Sunday, September 6, 2015

Barcelona (1994)

Director: Whit Stillman
Writer:    Whit Stillman
Cast:       Taylor Nichols, Chris Eigeman, Tushka Bergen

Ted, a stuffy white guy from Illinois working in sales for the Barcelona office of a US corporation, is paid an unexpected visit by his somewhat less stuffy cousin Fred, who is an officer in the US Navy. Over the next few months, both their lives are irrevocably altered by the events which follow Fred's arrival, events which are the trivial stuff of a comedy of manners at first but which gradually grow increasingly dramatic.

Yeah right, it is not a post on how Capello's Milan raped the favorites, Cryuff's Barcelona, 4-0 in the 1994 Champions League final. I had recently discovered Whit Stillman through his debut film 'Metropolitan'. This is his second film after a long gap of four years and he had a significantly higer budget of $3 million to work with. It took me about three weeks to obtain the 1.7GB print and it was totally worth it because of the exquisite way it is visualized. Barcelona frequently figures at top among the best cities to visit/live lists and lent itself very well for films. We are now very familiar with such English films set in European cities with Woody Allen filming his recent ones there. One could really say Whit Stillman got there first, but then again, considerable Woody Allen influence is there in Stillman's films itself.

In 'Metropolitan', we had rich kids from privileged background fretting about the hate that other people have for them and worrying about downward social mobility. Instead of that, we have two American guys fretting about the hate that people from other nationalities have for American, quite unreasonably in their opinion. That and other things like why Europeans look down upon US 'culture', which Americans themselves accept in a self-deprecating manner. It is summed up in the below conversation.
Fred: Maybe you can clarify something for me. Since I've been, you know, waiting for the fleet to show up, I've read a lot, and...
Ted: Really?
Fred: And one of the things that keeps popping up is this about "subtext." Plays, novels, songs - they all have a "subtext," which I take to mean a hidden message or import of some kind. So subtext we know. But what do you call the message or meaning that's right there on the surface, completely open and obvious? They never talk about that. What do you call what's above the subtext?
Ted: The text.
Fred: OK, that's right, but they never talk about that.

It is tremendously funny like you would expect and is a must watch if you are a fan of Woody Allen. Film is quite hard to describe and best way to do is to say it is like a Woody Allen film. Stillman's first three films are supposed to be part of a trilogy with the third and last one being 'Last Days Of Disco', which I am going to watch pretty soon. Both Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman were in Metropolitan as well.

Marta: Ramon is very persuasive, and he painted a terrible picture of what it would be like for her to live the rest of her life in America, with all of its crime, consumerism, and vulgarity. All those loud, badly dressed, fat people watching their eighty channels of television and visiting shopping malls. The plastic throw-everything-away society with its notorious violence and racism. And finally, the total lack of culture.

Rating: 4/5