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Grizzly Bears & Endurance . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, September 29, 2008 11 comments

Day Three of the Austin City Limits music festival is largely an endurance test.

This test is becoming increasingly difficult with each passing year as moving among 65,000 people while drinking ice-hold Heineken in the hot sun and wolfing down chopped beef sandwiches to maintain energy is a young man's game. It's still a damn good time, however, there are periodic moments when the body rebels against standing for hours each day despite the quality of the music.

And the quality was just fine this year as I saw excellent sets from bands like Vampire Weekend, Ryan Bingham, Robert Earl Keen, Iron and Wine, John Fogerty, Allison Kraus and Robert Plant, and Beck among others.

I just wish that somebody else could inhabit my body for work today. It still feels depleted and dehydrated, sun-weary and stomped and could use to stay at home to catch up on football scores versus stepping into the end of quarter craziness at work. Selah.

But these things happen and the only way to avoid them is to remain on the sidelines, which is an area I loathe to be found.

My brother and I were in the thick of things on Saturday as the festival really picks up steam with large crowds from opening until closing. After viewing so much flesh on display, we both agreed that hooking up at the end of a music festival would have to be one of the nastiest romps you could find.

Each participant would have already sweated through their clothes a dozen times over, and even if you were only wearing a bikini top and little else, your skin would taste like a salt lick and smell like rotting cheese. You certainly would have been forced to visit the port-a-pots at least three times by this point and so your hygiene levels would also be questionable at best.

This does not scream sexy no matter what appendages were being flaunted.

Only a college freshman would have the energy and lack of discretion to attempt the festival hook-up, and they are never a good litmus test because a fair portion would screw a rabid grizzly bear if it would sit still long enough.

But I don't have time to ponder the fucking of large woodland animals this morning as I have work to do, information to send and status meetings galore. The festival was great, but I wish it included Monday as a vacation day.

Since that isn't true, a pot of coffee will have to suffice.


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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, September 26, 2008 15 comments

"I don't give a shit what those pinkos over in Russia say. You want to be a loser - you go live in Russia," Paul Gleason, "Johnny Be Good"

I miss Gleason as that guy was hilarious and a fine character actor. Regardless, my spirits are high today as I have to slug through work before cutting out early and heading for the Austin City Limits music festival. This 3-day weekend is an endurance test, however, it should be a fine time filled with bands, beer and port-a-pots (don't care for that last one).

Before I head south towards Zilker Park, however, let's look at the hard stories of the week such as:

Pop star George Michael was arrested for possession of drugs (again).

The Sunday People newspaper said Michael, 45, was arrested in a public toilet in the north London suburb of Hampstead after being found in possession of crack cocaine and marijuana.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said: "I can confirm that a 45-year-old man was arrested on September 19 on suspicion of possession of drugs in the Hampstead Heath area."

I can confirm that man was George Michael, and that George Michael will be caught with drugs again in a public restroom and the only real question is whether another man will be involved as Michael generally likes to mix his pleasures.

Britney's little sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, is now reportedly the focus of a federal pornography investigation as TMZ reported that someone has attempted to sell pictures of Jamie Lynn breast-feeding her baby girl - and one of the photos shows Jamie Lynn's bare breast. Spears is a minor.

The photos were developed at a Louisiana Wal-Mart.

I feel bad for Spears in this case, but I bet the odds are high the breast-feeding pictures were taken of Spears inside a Wal-Mart - or Kentucky Fried Chicken.

David Blaine ended his latest stunt in New York this week amid claims he reneged on his pledge to hang upside down for 60 hours.

The 35-year-old magician was hoisted by his heels over the Wollmann ice rink in New York on Monday, stating he would remain that way until Wednesday night. However, he was seen taking regular breaks on his feet to drink liquids, urinate and undergo medical checks before ending the stunt with a "dive of death" off a 44 foot platform.

Blaine shrugged off criticism during the stunt, telling one interviewer that he was "not going to pee all over myself".

Personally, I have never understood Blaine's appeal and wouldn't mind if somebody shit on his chest.

Pregnant former porn star Jenna Jameson learned this week that she is expecting twins with her partner, Ultimate Fighting Champion Tito Ortiz, according to Perez Hilton. the mother of twins.

