Vicky Cristina Barcelona ★★★★

Reluctantly, four stars with huge caveats -- wrote a long review (spoilerz), addressing this as well as some of the major issues with Allen's later work overall, specifically the writing, editing and casting.

I had to pause this around an hour in because of unrelated obligations and at that point I was wondering how in the hell I'd rated this so highly before. The v.o. is dreadful, the performances apart from Bardem's are baffling, and everyone talks in that incredibly annoying Woody Allen speak that I swear wasn't as bad when the likes of Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow and Michael Caine and Martin Landau were reading his dialogue. Then I came back for the last 45 minutes, from Cruz's entrance to the end, and it really is like a different movie, and one that really earns its sense of bleakness by the fade; I was left feeling as completely plowed by the second half as I was befuddled by the first.

I still have my notes from when I saw this in the theater (I was a diehard back then) and I talked a lot about how much this cribs from Jules and Jim, but the problem now is my memories of Jules and Jim are so vague that I can't comment as much on that anymore... I'll have to fix that. For that matter, my memory of this was so faint that I seriously had forgotten Rebecca Hall was still in the movie after the first thirty minutes. I never forgot Javier Bardem though. He should've gotten another Oscar just for muddling through all that shitty dialogue and making it absolutely sing.