"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" Screening Companion

-Allen can be literal-minded about his thematic polarities, but, in this movie, he has put actors with first-class temperament on the screen, and his writing is both crisp and ambivalent: he works everything out with a stringent thoroughness that still allows room for surprise. And, through all the twists and turns, the ochre beauty of Barcelona (as photographed by Javier Aguirresarobe) plays a major role. The characters make maybe one or two more touristic stops than is necessary, but it’s a minor flaw. You can feel Allen’s excitement in the sensual atmosphere. Spain! A seventy-two-year-old man has warmed his bones. [7]


-It took a screenplay set among Americans in Spain for Woody Allen to make his most French film yet. [5]


-The new movie doesn't percolate with the inventive comic situations or quotable one-liners of the early, funny films. But, like Annie Hall and Manhattan, it is about people whose jobs are incidental to their real vocations of falling in love and messing things up. With seven major characters, five of whom have affairs during one Spanish summer, VCB is a God's-eye view of the thesis that "only unfulfilled love can be romantic. [4]


-One is meant to emerge from “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” believing that happiness may be elusive, even impossible, but that life has a richness greater than one’s personal satisfaction. There’s something stronger in the air—a largeness of spirit, as well as abundant physical beauty. The characters may suffer, but the filmmaker exults. [7]

-Runtime: 96 minutes

-Released on August 15, 2008

-Production Company: MGM

-Distributor: The Weinstein Company

-Rated PG-13

-Budget: $15.5 million [1]

-Gross: $23.2 million [1], $96.4.2 million worldwide [3] ($15 Million France, $8 million Italy, $10 million Spain, $4.3 million UK, $5.4 Germany, $2.6 million Greece, $2.5 million in Brazil) [3]

-Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

Next Stop: Spain


-"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" was based on a screenplay Woody Allen originally wrote years earlier, which was set in San Francisco. Since his deal for this film specified that it must be shot in Spain, Allen looked for a story from his files that could be rewritten for a Spanish setting, took his old San Francisco-set script and rewrote it to take place in Barcelona. [1]


-The city of Barcelona offered to pick up the tab of production costs if the film was shot there, the amount rose up to two million Euros from public funds. Ultimately, the filmmakers shot in Barcelona. In 2007, controversy arose in Catalonia (Spain) because the film was partially funded with public money. Barcelona's city hall provided one million euro, and the government of Catalonia half a million, which comes to 10% of the budget. [1]

Taking Shape


-Woody Allen: "It was not. I had the idea about two women going away on a summer thing some place. Someone called from Barcelona and said, 'Would you like to make a picture here? We’ll finance it.' That’s always the hardest part of making any picture, is getting the financing. Writing it, directing it, or anything else is easier than getting the financing for it, so I said, 'Sure, I would do it.'" [8]


-WA: "I had no idea for anything for it and then about a week or two later I got a call from Penelope Cruz. I didn’t know her; she wanted to meet and she was in New York. I had only seen her inVolver and nothing else ever. I thought she was great in it, and she said that she knew I was doing a film in Barcelona and she would like to participate. I started out with Barcelona, with Penelope, and in the back of mind I was going to go to Scarlett. Then I heard Javier [Bardem] was interested, so gradually it took shape. I was writing for these people. I was deliberately writing for these people. I didn’t know Rebecca Hall at all. Juliet Taylor, my casting director, discovered her. She said that she was great, I should read her, and look at some film on her. I did and she was right. I put the thing together for the people almost, as I did it, and did the best I could." [8]


-WA: "I relied on whatever knowledge I had. I’ve been to Barcelona several times in my life, but I didn’t have a vast knowledge of it. When I got over there the art director took me to all these places. You get help from people. Everybody on the crew cooperates and says, 'They would never speak that way.' Or, 'They would never go to this restaurant if they are 25 or 30 years old. They would go to this one.' So gradually you do it and it looks like you know Barcelona, or you know London, when in fact you are faking. Everybody helps you a great deal. That is exactly how it emerged." [8]

Woody's Modern Era - Part 4: "The Fourth Wave"


-Mick LaSalle for The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "With movies, creativity tends to come in waves. Preston Sturges had one perfect wave, and we still know his name 60 years later. Truffaut had two and might have had more had he lived. The lucky ones - Bergman, Hitchcock - do get more, and Woody Allen is in the midst of his fourth. His first wave began his film career. His second began with "Annie Hall," his third with "Hannah and Her Sisters" and his fourth with "Match Point." The latest wave is characterized by an economy of storytelling, confident digressions and a relaxed use of all the narrative devices at his disposal. The screenplays have a flow, as though they were written for pleasure in one draft and just happened to come out perfect."


