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Eat Pray Love (2010)

Maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic. It’s just the world that is and the only real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.

— Elizabeth Gilbert

I haven’t heard glowing remarks for Ryan Murphy latest directorial effort, Eat Pray Love, based on the best-selling novel. I was in the mood to see fluffy romantic comedy, because I was having a crappy day. Well, the movie did not put me in a better mood.

Julia Roberts plays a travel writer named Elizabeth Gilbert. She travels to the most gorgeous places in the world, but she doesn’t have the best life. Her husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup) is very unsure about what he wants to do with his life. It causes conflict with the two, because Elizabeth wants to have kids, but she sees that will never be the case. At a party, Stephen holds Delia’s(Viola Davis) baby like hold a big bag of poop.

Liz have an epiphany when she is reminded of the words from a wise man from one of the places she visited, Bali, Ketut (Hadi Subiyanto) that she will have a major change and that she will come back to find herself. Liz decides to leave her husband, but she winds up in the arms of a vegetarian actor, David (James Franco). Their relationship is on the fast track, but Liz reminds herself that she has either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy.

She wants to take a vacation for a year to find herself and find inner peace. Her loved ones think that she is a fool for doing such a thing. She wants to visit Italy to find comfort with herself, India to reconcile her mind and body and finally Bali to fulfill Ketut’s prediction for her.

I thought that the movie was going to be like Under the Tuscan Sun where a woman is in a crossroads in her life and she is trying to find herself. I get that what was Ryan Murphy’s intention, but it did not translate well on-screen to me. I saw glimmers of it here and there, but not that much to keep me interested in the story.

There is something about Julia Roberts that bothers me. I don’t know if it’s the way her face looks, those three veins protruding out of her forehand that freaks me out.

You have a solid cast with Richard Jenkins as Richard, a man from Texas trying to have a solace in an ashram or Javier Bardem as a businessman who is trying to woo Liz. The story was rushed is some ways and dragged on in others. I kept thinking throughout the movie, when will it be over? It was over two hours long. It felt like five.

Judgment: There was a choice of watching the theatrical or the director’s cut, I thought why bother with the director’s cut.

Rating: 4.5/10

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)


Here is another movie that have been nominated for 4 Golden Globes recently. Best Actor for Javier Bardem, Best Actress for Rebecca Hall, Best Supporting Actress for Penélope Cruz and Best Picture – Comedy.

This is a movie that I actually liked. It was showing at one movie theater here in Houston. I saw the movie yesterday.

This movies is the latest Woody Allen movie in European tour after he abandoned his beloved New York City behind a couple of years ago. After I was disappointed with his latest efforts, I was surprised that I loved this film. I heard that Allen was offered some money from the Spanish government to film a movie there. Here Vicky Cristina Barcelona is born.

The movie is about a pair of friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) visiting Barcelona for a couple of months. Vicky is a timid college student that is studying the Catalan culture of Spain. She is engaged to Doug (Chris Messina) that is working in New York. Cristina is free-spirited woman that does not want to led a boring life. She is trying to find herself and passion for something more in life.

They stay in the house of Vicky’s distant relative, Judy Nash (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband, Mark(Kevin Dunn).

One night when they are out at an art gallery, they meet a broodingly handsome painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Cristina is immediately attracted to him. Out to dinner, they run into Juan Antonio, who blatantly propositions them to a threesome at his house in Oviedo. Vicky brutally rebuffs him, but Cristina is gung-ho about bedding down a total stranger.

Eventually, romantic entanglements occur between Vicky and Juan Antonio, Cristina and Juan Antonio and also between Cristina, Juan Antonio and his spitfire ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz).

Everybody was salivating with the kiss between Cristina and Maria Elena. It was very sweet. Nothing sexual.

During the course of the film, the personalities between Cristina and Vicky switch. Cristina wants to be in a monogamous relationship with Juan Antonio, but Maria Elena is a complication in the matter. Vicky takes a chance at being reckless with her relationship toward Juan Antonio and her engagement to Doug.

I liked this movie better than “Scoop” or “Cassandra’s Dream.” It was on par with “Match Point.” The scenery was wonderful. It reminded me of the time when I visited Spain over a decade ago. Fond memories.

I will say that I have a problem with the narration by Christopher Evan Welch. It does not need to be in this movie. I think it was very lazy in that respect. Why can’t we have silence? Contemplation? I wanted to have that period to reflect the action of action. I don’t need everything being spelled out to me.

Lastly, I think that Woody Allen did a disservice for the Spanish characters in this movie. The male as the stereotypical Latin lover/Lothario character and the female as the spitfire. Really, Woody? We have seen these archetypes again and again.

My rating: ***1/2 stars.

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