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Cause for hope: Penelope Cruz reunites with Woody Allen

Penelope Cruz, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," is reuniting with that film's writer-director, Woody Allen. (Click here for Entertainment Weekly's story.) It's hopeful news for fans of both. Critics used to say that Allen's best movies were about "sex in the head," as if his characters simply had to relax and let it travel through their bodies.

In the blissfully entertaining "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Cruz was part of an ensemble that let Allen dramatize -- gleefully -- how much residue sexual desire or experience leaves in the brain and gut and heart. Everyone in the cast was seductive, including Scarlett Johannson as Cristina, an artist looking for an art; Rebecca Hall as Vicky, a grad student studying Catalan culture; and Javier Bardem as Juan Antonio, a painter with romantic and critical reputations.

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But Cruz leapt out of the pack as a wild card -- Juan Antonio's ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz), herself an artist, as well as (to borrow a phrase from Sam Peckinpah) the poet laureate of manic depression. Cruz was ardor incarnate, and the picture's triumph was to show how Juan Antonio couldn't live with her or be fully happy without her. I can't wait to see what Cruz and Allen cook up next.

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