"They're having twins," a friend of the superstar told the celebrity blogger. "Jenna and Tito just found out. They are beyond thrilled!"

I'm glad they're thrilled because I have been ecstatic about Jameson's "twins" for years and years and years.

Clay Aiken finally confirmed that he is indeed gay this week as the cover of the latest People magazine shows Aiken holding his infant son, Parker Foster Aiken, with the headline: "Yes, I'm Gay."

Shocking. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

In other coming out news, Lindsay Lohan has finally confirmed the worst-kept secret of the year: she and constant companion Samantha Ronson are a couple.

The confession came on Monday night's episode of the "Loveline" radio show, when Lohan was pressed about her relationship with Ronson and asked how long they have been "together." "For a very long time," Lohan replied.

When asked how long it's been between credible acting jobs, Lohan also replied "a very long time."

Entertainment Tonight" obtained a court order this week which confirmed that Sharon Stone has lost physical custody of her 8-year-old son Roan, despite her court pleas to change the arrangement.

According to court documents, Phil Bronstein "shall have permanent sole physical custody of child. Court finds that Respondent (Sharon Stone) failed to meet her burden of proof and denies Respondent's (Sharon Stone's) request for modification of custody. The judge also notes this order is permanent unless there is a change of circumstances."

Reasons for the decision were murky, however, Stone's decision-making abilities were repeatedly called into question when Bronstein's lawyers screened "Basic Instinct 2" for the judge.

As always, let's end on a high note with:

I never feel shame while standing alone in the dark holding a balloon. So, follow your own path, feel free to dim the lights and use some helium and Happy Friday!


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Beating Back The Vegas Demons . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, September 23, 2008 17 comments

My contacts feel glued to my eyeballs and every piece of clothing I own smells like smoke. When I do close my eyes, I can still hear the sounds of the casino - chips being stacked, dice being flung and especially the slot machines with their tilt-a-whirl cadence which somehow remains a happy tune despite the mechanical arm movements and glazed expressions of virtually every player.

It was definitely time to leave Las Vegas.

Five days in Vegas is like staying two weeks in a normal city. I was ready to flee by day three, which is the maximum allotment that anyone should actually remain inside the city limits or at least those imposed by the glitzy Vegas hotel strip.

Even recent transplants to the city echoed these feelings. My cab driver, who delivered me from the airport to the Palazzo hotel, shook his head in disgust when I told him about my plans. He bitterly recounted his decision to move from San Diego to Vegas after one wild weekend convinced him that he needed to live in Sin City on a full-time basis.

He was wrong. And he bemoaned his choice during our 20-minute drive before dropping me at the front doors and then screeching off to pick up the next tourist.

My waiter at the Grand Luxe café had recently left Austin with his wife, and was still settling into the sea change. When he saw my driver's license was registered in Austin, he nearly misted up and then straightened his posture and did concede that once you got off the Strip then "Vegas wasn't quite so terrible."

Personally, I enjoy Vegas in small doses.

It has an insistent vitality that demands action. Unfortunately, that same action typically involves indulging in vices like pouring booze down your neck, gambling, dancing, decadent meals, strip clubs, poolside lounging and staying out until 3 a.m. doing all of the above. It is far from a restful vacation.

If you don't believe it, then simply watch the people departing from the Vegas airport on a Sunday afternoon. It is an ugly sight of burst capillaries, busted dreams and sunburns.

But before I found myself fleeing the city in dark sunglasses and a lighter wallet, I did have a pretty damn good time. The suite at the Palazzo was stellar as I was on the 39th floor with mountain views, 3 flat-screen TVs including one in the bathroom, and an aerial vantage point to watch the fireball fight at Treasure Island every night.

{View From Suite Window}

I wished I could have stayed inside more often, but the first part of the week found me working a trade-show, an event which brings with it a peculiar brand of brute ugliness. It's also semi-amazing how standing on your feet all day long can absolutely wreck your body.

Once my wife joined me, however, I was able to shed any work obligations and simply take in the Vegas spectacle. We drank at swank bars inside the Bellagio, Palazzo and Wynn hotels, ate several outstanding meals, hit the Canyon Ranch spa, saw the white tigers at the Mirage, and finally caught a Circue de Soleil show (which was fairly exceptional).