-Mick LaSalle for The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "When great artists maintain their health and energy into their 70s, amazing things can happen - and they're happening with Woody Allen. His new film, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," could not have been made by a young person. Though the characters are young and the film teems with directorial energy and innovation, the film's freedom and control, its inspiration and focus, announce it as the work of a confident and mature artist."


-Michael Phillips for the Chicago Tribune wrote, "I enjoyed it as much as any Allen film of the last 20 years. When it's over...you're left with a tinge of melancholy that feels not plot-driven, not engineered, but like a slice of reasonably complicated life."



-Its one of Woody Allen's most profitable films. [3]


-For his brief driving scene in this movie, Javier Bardem underwent hours of driving instruction and still didn't have a driver's license to show for his efforts when the movie wrapped. [1]


-A part of the film is set in the city of Oviedo. One of the sights of Oviedo that was not featured in the film is a life size statue of Woody Allen which was installed in 2003. [1]


-Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz married for real two years later. [1]


-Woody Allen wrote the parts of Cristina and Juan Antonio with Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem in mind. Apparently, Bardem was his first and only choice for the male lead. [1]


-When she heard Allen was shooting a movie in Barcelona, Penélope Cruz contacted Allen independently and asked to be involved. [2]


-This is the third film that Woody Allen has made with Scarlett Johansson after Match Point and Scoop. [1]


-With Penélope Cruz winning an Oscar for her role as Maria Elena in this film, it continues a mini-trend of young actresses winning Best Supporting Actress Oscars in Woody Allen films after Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite and Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway. [1]


-Despite winning an Oscar, Penélope Cruz is only in the film for 41 minutes. Its 51 minutes before she finally appears. [1]


-Penélope Cruz also won a BAFTA award, an Independent Spirit award and a National Board of Review award.

-Vicky Cristina Barcelona won the Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical” (even though it’s neither a comedy nor a musical). [2]


-Altogether, the film won 25 out of 56 nominations. [6]


-The movie’s unofficial theme song (“Barcelona” by Giulia y Los Tellarini) was discovered by Allen amidst his fan-mail. It plays over the opening credits and at several other points in the film. [2]


-Filming in Spain drew "enormous" crowds. Woody Allen: "They could not have been sweeter or more cooperative." [8]


-Woody Allen does not speak Spanish, and had not translator on set, so had no way of knowing if Bardem and Cruz were truly abiding by the screenplay. [2]


-Woody wrote a rather funny production diary during the filming of Vicky Cristina Barcelona for The Guardian. Excerpt: Scarlett came to me today with one of those questions actors ask: "What's my motivation?" I shot back: "Your salary." Read it here: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/jan/12/woody-allen-vicky-cristina-barcelona


-Woody on the film's poster: Usually when the marketing people show you posters for your movie, usually your heart sinks, because you think you have made a beautiful film - at least you have tried to make a beautiful film - and they usually show you something that is aimed, in the most heavy-handed way, at the lowest common denominator. Now on this picture, they showed me the ad and I thought it was beautiful. I thought it was great. I was so shocked that I was not going to have to send it back and say, 'Please try again.' It was a beautiful ad, better than anything I had imagined...it’s one of the nicest I’ve ever had." [8]


[1] - imdb.com

[2] - www.EveryWoodyAllenMovie.com

[3] - Box Office Mojo

[4] - Richard Corliss of Time; http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1833089,00.html--

[5] - http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-vicky-cristina-review-0815aug15,0,6660816.story

[6] - Wikipedia

[7] - http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2008/08/11/080811crci_cinema_denby

[8] - http://movies.about.com/od/vickycristinabarcelona/a/vcbwa081108.htm

[9] - http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/qbzf

[10] - www.WoodyAllenPages.com

Critical Reception


-Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun Times wrote, "The thing about a Woody Allen film is, whatever else [coincidentally the name of Woody's next film] happens, the characters are intriguing to hear. They tend to be smart, witty, not above epigrams. A few days before seeing "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," I viewed his "Hannah and Her Sisters" again. More than 20 years apart, both with dialogue at perfect pitch. Allen has directed more than 40 movies in about as many years and written all of them himself. Why isn't he more honored? Do we take him for granted?"


