Ask a lover of Spanish cinema what Spain's equivalent of Hollywood is, and the obvious response will be Madrid; most of Spain's top actors and directors are based in Spain's largest city. Barcelona, meanwhile, is the city that dominates the Spanish porn industry; if Madrid is Spain's Hollywood, Barcelona is Spain's San Fernando Valley. But some excellent non-porn movies have been filmed (or partly filmed) in Barcelona, ranging from Pedro Almodóvar's Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother) to American director Whit Stillman's clever Barcelona. Stillman isn't the only American director who has filmed in Barcelona; the capitol of Cataluña (or Catalunya in Catalan) is where Woody Allen filmed his romantic comedy/drama Vicky Cristina Barcelona (starring Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Scarlett Johansson). In the liner notes, Allen explains that this soundtrack called for Spanish music but candidly admits that Spanish music isn't something he is terribly knowledgeable about. However, Allen obviously did his research, and the recordings that he chose are excellent. Although this 42-minute disc contains two sensuous vocal offerings by the Barcelona-based group Giulia y los Tellarini ("Barcelona" and "La Ley del Retiro"), most of the soundtrack focuses on instrumental flamenco guitar – specifically, flamenco of the nuevo flamenco variety.
Sexually adventurous Cristina and her friend Vicky, who is bright but cautious, holiday in Barcelona where they meet the celebrated and wholly seductive painter, Juan Antonio. Vicky is not about to dive into a sexual adventure being committed to her forthcoming marriage. But Cristina is immediately captivated by Juan Antonio's free spirit and his romantic allure is enhanced when she hears the delicious details of his divorce from fellow artist, the tempestuous Maria Elena.
If French-born composer, guitarist, and musical gypsy Stephane Wrembel's name was not familiar to mainstream jazz fans even as he released this, his stellar, eclectic, world music-driven fifth release, his music was certainly known to discerning film fans. Woody Allen used his tune "Big Brother" in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and he composed the theme to Midnight in Paris (entitled "Bistro Fada") which he performed live at the Oscars; he includes that whimsical, lilting tune on Origins, a set that explores his many influences.