Not New Movie Roundup III

I swear — honest to God — I was going to see the Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman romantic comedy “No Strings Attached.” I was. But there was a traffic problem Tuesday night so The Wife couldn’t get home in time for me to get to the theater, and then Wednesday I was lazy and Thursday there was a snowstorm and well, here we are.

So I checked the DVR and found one movie I hadn’t reviewed yet, and then I looked through the screeners I hadn’t watched yet and, well, here we go:

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is an odd film, even for Woody Allen. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two young, attractive women spending a few months in Barcelona. Christina is a free spirit, Vicky is more conservative. Vicky is also engaged to be married.

On their first night in Spain, the ladies are approached by an artist named Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who invites them to go away with him for the weekend. Sex with both, or just one, of the women would be appreciated.

Vicky is aghast but Cristina is intrigued so soon the trio are in a small airplane flying through a rainstorm. After a day of sightseeing, Vicky goes to her room while Cristina joins Juan. But Cristina falls ill before they can do the deed.

With her friend bedridden, Vicky reluctantly agrees to spend the next day with Juan. It will come as no surprise that despite her protests, Vicky ends up in bed with Juan. They share a love connection so strong it makes Vicky doubt her plans, but then Cristina recovers so Vicky steps aside.

Cristina moves in with Juan but soon they are joined by Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz), Juan’s flamboyant ex-wife. Juan and Maria still love each other passionately but they get along like fire and ice. They discover that having Cristina around makes them work better as a couple, or a trio if you will.

There’s more to the story but not much more. It just kinda ambles along until time for V and C to go home. The scenery is pretty, the actresses are pretty and I suppose Javier Bardem is pretty if you’re into that kind of thing. Mildly entertaining. When I was done with it I had no desire to keep it on the DVR.

Greenberg is yet another movie about a damaged, unlikable fellow and the nice, attractive woman who falls in love with him. Yes, it’s a fantasy.

Greta Gerwig stars as Florence, a young woman working as a personal assistant to Phillip Greenberg’s (Chris Messina) affluent family in L.A. When the family goes on vacation, they leave the house with Phillip’s brother Roger (Ben Stiller).

Roger has just finished a stay at a hospital, and not for medical reasons. He’s a carpenter living in New York now, but he used to be a musician when he lived in L.A.

Roger doesn’t drive, so to get around he must rely on Florence or his old bandmate and friend Ivan (Rhys Ifans). He passes the time building a dog house and writing letters of complaint to various officials and businesses.

“Greenberg” is a dark comedy that isn’t bad but I didn’t care for it. Stiller does a good job as the title character, but he’s such a jerk it was hard to sympathize with him. Even harder was figuring out why Florence was attracted to him. His bi-polar behavior around her would surely be a turn-off to any sane person.

Babies. Yes, I watched “Babies.” The things I do for you people. I watched it mainly because it had the shortest run-time of my remaining movies and I’ll do anything to put off watching “Get Him to the Greek.”

This documentary looks at a year in the life of four babies from Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo. There’s no narration, no subtitles, no dialogue of any significance. There’s a good deal of babies’ crying, laughing and making baby sounds.

I get what they’re going for, but it doesn’t really work. Without narration, or any kind of context, we’re just watching four families’ home movies spliced together. And they’re not even spliced together well. Some scenes go on too long (like any scene involving crying), and some are cut off that are crying for a resolution.

What am I supposed to be getting from this film? That babies are adorable? Duh. That babies are the same all over the world? Color me shocked. If I’m supposed to draw lessons from this movie, here’s what I learned:

Mongolian parents should really watch their kids closer. There are no men in Namibia. Japanese parents like to keep their babies stimulated with classes and trips to the zoo and stuff. Animals are far more tolerant of babies than they should be. Namibian women sit around all day while their kids play nearby. And they do a lot of breast-feeding.

Strangely, I can’t remember the American baby doing anything memorable.


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