Movie Diary 12/28/2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008). When I miss a press screening, it usually means the movie slips by completely. But I wanted to see this one for possible ten-best accountings, so a nearly-empty Sunday matinee was just the ticket. As rumored, it is the director’s best in a while; the slack moments of latterday Allen are gone, and the tone is winningly droll rather than comic. It seems lazily convenient to shrug Scarlett Johansson’s character offscreen in the final twenty minutes or so, but the cast is engaging and the outsider’s fresh view of a city — Woody as Henry James, peering into the lives of the Europeans and their American visitors — is a profitable vein for the director.