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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Barcelona [Blu-ray]

 

(Whit Stillman, 1994)

 

Also part of Criterion Whit Stillman Trilogy Blu-ray package with Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco and Barcelona

  

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Castle Rock Entertainment

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #807

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:41.095

Disc Size: 46,529,584,715 bytes

Feature Size: 30,602,532,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.82 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: April 19th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2034 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2034 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:
Audio commentary from 2002 featuring Stillman and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols
New video essay by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about the trilogy made up of Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco and Barcelona (20:50)
The Making of “Barcelona,” a short documentary from 1994 featuring behind-the-scenes footage and on-set interviews with Stillman and cast members (5:31)
4 Deleted scenes and alternate ending, with commentary by Stillman, Eigeman, and Nichols (2:52 + 4:25)
Segment from a 1994 episode of the Today show featuring Stillman (5:08)
Episode of The Dick Cavett Show from 1991 with Stillman (24:31)

Episode of Charlie Rose (13:31)
Trailer (1:44)
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Haden Guest

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: Whit Stillman followed his delightful indie breakthrough Metropolitan with another clever and garrulous comedy of manners, this one with a darker edge. A pair of preppy yet constitutionally mismatched American cousins—a salesman and a navy officer—argue about romance and politics while working in the beautiful Spanish city of the film’s title. Set during the eighties, Barcelona explores topics both heady (American exceptionalism, Cold War foreign policy) and hilarious (the ins and outs of international dating, the proper shaving method) while remaining a constantly witty delight, featuring a sharp young cast that includes Taylor Nichols, Chris Eigeman, and Mira Sorvino.

 

 

The Film:

The second film from writer/director Whit Stillman, Barcelona is a smart, urbane comedy of manners set in Spain at the tail end of the Cold War. Taylor Nichols stars as Ted, an American salesman living in Barcelona. Out of the blue, he is visited by his acidic cousin Fred (Chris Eigeman), a U.S. Navy officer sent abroad to work damage control on rising anti-American sentiment. The textbook "Ugly American," Fred travels through the city in full military regalia, impervious to the constant taunts of "Fascist!" Like the similarly self-absorbed Ted, who has become involved with political activist Monsterrat (Tushka Bergen), Fred also finds romance, with a party girl played by Mira Sorvino. A brittle fish-out-of-water comedy, Barcelona is literate and sophisticated, a knowing essay on cultural identity and perception.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Writer/director Stillman again casts an affectionate eye on the foibles of preppy young Americans, this time two cousins all at sea in the sexual, moral and political whirl of a changing Old World. It's the 'last decade of the Cold War'. Ted (Nichols) is a young, serious-minded car-company executive getting over a failed affair, his recovery hardly helped when Fred (Eigeman) - a brash naval officer - turns up uninvited to stay in his Barcelona flat. When Fred starts 'borrowing' money from his host and meddling in his encounters with various girls, tensions between the pair come to a boil. An incisive comedy of misplaced American manners, this is for the most part a very funny portrait of immaturity deceived by its own ignorance and blinkered obstinacy. Agreed, it's harder to like or care about Ted and Fred as much as their younger (and therefore more forgivably deluded) counterparts in Stillman's earlier Metropolitan, and the story's sudden shift into life-and-death melodrama in the final reel is a little clumsy. But the film looks good, the performances are sharp and droll, and there's more than enough originality here to confirm Stillman as a distinctive, beguiling talent.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Barcelona looks predictably strong on Blu-ray from Criterion - much like their other two Stillman films in 1080P. There are rich grain textures from the tight, blemish-free visuals. This dual-layered Blu-ray, with max'ed out bitrate, reproducing a very strong 1080P, 185:1, presentation. Colors are true without unnecessary exuberance and their is no noise. Essentially flawless.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Criterion use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 2034 kbps (24-bit) in the original English. The film is almost exclusively dialogue-driven with some rain and car sounds. The score by Mark Suozzo (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco and many documentaries). It sounds clean and supportive. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion include the audio commentary from 2002 featuring Stillman and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols, previously found on the Warner DVD. It still has relevancy in talking about the film's themes are production process. There is a new, 20-minute, video essay by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about the trilogy made up of Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco and Barcelona and how they connect together. The Making of “Barcelona,” a 5.5-minute documentary from 1994 featuring behind-the-scenes footage and on-set interviews with Stillman and cast members. There are four deleted scenes and alternate ending taken from a rough cut of the film (without the usual final editing, sound mixing etc.), with optional commentary by Stillman, Eigeman, and Nichols. We get a 5-minute segment from a 1994 episode of the Today show featuring Stillman talking to host Katie Couric about making Barcelona after the success of his first film, Metropolitan. There is a 25-minute episode of The Dick Cavett Show from 1991 with Stillman talking about Metropolitan and his future filmmaking plans. There is a July 29th, 1994, 13-minute, episode of Charlie Rose featuring an interview with Stillman and lastly we have a trailer. The package has an essay by film scholar Haden Guest.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Barcelona is like Stillman's other films in the trilogy - cerebral and probing in very subtle ways. It challenges ideologies and touches on personal identity - certainly not for everyone but great cinema to revisit. This individual Blu-ray package is an easy recommendation although the
Whit Stillman Trilogy Blu-ray would be the best route to go for those who have not indulged in his work. These films have depth and dry humor - in the right mood - make for some highly relaxing and contemplative nights in the home theatre.

Gary Tooze

March 18th, 2016

Also part of Criterion Whit Stillman Trilogy Blu-ray package with Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco and Barcelona

  


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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