tries to reel his spheroid brethren in before it's too late. With a strong message for environmental preservation -- or else -- and a role tailor made for Keanu Reeves' basic emotionlessness, this is not bad for an evening of pseudo-scientific entertainment. Plenty of adrenaline rushes and a bam-bam sound track as the deluded military tries desperately to defend our planet from the space invaders, this was a lot easier to sit through and get swept up in than Woody Allen's tedious Barcelona.

The best part of the evening were the trailers -- previews of three upcoming Oscar touted attractions, all American period pieces:
(1) "Revolutionary Road", re-uniting that dynamic romantic Titanic duo, Kate Winslett and Leonardo Dicaprio, in post-war American suburbia of the early fifties, where life is not quite as smooth as it looks on the surface, directed by Mister Winslet, Sam Mendes, (2)"Changeling" -- Angela Jolie loses her child in 1928 America where the heartless authorities can't understand why she isn't satisfied to get a kid back even if it isn't exactly the one that disappeared -- directed by East Clintwood with colorful period decorum, and (3) "Nixon-Frost", America in the seventies -- post Watergate -- with disgraced president Nixon going up against uppity English talk-show host David Frost head-to-head on national TV in an effort to vindicate his questionable (i.e., criminal) behavior in office -- "If the president does it, it's not a crime!" -- Seventy year old actor Frank Langella looks like a shoo-in for Best Actor in February, and the film itself looks like a sure winner -- with Michael Sheen, who was an amazing Tony Blair in "The Queen", as Frost.

Alex Deleon

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