The only problem was the price tag as virtually everything on the Strip is semi-outlandish. The best free show we found was walking through the nicer hotels around 1 a.m. and trying to spot all the hookers. This was remarkably easy, although to be fair, a lot of people dress like professional working girls when they hit the Vegas city limits without accepting any cash.

When I wasn't taxing my credit cards on meals and drinks, I managed to lose at both Blackjack and sports gambling as I took my worst Vegas beating to date. Luckily, this didn't include a baseball bat attack like a Martin Scorcese picture, but it is still painful to drop $50 in five minutes when your dealer catches a run of cards that always total 21.

But now I'm back in Austin and trying to reacclimate to normal hours and activities. There are far fewer prostitutes running amok and I don't find myself inside massive buildings in the perpetual twilight that you find in every Las Vegas casino.

I won't say it wasn't fun, but a return to normalcy does have its merits.


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Survival In The Desert . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, September 16, 2008 13 comments

I guess I passed my first Las Vegas work test a few months ago because I was recently drafted to return to the desert.

Obviously, the salt shaker half-full of cocaine, the seventeen pairs of leopard-skin bikini underwear and the missing call girl didn't come back to haunt me. These things happen I suppose.

There's no time to reflect on that ugly episode, however, as my plane leaves in an hour, and the timing couldn't be better or worse depending on your perspective. I received a hefty bonus check yesterday, which is likely a horrendous scenario when you are leaving for Vegas the next day as that city will rob you blind before you even get to your hotel room.

But I plan to keep the blinders on until I reach my suite at the Palazzo, a new property that adjoins the Venetian. I will not spend any money except to tip the man who brings my luggage and then I'll try to hide out and only bet on college football games and blackjack - games of pure skill. Ha.

Doubtful. What I won't do is shove fistfulls of twenties down g-strings at the Spearmint Rhino or buy $14 cocktails as I have actual work to do and then my wife is joining me on the back end for the weekend.

I've never been in Vegas for more than 3 days before, and this extended amount of time makes me nervous. The nerves could crack, the spine might become faulty and untrustworthy and the back of my throat is already calling out with a powerful thirst while anticipating the dry, desert air.

Survival is key, and the only option. We'll see. So, have a hell of a good week and send any extra luck available out to Sin City as that's where I will be until next Monday.



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Thoughts on "Burn After Reading" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, September 15, 2008 10 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. Unless you are a Coen Brothers fanatic then the reduced price is the best option for this blackly comedic film.

Will I Own It On DVD: Doubtful. I admire the Coen's work, however, the only movies I own on DVD are "The Big Lebowski," "Raising Arizona," "Fargo," and "No Country For Old Men."

1) "Burn After Reading" is a remarkable departure from their last picture, the meditative "No Country For Old Men," as the Coen brothers move back towards comedy, albeit a dark one where espionage, adultery and murder via tomahawk are all elements which they utilize successfully.

2) That being said, 'Burn' feels like a minor Coen movie. It is not as randomly hilarious as "Raising Arizona" or as classically intricate as "The Big Lebowski," however, it does feature many familiar elements of the Coen brothers. The main problem I had was the weight or lack thereof as the movie broaches some heavy topics fueled with mistaken identities and murder and yet it feels like nothing is ever at stake.

3) But it is an enjoyable film. Much of that fact can be attributed to the cast, which appears to be having an excellent time and that translates well to viewers. Frances McDormand manages to ground the movie and give it a bit of dramatic weight while the supporting cast is also uniformly excellent with John Malkovich as the true stand-out.

4) The star power of George Clooney and Brad Pitt gained 'Burn' early traction, and both actors perform well. Pitt convincingly plays a moronic personal trainer with a skunk-streaked pompadour that almost rivals Javier Bardem's horrendous tonsorial cut in 'No Country.' It's interesting to watch Pitt shed nearly all of his brain cells for the role, and while it's a winning performance, he was a bit too manic and broad in certain scenes.

Clooney succeeds in virtually every scene as a Washington D.C. semi-spook and adulterous lothario with an affinity for wood flooring. Sporting a furry beard, Clooney appears relaxed throughout the film, and he builds a hilarious contraption with materials from the local hardware store which I'll keep a secret as it provides some of the biggest laughs.

