Monday, August 18, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barelona

Woody Allen's latest movie, currently playing at the Park Cinema on Cambie Street, is one of his best.

Charming, funny, fascinating, beautifully cast, acted and filmed in delicious locations around Spain, this is Allen proving once again that you can take a story in 101 directions, pulling it like taffy, as long as you keep it interesting.

Two American girls spend a summer in Spain. Both get involved with a handsome Spanish painter.
The painter has an almost ex-wife.

Let the complications - and the gags -begin.

The painter is Javier Bardem, hot off his Oscar for No Country for Old Men. Bardem is one of those rare actors who can do anything and be a movie star at the same time. He is addictively watchable.

Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall are the two girls.

After Woody's 2005 film, "Match Point," I was prepared to dismiss Johnasson as a very beautiful but hopelessly inadequate actress. Maybe she has learned some things along the way. Maybe she is better cast or directed here. Whatever the explanation, she is wonderful.

Halfway through the movie, Penelope Cruz bursts onto the screen as Bardem's gorgeous volatile and half-mad wife. Like Bardem, she can do anything in front of a camera and make you watch.

All of the kissing and seductions and sex and fights and tantrums are filmed in romantic Spanish settings, sun-drenched and elegant. Wine and comfort are everywhere. Music plays forever.

It is rare that I ever want to see a movie again immediately after the first viewing.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is such a movie.

Six Degrees of Separation

My latest almost encounter with celebrity puts me oh so close to Woody Allen and Javier Bardem.

Last year, I had a small part in a new movie called, "Chaos Theory." Although listed as a feature, the final product went straight to video and was released a few months ago.

You can see my two scenes on my website at

I play the lead actor's doctor.

The lead actor is Ryan Reynolds, who is currently the romantic partner of Scarlett Johansson.

Ms. Johansson currently stars in Vicki Cristina Barcelona, reviewed above.

Thus, I get to claim my spurious connection to Woody and to Mr. Bardem, currently one of the greatest screen actors in the world.

Emily Mortimer, shown here, also starred in "Chaos Theory" and I had a delightful chat with her about her experience in Woody Allen's not-so-successful film in which Johansson also starred.

If I try hard enough, I am sure I can make similarly pointless connections to Burt Lancaster, Elsa Lanchester and Wally, the Talking Duck.

The Always Helpful Methadone

For years, methadone has been precribed for heroin addicts by killers calling themselves doctors.

NOw, this synthetic narcotic is being prescribed by prativally everyone and his dog as a pain killer.

Unfortunately, it is also a very effective patient killer.

The NY Times story, with video, is headlined "Methadone Rises as a Painkiller With Big Risks," and you can read it here.