February 17, 1995 in Seven

Under A Surface Of Little Substance, `Barcelona’ Is Bristling With Life

By The Spokesman-Review
 

If you’ll recall, there once was an emperor who wore an invisible suit. Everywhere he went, his subjects admired his new clothes.

Of course, we all know that the fool was wearing no clothes at all. His subjects, at least the more knowing ones, realized this, and snickered at their monarch’s stupidity whenever they thought he wasn’t watching.

The same could be said of director Whit Stillman, whose follow-up to his popular film “Metropolitan” is available this weekend. Titled “Barcelona,” it is an oddity that some film fans will think holds as much substance as the emperor’s clothes.

But here’s an alternative view: “Barcelona” is an entertaining, often hilarious-if-offbeat character study of two latter-day preppie types attempting to find love and fulfillment amid the anti-American atmosphere of early-‘80s Spain.

That era, for those old enough to recall it, was a tense time in history. In Stillman’s film, the ancient Spanish city is just getting over decades of Fascist rule. It seethes with terrorist bombings and shootings, limbo dancing and late-night sex.

At first glance, though, not much seems to happen during the film’s 100-minute-plus run. But that’s just Stillman’s style: He uses film for film’s sake and allows his characters (in the presences of actors Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman) to present themselves as they are, for better and for worse.

The result is humor wrapped up in a package that prompts us to smile, and sometimes even laugh out loud, at the foibles of human interaction. Rated PG-13. *** 1/2

A hold on Holden

Spokane reader Mary Jo Harvey has a special request: She wants to know the name of a film that she recalls seeing on cable television.

“(It) chronicled the story of a dying businessman who is returning to the mountain/wilderness home of his childhood,” Harvey writes. “He encounters, first resists and then befriends a young boy who was the sole survivor of an automobile accident in which both his parents perished. The film starred William Holden and, I believe, was his last film before his death.”

Going straight to the easiest-to-use, if not most authoritative source, Leonard Maltin’s “Movie and Video Guide,” I discovered the film’s title is “The Earthling.” Directed by Peter Collinson, this 1980 Australian production co-starred Ricky Schroder and Jack Thompson.

It wasn’t the last film of Holden’s to be released. That honor belongs to the 1981 Blake Edwards effort “S.O.B.,” But, yes, it is available on video.

As for where you can find it in Spokane, the first major chain store I called had it in stock. You shouldn’t have any trouble renting a copy.

Recommended rental

Jack Lindbergh, owner of Street Music, says his most-rented film may be the erotic offering by Japanese director Nagisa Oshima titled “In the Realm of the Senses.” But Lindbergh says Oshima’s 1978 film “In the Realm of Passion” (also titled “Empire of Passion”) is better. It is a ghost story involving a man murdered by his unfaithful wife and her lover.

Recent releases

A Good Man In Africa

**

Bruce Beresford tries to affect a tone of cynical satire in this look at bumbling British foreign policy in an African nation going modern. But he falters. Colin Friels is just too unlikable as the protagonist, an ambitious foreign service underling who fouls up every aspect of his mission so that by the time he actually learns a lesson, we don’t care. Sean Connery as a conscientious doctor, John Lithgow as a pompous diplomat and Louis Gossett Jr. as a duplicitous African leader are always watchable. Rated R.

MEMO: This sidebar ran with story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW Available this weekend: “Natural Born Killers” (Warner), “The Next Karate Kid” (Columbia TriStar), “The Scout” (Fox), “Revenge of the Nerd IV: Nerds in Love” (Fox), “In the Army Now” (Hollywood), “Barcelona” (New Line), “A Good Man in Africa” (MCA/Universal), “The L’il Rascals” (MCA/Universal). Available on Tuesday: “Andre” (Paramount), “Carnosaur 2” (New Horizons), “Timecop” (MCA/ Universal), “Fresh” (Hollywood), “Dangerous Indiscretions” (Paramount), “A Million to Juan” (Prism).

This sidebar ran with story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW Available this weekend: “Natural Born Killers” (Warner), “The Next Karate Kid” (Columbia TriStar), “The Scout” (Fox), “Revenge of the Nerd IV: Nerds in Love” (Fox), “In the Army Now” (Hollywood), “Barcelona” (New Line), “A Good Man in Africa” (MCA/Universal), “The L’il Rascals” (MCA/Universal). Available on Tuesday: “Andre” (Paramount), “Carnosaur 2” (New Horizons), “Timecop” (MCA/ Universal), “Fresh” (Hollywood), “Dangerous Indiscretions” (Paramount), “A Million to Juan” (Prism).


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