5) All in all, "Burn After Reading" is a fine film that will entertain for 95 minutes and then disappear like a popcorn fart. I haven't thought of the movie once until writing this review, which happens quite often, but it also keeps 'Burn' into the middling ranks of Coen brothers movies for me.


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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, September 12, 2008 19 comments

"We've been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!" - Bill Murray, "Ghostbusters"

Since I heard they might be making a new Ghostbusters movie, it reminded me of the original, which was a fine piece of entertainment. I could use some laughs today as I've got a Friday work training and Hurricane Ike potentially causing some nasty storms in Austin this weekend.

But let's keep things light as we look at the hard stories of the week such as:

Actor Josh Hartnett is suing a British newspaper that claimed he was caught on camera enjoying a "sexual dalliance" with an unknown female in a London hotel room.

The Daily Mirror report suggested security bosses at the Soho Hotel verbally warned Hartnett last week after security cameras taped the alleged encounter. Hartnett is now seeking an apology and damages from the publication and his legal representatives have described the allegations as "not only untrue but a complete fabrication. ... defamatory and unsubstantiated."

The irony is that the sex tape is the best performance that Hartnett has given on film in years.

Stephen Colbert's DNA will be digitized and sent to the International Space Station, Comedy Central announced Monday. In October, video game designer Richard Garriott will travel to the station and deposit Colbert's genes for an "Immortality Drive."

"I am thrilled to have my DNA shot into space, as this brings me one step closer to my lifelong dream of being the baby at the end of 2001," Colbert said in a statement, referring to the 1968 landmark science fiction film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

I'm glad for Colbert's achievement, however, if I had to choose only one talk show host's DNA to shoot into space I would nominate Tyra Banks as long as her actual body went along with her genes.

Madonna dedicated her hit “Like a Virgin” to the pope at a sold-out concert in Rome over the weekend.

“I dedicate this song to the pope, because I’m a child of God. All of you are also children of God,” Madonna, 50, told the 60,000 fans that flocked to the Italian stop of her “Sticky & Sweet” world tour on Saturday.

Madonna later dedicated her song "Holiday" to Santa Claus.

Police arrested Kanye West at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday on suspicion of vandalism after an altercation with a photographer.

An airport spokesman says police also arrested West's road manager shortly before 8 a.m. Airport spokesman Marshall Lowe says early reports are that West got into an altercation with a commercial photographer and a camera valued at more than $10,000 was broken.

West was apparently angry that the photographer wouldn't take enough photos of him in his "fiercest pose in the universe" stance.

Actor Gary Coleman hit a pedestrian with his truck after arguing with him in a Salt Lake City bowling alley this past weekend.

Police Lieutenant Bill Wright said Colt Rushton, 24, and the former Diff'rent Strokes star, 40, got into the alleged altercation after Reston photographed Coleman. Wright said the argument continued outside, and that Coleman hit Rushton and a vehicle as he was backing out of a parking space.

Colston also tried to bowl Coleman down the lane to pick up a 7 - 10 Split, so I can't really blame Coleman for retaliating.

Naomi Campbell underwent surgery in Brazil earlier this year, and this week the supermodel revealed it was actually an operation that corrected her infertility.

Naomi says she can now do something she's always longed for -- have a family. "I was not able to have children up until March," she said. "Now it's in God's hands. I would love to have a family."

If God doesn't grant Campbell a family, she plans to throw a cell phone, curse and claw him into submission.

As always, let's end on a high note with:

Sometimes it pays to sit around and do nothing except ponder your own place in the universe. So, don't be afraid to let your mind wander today, always sit on something comfortable and . . . Happy Friday!


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Some Assembly Required . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, September 10, 2008 17 comments

Some Assembly Required is a misnomer is my loft. It doesn't mean that at all. Instead, it generally aligns with something closer to Some Pieces Missing, Success Not Guaranteed or most accurately, You're Basically Fucked.

I loathe the building process.

I have neither the patience, talent nor inclination for this line of work. My mood turns instantly black once I unload a box and then realize I must put the contraption together to resemble the item that looked so damn good on the showroom floor.

