Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Beautiful Day in Barcelona

August 17, 2008

It is the latest Woody Allen film, enjoying rave reviews, and because I'm just a 15-minute subway ride from Manhattan, I had the chance to catch it yesterday, the day after it opened.

Since I live so close to the city, I much more hip than I once was about what I should wear to the movie.The chic-est attire--and this will be of interest to my readers in Alabama--is blue jeans with a black tee-shirt. It's the uniform that unites the beautiful people around me, but all summer I've felt more like living in my white slacks with little tops of various colors, and, God help me, the little floaty tops that look so cute on slender young bodies. The weather is cooler now that fall is thinking about coming to the neighborhood; it is crisply non-humid with a high of something like 79 degrees. Fashion decrees that I've waited long enough--it's time to break out the dark-washed jeans. I wanted to look somewhat casually elegant although bohemian and clever (it is a Woody Allen film, after all). I added a little makeup and my garnet earrings, and was probably overdressed for the occasion. It's not as if anybody would have noticed.

The movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is playing in a cineplex in Chelsea, just three subway stops from Hoboken, and just a few blocks from where I once lived. Walking to the theatre I passed the Chelsea Hotel and the sweet little library on West 23rd where I used to take my daughter just about every week. Going to see it brought up a combination of emotions--old home week and pleasure at pulling off a look that felt to me absolutely up to date. Plus, my feet didn't hurt, for a change. I've found a pair of sandals that are not flip-flops and feel good on my feet.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is an elegant, offbeat romance with absolutely ravishing scenes of the quirky old city of Barcelona, and some pretty ravishing love scenes with Scarlett Johannsen, Javier Bardem, and Penelope Cruz. Bardem, unknown to me until now, is a new male sex symbol on the order of television's character "House," as played by the shaggy and unconventional Hugh Laurie. I had also not seen the other star of the film, Rebecca Hall, who did an appealing job with the role of the uptight-but-conflicted friend of the more sexually adventurous Johannsen.

But in my mind the picture belongs to Penelope Cruz. We've seen her be beautiful, as in Vanilla Sky; we've seen that she can act, as in Volver, and in this one we see her in a spot-on portrayal of a passionate, neurotic artist who believes herself to be a genius, and before she's through with us we're convinced she may be right.

No doubt this is another chick flick. It's beautifully photographed, like a travel video of Barcelona, with plots and subplots about beautiful people falling in and out of love. It's Woody Allen telling us a rather complicated little story about people we're not likely to meet, drawing us into their tale and letting us go without making any particular statement about them, exposing us to a dreamy lifestyle, and then letting us go. I sat ensconced in my own chic-ness, wallowing in my aging chick-ness, and leaving with that wistful feeling that reminds me of who and where I really am as well as where I've been and where I'd like to go.


Alex said...

I recently saw a Woody Allen movie with Scarlet Johanson on DVD, Match Point. Quite good.

Mary Lois said...

She's a favorite of his now. She's very good in this one, but not particularly sympathetic.

Nan said...

You know, it doesn't matter if anyone noticed or not. It's how clothes make the wearer feel which is important. It seems like Woody Allen is like Hitchcock used to be featuring certain actresses for a while, and then new ones for another while.