-Mick LaSalle for The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "In the late '70s and '80s, Allen made comedies and dramas, but he's beyond those distinctions now. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" exists in its own Allen universe, an idiosyncratic mixture of Fitzgeraldian romanticism, Rohmer-esque self-involved loquaciousness and Marx Brothers absurdity. Allen's vision is so clear in his mind that genre demands are swept away. Vicky and Cristina go where they want to go, and nothing seems forced or guided about their journey. It's as if Allen were merely watching them and taking dictation....Scarlett Johansson is never more relaxed or appealing or less self-conscious than she is in Allen's movies. Bardem shows new shades of humor and romantic appeal, and Rebecca Hall, as Vicky, is launched as a young actress of rare maturity and intelligence. But the revelation is Penélope Cruz, who has never been better in an American film. Suddenly, and for the first time, her stardom makes sense."


-Kenneth Turan for the Los Angles Times wrote, ""Vicky Cristina Barcelona" remains half-formed from beginning to end, sullenly refusing to resolve in any satisfactory way and getting increasingly sour and misanthropic without offering anything that even resembles a perceptive glimpse into human behavior. There is nothing wrong with Allen's determination to mix humor and drama, it's simply too bad he's not getting better at it."


-Manohla Dargis of The New York Times weote, "Although “Vicky Cristina” trips along winningly, carried by the beauty of its locations and stars — and all the gauzy romanticism those enchanted places and people imply — it reverberates with implacable melancholy, a sense of loss. Mr. Allen may be buoyed (like the rest of us) by his recent creative resurrection, but this is still the same glum clown who, after the premiere of “Match Point,” his pitch-black, near pitch-perfect 2005 drama, commented that cynicism was just an alternate spelling of reality. Ah, life! Ah, Woody!"


-Richard Corliss of Time wrote, "Now comes Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and it's just fine. Not great; just fine — a breezy roundelay about pretty people finding lust with improper strangers. It is also the kind of movie that isn't made much anymore, which makes the movie seem rare, perhaps precious. I like the new mosvie, within reason; the question that nags at me is whether the film, appearing during this slow patch in Allen's career, is the beneficiary of our diminished expectations."


-Danny from Woody Allen Pages website wrote: "Allen gets plenty of praise for writing women, and in Vicky, Cristina and Maria he’s made three unforgettable ones. In a way, they all represent something different, but all three come to life in the hands of the actresses. It’s not fair to pick a winner, but Rebecca Hall gets unfairly forgotten, and Cruz – she is a ball of fire." [10]


-Danny continues, "This is a full blooded film. Allen cleverly allows his brilliant cast to tear right through his script, while his keen eye lets us soak in the wonderful atmosphere. Match Point may have moved his finacing overseas, but here is where Allen fulfilled the dream of his to be a ‘foreign director’. And it’s a hell of a job he’s done too. [10]


-Scott Tobias for the A.V. Club wrote, " it's been easy to forget that Allen was once a keen and perceptive chronicler of the human heart and its mysterious, fickle desires. Shooting in Europe for the fourth time following Match Point, Scoop, andCassandra's Dream, Allen seizes on the chance to weigh American notions of love against the continent's more libertine spirit. He comes away with a witty and ambiguous movie that's simultaneously intoxicating and suffused with sadness and doubt."


-David Denby for The New Yorker wrote, "Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” has a natural, flowing vitality to it, a sun-drenched splendor that never falters."


Michael Quinn for the BBC gave the film's soundtrack positive reviews calling it,  "One of the most appealing compilation soundtracks of the last few years." [9]


-82% Rotten Tomatoes rating