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Ancient Rome

Going to see To Rome with Love with the geriatric New York crowd is like going to an old age home where they laugh aloud at the corniest fucking two-bit Comedians who entertain their humdrum life. Sadly in this case the Comic in question is my dear Woody Allen (one of my personal heroes). Once long ago it was funny to watch the Woodman whine and complain, chalking it up to being just a neurotic New Yorker – where as now he just reminds me of my annoying Grandparents and every other condescending old fart who thinks by reading The Times and listening to NPR they are entitled some opinion on today’s modern society and pop culture trends. Combine those opiate of the masses with Woody’s latest inspiration, Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, and waste the price of a ticket at the dumpiest theater in New York City, The Angelika. (But what do you expect when most old fogey’s pay for HD TVs and Cable when they haven’t even a clue what the fuck an HDMI cable is?) I of course have never read the 14th-century medieval allegory and admit – never heard of it. Maybe it’s because I’m too busy analyzing and deconstructing Fifty Shades of Grey for a course I’m teaching together with Marshall McLuhan at Columbia called TV Media, and Culture.

Anyway, as usual the star studded cast waived their A-list fee to have a chance to work with Woody. But unfortunately their only consolation is kicking it in Rome for a few weeks on the company’s dime because their performances left for posterity are too painful to credit or watch. Specially the doomed fatal love story between architect student Jesse Eisenberg and name dropping freeloader Juno – whom is cast as a beguiling and intriguing tortured artist when all she’s really playing is her usual know-it-all skank-ass self. Still the most unbearable bit is Roberto Benigni who is reduced to being a symbol and commentary for Woody’s notion of the fickleness and vacuous of modern tabloid celebritydom, which is far from irreverent and instead just plain retarded.

The other unfunny story line is Woody’s – who, as a retired music agent, discovers a Mortician’s hidden talent to sing pitch perfect Opera in a shower!! Now isn’t that just a hoot? Well it was to the old fossils sitting behind me who were still laughing as Fabio Armiliato was sudsing it up well into the third act.

There are other vignettes to top off this shit show but if I told you the premise you wouldn’t believe me…like that Woman who gets lost in Rome looking for a hair salon…nevermind. As Woody makes a pathetic attempt to bookend the movie with a narrating Traffic Cop I only found myself wishing he’d be run over by a fucking Vespa! I know I should respect my elders but when in Rome these Geezers belong in the Catacombs.

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Woody’s Friendos in Barcelona

After the debacle of Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream, Woody Allen redeems himself with his fourth consecutive movie shot outside his beloved Manhattan. With a stellar cast, Vicky Cristina Barcelona erases the memory of Colin Farrell and Hugh Jackman. Unlike those posers, Javier Bardem tosses aside flipping coins and his captive bolt pistol from No Country for Old Men for a painters brush and an eye for beautiful American tourists (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) vacationing in Spain for the summer, trying to coax them into a menage a trois by seducing them with their artistic notions of spanish guitar, architecture and wine. But just when you think this trio is wrought with erotic lesbian tension Scarlett finds she can’t hold her liquor, even with the additional weight of her huge ass melons, and Javier and newly engaged Rebecca end up in the dark unwittingly shagging in the bushes.

Yet this episode is just the setup for the introduction to Javier’s ex-suicidal wife, Penelope Cruz, who reveals what a true tortured romantic artist really is through her genuine latin passion, her flights of fancy and raw emotion juxtaposed to those self absorbed Americans. Rounding off this ensemble, Rebecca’s husband (Chris Messina) takes time off from his high powered, social climbing, Wall St. job with the intention of getting married in Barcelona where we see what a dweeb he is compared to Javier who makes out like a bandit by screwing all three girls before he even arrives.

However, with the standard love triangle scenario, Woody shows a different angle of clashing cultures through a brief summer love affair (shot in Spain’s gorgeous light) and how New Yorkers may be too preoccupied with their own neurotic issues of stability and identity and are out of touch with the kind of unadulterated passion and love like the Spaniards. On a sour note, what boggles me is not the use of a narration but that it’s narrated by some dude who reminded me of Bill Scott’s George of the Jungle and Super Chicken and not Woody himself, along with the repetitive one song latin soundtrack from it’s opening to closing credits by Giulia y los Tellarini to help remind you where the movie is set called, “Barcelona”.

Menage a Trois?

 

 

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