I like Manohla Dargis. She’s one of my favorite film critics. She’s funny and smart (I’m good at describing people in an illuminating way) and she can elevate the Hollywood blockbuster into the rareified air of high art. Oh gross. I just won the Pulitzer Prize for Being The Worst. Anyway, I like Manohla Dargis a lot. But sometimes she goes a little overboard with the film critic-y thing, and elevates herself into the rarefied air of being ridiculous. Like in this opening paragraph from her review of the new Woody Allen movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona:
Bathed in light so lusciously golden and honeyed that you might be tempted to lick the screen, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a rueful comedy about two young American women who, during a summertime European idyll, savor many of the Continental delicacies that such travelers often take pleasure in: art, music, culture, yes, but also strange bodies and unexpected dreams. These bodies and dreams open possibilities for the women, intimating freer, somehow different lives, despite the persistent tugging of a voice that hovers at the edge of this story trying to pull it and its characters down to earth, where desire can fade quickly.
Lick the screen? Strange bodies and unexpected dreams? Well that sounds like the worst movie on Earth. (Admittedly, Strange Bodies and Unexpected Dreams is the name of my New Age album. I recorded it in Sedona. It’s spiritually intense.) This review reads like a review of Rochelle, Rochelle, the fake movie from Seinfeld about “a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.” But Rochelle, Rochelle was a joke about a terrible movie. What’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s excuse?