The past few years found me on a solid roll, however, as I successfully built a futon, a bistro table, a small bookcase and two end tables. But now, forces are conspiring against me. Last month, a coffee table played me for a fool and yesterday a new computer almost did the same.

My main issue with Some Assembly Required is the directions are getting worse. They were never good, but at least they used to have actual words and sentences associated with them.

Now, I'm finding that most companies are too lazy or too cheap to pay someone to write copy and instead, they simply give you a one-page sheet with lots of putrid diagrams where only a psychic could make sense of it all.

How am I supposed to figure out how to put something together when the pictures look like a Rorschach blotter or a raccoon humping a doorknob or virtually anything except the item I'm supposed to be building.

This brutal experience ruins the excitement of buying something when you know that a horrendous building process awaits you once you drag it home. I'm finding it is worth it to pay the extra money to have it built and delivered right to your door versus cussing at imaginary foes who draw like 3rd graders hopped up on Monster energy drinks.

Life is too short.


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Thoughts on "Tropic Thunder" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, September 08, 2008 11 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. This would be a fine choice for a comedic afternoon, although you might be able to justify full price if the thought of laughing with a full theater is a must for you to enjoy this type of film.

Will I Own It On DVD: Probably. I will likely buy this one when it drops in price to around $10.00.

1) "Tropic Thunder" is both broad and ruthless, Hollywood-skewering and action-oriented and consistently funny throughout the running time. The main group of Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. was inspired casting, and the filmmakers also filled the smaller roles extremely well as Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan and somewhat surprisingly Matthew McCaughney turn in stellar performances to guide this project along as it balances itself between comedy and over-the-top action sequences.

2) Stiller is hit and miss with me as I found him to be pretty damn funny in projects like "Dodgeball," "Zoolander" and "There's Something About Mary" yet wanted absolutely nothing to do with crap like "Meeting the Fockers" and "Along Came Polly." Stiller comes through with 'Thunder' from both a directing and acting perspective as this film has an edge unlike a lot of his projects the past few years.

3) There might be no other actor in Hollywood who could have pulled off the role of the African-American sergeant that Downey Jr. plays in 'Thunder.' It is a hilarious and ballsy go-for-broke acting job that could have been so offensively awful in other hands that it just re-enforces how good Downey Jr. can be in a variety of roles.

4) As good as everyone in the cast performs, Tom Cruise absolutely is the funniest thing about 'Tropic Thunder' as he gives a tour-de-force comic performance underneath a bald wig and fat suit to inhabit the role of a hairy, foul-mouthed studio executive with a penchant for dancing to hip hop music. Quite simply, Cruise hasn't been this good or magnetic since his role in "Magnolia" - another supporting turn - and it makes me think he should watch for interesting roles like this one because his leading man choices have been largely suspect for awhile.

5) All in all, "Tropic Thunder" was a frequently funny movie that wasn't quite as hilarious as I anticipated. That is mainly due to enlarged expectations on my part, and if you are looking for laughs at the end of a long summer, then go see this film as it will bring the Thunder. Ouch.


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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, September 05, 2008 19 comments

"I mean, I've heard that women do fake orgasms, but I've never seen it... It really, deeply upset me." - Russell Brand, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"

I concur, and think this might still be an urban legend or something that happens with all the frequency of a lunar eclipse. But let's not dwell too deeply on the subject when there are news stories to report such as:

Britney Spears will be opening the 25th annual edition of the MTV VMAs on Sunday at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, according to MTV's website. But this time the pop singer won't be performing as her role for the remains somewhat mysterious and undefined.

"MTV has long played an important role in my career," Spears said in a statement. "How can I not be there to kick off their 25th VMAs? I'm excited to open the entire show, to say hi to my fans and to be nominated."

Body glitter, snakes and Madonna have also played a large role, and if Spears can somehow combine all three into this show, then I will definitely tune in to watch.

Teenage mother Jamie Lynn Spears is reaching out to show her support to Bristol Palin, the daughter of John McCain's VP, Sarah Palin. It was reported that Jamie Lynn ordered a gift from the Beverly Hills baby store Petit Tresor to be sent to 17 year-old Bristol.

I believe the gift in question was an advance copy of Lynne Spear's forthcoming book on quality parenting.

