Barcelona Blu-Ray Review - AVClub

AVClub: Whit Stillman tends to be cagey about when his movies take place. His 1990 debut, Metropolitan, claims to be set “not so long ago,” which is most likely sometime around 1970. Likewise, Barcelona, which joins the Criterion collection this week (both singly and as part of a Stillman box set with Metropolitan and The Last Days Of Disco), places the action, such as it is, during “the last decade of the Cold War.” That sounds flatly descriptive today, but it registered as a wry joke at the time of the film’s 1994 release, when the end of the Cold War was no more distant a memory than “Blurred Lines” and Frozen are now. All the same, Stillman was very much in earnest. The world had changed dramatically, almost overnight, and Barcelona—one of the few comedies ever made that’s explicitly about anti-American sentiments abroad (the only other example that springs to mind is Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three)—suddenly looked like a musty period piece. While that might have seemed disastrous to some filmmakers, Stillman is as much an anthropologist and sociologist as he is an artist. For him, instant archaism was a blessing, not a curse.

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