Reviews of current movies in the theater...in one minute or less.
Vicky Christina Barcelona-- This one of those Woody Allen films that can either spur uncomfortable conversations with your significant other or bring back really fond memories of youthful indescretions. Either way, it's a film for grown ups and not your typical date film.
Vicky and Christina are best friends who are polar opposites when it comes to love--one is cautious and careful, the other spirited and carefree. One is engaged to be married, the other doesn't know what she wants in love--only what she doesn't want.
So naturally, (this is the movies, after all) they meet a swarthy, intense Spanish artist who wants to sleep with both of them and the ensuing entanglements leave both women wondering just what is important in their lives.
This is a very thoughtful movie that captures the passion and intensity of the kind of summer fling and experimentation that most everyone over the age of 28 has experienced at some point in their life--and might have you yearning for those days. The cast is outstanding--Penelope Cruz is brilliant, passionate and seductive, Javier Bardem is charming, swarthy and sexy, Rebecca Hall is perfectly cast as the earnest, straight-laced graduate student, and Scarlett Johannsen as her best friend exudes an easy, bohemian sexuality along the lines of Angelina Jolie. She's got that 'it' factor.
And for what it's worth, I went to graduate school with the narrator of the film, Christopher Evan Welch. It's nice to see school chums doing well, and part of the appeal of this film is bringing back fond memories of wilder, crazier times--like grad school.
Transsiberian-- As it turns out, there was an unintentional travel theme this night at the movies. I went to see Transsiberian mostly because I have always wanted to make this journey myself--ride the Transsiberian railway from Vladivostok to Amsterdam. After watching this travelogue of a vacation adventure gone seriously awry, I don't think I'm going to make the trip. Thanks a lot.
Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are in China as part of a church group helping kids--Harrelson is a bit of a nerdy, Iowa-bred train buff, so they decide to hop on the Transsiberian before catching their flight home. Along the way, they are befriended by the type of backpackers one encounters in out-of-the way locations--Eduardo Noriega as a drug-smuggling lothario and Kate Mara as the troubled American waif from a bad background who has been on the road for 7 years. Ben Kingsley is very effective as a Russian narcotics detective.
Bad things happen to everyone, and as a thriller/whodunit, the movie really only rates maybe a 7.5 out of 10. There's not a lot of suspense although the characters are compelling enough to be interesting. It's not a bad movie, but not great either. The Russian countryside also stars--having visited the Russian Far East several times, I can vouch that the movie captures my experiences and the feel of traveling in Russia. Except for the part about getting entangled in a Russian narcotics ring.
If the movie has any enduring message, it's a good reminder to never lose sight of your luggage when traveling overseas.