Challenge Week 31: Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco

It has been several years since I saw Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan, generally his best-known work and one that I enjoyed immensely, and I gotta thank Dan for pushing me into seeing more of Stillman’s work. After seeing these two, I definitely need to see Metropolitan again, since I’ve forgotten a lot of it.

For some reason, this type of film – which mostly consists of overeducated, unemployed or underemployed, not necessarily wealthy but very privileged people talking to each other – feels really comfortable to me. Maybe because I’ve spent most of my life being overeducated, underemployed, and unwealthy but privileged. It’s not quite like looking in a mirror, but I feel both comfortable and awkward around people like this. Some of Noah Baumbach’s films fit in the same category, especially Kicking and Screaming (which also, probably not coincidentally, shares cast member Chris Eigeman with Stillman’s trilogy) and Frances Ha.

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What I’m trying to say is that not much happens in these movies, really, but I really enjoyed watching them. Barcelona is about an American salesman (Ted) working in Barcelona, whose life is upended when his cousin Fred (here’s Chris Eigeman) comes to crash with him after being assigned by his naval command to smooth the way for the US Navy’s arrival in Barcelona (an unpopular move with the Spanish). I’ll admit that even a couple of weeks later, details of the plot and conversations are fuzzy, but I still ranked the film quite highly because, like I said, this is a very me movie and I did really love watching it. I plan to return to all three of these films when I have more time to digest them.

The Last Days of Disco is the third of the unofficial trilogy, set in the early 1980s among a group of twenty-somethings who mingle, hook up, unhook, and most TALK at a disco club. One of them (Chris Eigeman again) is a manager at the club, our two main women (played by Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale) are underpaid readers at a publishing company, another is an ad agent who brings clients to the disco even though the owner keeps booting him out, another is an assistant DA. All of them are highly educated and have that type of overintellectualized but ultimately shallow style of talking that I feel like I shouldn’t like but really do, even as they’re complaining about having to go in on a railroad apartment with two other girls because they can’t afford anything else.

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Sevigny as Alice is the anchor of this film, and her friendship with Beckinsale, which is often combative, or at least very passive-aggressive, especially on Beckinsale’s part, and I think that’s part of why I ultimately liked it quite a bit better than Barcelona. They’ve both got similar writing, character types, and tones, but the extra focus here on women and female friendship spoke to me more deeply. I’m a couple of weeks out from both of these films by the time I’m getting to write this, and I’m already looking forward to revisiting Last Days especially, and just hanging out with these people some more – even when they’re being terrible, as many of them often are (usually unintentionally). I mean, isn’t that what friendship is?

Okay, I mostly want to hang out with Alice. And also Chris Eigeman, whose characters aren’t good people, but are incredibly entertaining.

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Stats and stuff…

BARCELONA
1994, USA
written and directed by Whit Stillman
starring Taylor Nichols, Chris Eigeman, Tushka Bergen, Mira Sorvino

I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Barcelona entered my chart:

Barcelona > South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Barcelona > Red Road
Barcelona < Raw Deal
Barcelona < Cruel Intentions
Barcelona > Chasing Amy
Barcelona < Waking Life
Barcelona > Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Barcelona > The Navigator
Barcelona < The Good, the Bad, the Weird
Barcelona > Spirited Away
Barcelona > District B-13
Barcelona > Little Rural Riding Hood

Final #756 out of 3689 films on my chart (80%)

It is now my #3 Whit Stillman film, my #2 Chris Eigeman film, my #29 Comedy of Manners, my #21 Sophisticated Comedy, and my #10 film of 1994.

THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO
1998, USA
written and directed by Whit Stillman
starring Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Eigeman, Mackenzie Astin, Matt Keeslar, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Beals, Matt Ross, Tara Subkoff

Here’s how The Last Days of Disco entered my chart:

The Last Days of Disco > Dick
The Last Days of Disco > Hard Candy
The Last Days of Disco < Raw Deal
The Last Days of Disco > Cruel Intentions
The Last Days of Disco > Good Bye Lenin!
The Last Days of Disco > Safety Last
The Last Days of Disco > The Princess and the Warrior
The Last Days of Disco < Army of Darkness
The Last Days of Disco < Meshes of the Afternoon
The Last Days of Disco < A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Last Days of Disco < Written on the Wind
The Last Days of Disco < The Innkeepers

Final #490 out of 3690 films on my chart (87%)

It is now my #1 Whit Stillman film (I need to rewatch Metropolitan), my #1 Chloe Sevigny film, my #2 Kate Beckinsale film, my #1 Chris Eigeman film, my #17 Comedy of Manners, my #21 Coming of Age film, my #31 Ensemble Film, my #14 Sophisticated Comedy, and my #8 film of 1998.

These two films were recommended by Dan Heaton, a film blogger friend. Averaging together the #756 and #490 rankings of these films gives Dan an average ranking of 623.

A few more screenshots…

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tf-Last-Days-duo

tf-lastdays-Chris

tf-Last-Days-incredulous

tf-Last-Disco-Alice

  • So glad you enjoyed these Jandy! If you can locate it, I’d highly recommend the Amazon pilot for the Cosmopolitans, which is in the same wheelhouse. Damsels in Distress is also good, and I still need to see his new film. I cannot get enough of Chris Eigeman!