James Gandolfini and Deborah Lin exchanged vows during a marriage ceremony in Honolulu on Saturday, People magazine reports.

"The Sopranos" star and the 40-year-old model were married at the Central Union Church in the bride's hometown, a wedding guest told the magazine.

Gandolfini wrote his own vows, which included his promise to "love and cherish Lin - my angel - unless you rat me or my family out to the Feds and in that case, you're dead."

Oscar-winning British actress Helen Mirren said she used to love cocaine, but stopped taking the drug after learning that a Nazi war criminal profited from the trade, according the British GQ magazine.

The 63-year-old, who won an Academy Award for her role in "The Queen," was quoted as saying:

"I loved coke. I never did a lot, just a little bit at parties. But what ended it for me was when they caught (Nazi war criminal) Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, in the early 80s. He was hiding in South America and living off the proceeds of being a cocaine baron. And I read that in the paper, and all the cards fell into place, and I saw how my little sniff of cocaine at a party had an absolute direct route to this ... horrible man in South America."

But Mirren did add that she misses the little white rails because "it made sex so much better."

Usher is preparing an intimate tour for ladies only as the R&B singer revealed in a recent interview with the Associated Press that he will soon announce details of his "One Night Stand" tour.

Usher said he relishes the challenge as "There's only a few artists that can pull that off. I feel like I've had such a connection with my audience. This album, I felt like, was definitely the type of one that was more intimate. So what better way to get up close and personal than to make it all women?"

In response, Clay Aiken immediately announced he would be embarking on a male-only tour or as it used to be called - Saturday night.

An anti-Scientology group plans to stage a protest when Katie Holmes takes to the stage for her Broadway debut next month to protest the religion and rescue Holmes "before it's too late."

The former "Dawson's Creek" star is due to begin her run in Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" at New York's Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on October 16.

I've got news for the protest group's efforts to save Holmes: It's too late.
But it's never too late for a stellar image, so let's end with this:

It's still hot enough to sweat easily in Austin even if you're not wearing clothes. If you do find yourself covered in profuse moisture, keep a firm hand on your balls, keep your posture intact and . . . Happy Friday!


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Thoughts on "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, September 02, 2008 16 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. This was a very enjoyable summer matinee film that will lose a little something if you wait for DVD when viewing the landscapes of Spain on the small screen.

Will I Own It On DVD: Probably not. I might purchase it as a heavily-discounted DVD (under $10), but I would like to receive it as a gift.

1) I'm not a big Woody Allen fan, however, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" forgoes several of his trademark qualities and instead provides a breezy sexual romp through various locales in Spain with a winning cast fronted by Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johannson and Penelope Cruz. The film is bathed in a honeyed light throughout the running time, which makes both Spain and the cast look very, very good.

2) Allen is still preoccupied with relationships, and this film explores various couplings from those who are engaged to a comfortable married couple and mainly a free love ethos that Bardem espouses which includes pairings with Johansson, Cruz and Rebecca Hall.

It's hard to decide which viewpoint or relationship that Allen holds up to be the ideal arrangement, and since he tends to lean towards all pairings having their own inherent difficulties, it could be an hour and a half justification for his own relationship with his adopted step-daughter - but I tend to doubt it.

3) Johansson looks great and is solid in her role as the sexually adventurous yet eternally dissatisfied American tourist, but it is Cruz who really gives the film laughs, passion and a manic energy that works well. It's semi-amazing how good Cruz has become since she arrived in America and began making movies as she used to annoy me quite a bit. Now, she has turned in several outstanding performances lately and this one is no exception.

That being said, the kiss between Johansonn and Cruz was not nearly as sexy as I thought it would be (but was still a fine idea to try).

4) Bardem also does an excellent job of grounding the film, and his sleepy, laid-back charisma gives credibility that his artist character could indeed manage to bed just about anyone who crosses his path. He's also lucky he has a regular haircut in this film, and not that dead otter look he sported in "No Country for Old Men."

5) I tend to loathe narration in movies as it is usually a very lazy way to tell a story. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" utilizes this device extensively, which grated me in places yet wasn't a show-stopper as it did help keep this film light and breezy and easy to digest as the summer winds down.


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