What to do in Barcelona today, Tuesday, July 20, 2021

There is an unwritten rule in the world of exhibition that establishes which are the most suitable genres for each time of year. For example, terror usually arrives in autumn-winter, when the cold begins to make its appearance. According to those rules, summer is the right time for comedies (including musicals) and action comedies and great special effects, pure entertainment, in short. Just check it by watching the programming of the multiple Open-air cinemas. The Film Library of Catalonia has decided to defy all principles and dedicate these months to gender more inappropriate: melodrama, which is usually identified with winter. But, in addition, they have decided to relate and link them so that they can dialogue with each other in an interesting cycle: Cross melodramas.

Poor, rich and triangles

The next three films are about lives of rich and poor who aspire to more as the protagonist of The merchant of the four stations (1971, days 16 and 22), by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He is a humble itinerant fruit vendor from Munich who leads a bitter existence devoid of self-esteem and takes refuge in alcohol and violence. The most radical contrast comes with the protagonist family of Written on the wind (1956, day 17), some oil magnates who live in the opulence between alcohol, endless stairs, huge mirrors and garish colors, but they also have their secrets. The curiosity is that the story inspired the famous series Dallas. These films can also take place in great landscapes What Days in the sky (1978, days 20 and 24), the precious film with the Oscar-winning photograph of the Cuban-Catalan Néstor Almendros who discovered Terrence Malick. Richard Gere and Brooke Adams are a couple who left Chicago in 1916 to emigrate to Texas in search of a better life and they will do everything possible to get out of misery. There will be blood (Wells of ambition, 2007, days 21 and 27) is another portrait of greed Through the figure of a man (Daniel Day Lewis) who, at the same time, tries to make his fortune and becomes a tycoon when he finds oil, but his principles will falter.

The next group counts great triangular stories of love, crime and betrayal starting with the masterful silent tape Dawn (1927, days 22 and 28) in which a peasant, at the urging of a fatal woman, decides to kill his wife during a trip but, on the way, he falls in love with her again. Match Point (2005, days 23 and 28), by Woody Allen, tells how a young tennis player without resources manages to enter high society by marrying the daughter of a millionaire but, deep down, he is in love with a passionate aspiring actress. On Two lovers (2008, days 25 and 28) is Joaquin Phoenix who is torn between the woman who would give stability to his life and the one who tempts him by putting him on the edge of the abyss. Finally, Rachel Weisz is the wife of an important British judge in the 1950s in The deep blue sea (2011, days 27 and 31), but her whole life changes when she meets a former aviation pilot and is willing to do anything for him.

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Selfless love and abuse

The impossible and selfless loves and blindness mark the next triptych. Sublime obsession (1935, August 29 and 3) tells of the unlikely relationship between a capricious millionaire and a woman who is left a widow and blind after an accident caused by her irresponsible attitude. This circumstance makes him reflect and he decides to dedicate his life to trying to compensate her anonymously. In 1954 his remake (Obsession) now in a luxurious Technicolor and with a stellar couple, Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman (August 30 and 4), with few plot differences but more glamour. No less exciting is City Lights (1931, August 30 and 5), Charles Chaplin’s silent classic where the tramp tries to get money to get his sight back to a blind flower seller with whom he has fallen in love.

August will open the little known, but considered forerunner of feminism, Madame Beudet is smiling (1923, days 3 and 7) in a cycle about abusive men and women who rebel against them. She is a young lover of culture, especially music and books, but her husband is a textile entrepreneur, with simpler tastes and friends. Gas light (1944, days 4 and 8) was a great success at the time, the tense story of a woman who, after marrying a pianist, thinks she is going crazy in the mansion of her aunt, an opera singer who was murdered. . and up to here we can read. Martha (1974, days 5 and 10), also has the signature of Fassbinder and tells of a husband who bullies and mistreats his wife forbidding her to leave the house and see her friends until she asks a former co-worker for help. The world of work is also fertile ground for this type of behavior, as shown Phantom thread (The invisible thread, 2017, days 6 and 10) about a prestigious and detailed couturier who, with the excuse of the creative process, manipulates his muse, model and lover to the limit.

Sacrificed women

The sacrifice of women presides over the following block, of literary origin, headed by two versions of a novel by Stefan Zweig, Letter from a stranger. The first is Just yesterday (1933, days 6 and 14) about a man who, about to commit suicide in the middle of the crash of 29, reads a letter from a woman with whom he had an affair and discovers what he loved. The Letter from a stranger by Max Ophüls (1948, days 7 and 11) told the same story but with some changes, it took place in Vienna at the beginning of the century and was more faithful to the original. On The house of joy (2000, days 11 and 14), based on the novel by Edith Warton, Gillian Anderson (File X) She is a woman who wants to make a good marriage to enter high society by sacrificing her true love, but things will not turn out as expected. Finally, the Portuguese Revenge of a woman (2012, days 12 and 17), is a free adaptation of the famous The diabolical, by Barbey d’Aureyville about a libertine aristocrat bored with life after having savored all its pleasures to spare. But the appearance of a mysterious woman will break his schemes. The cycle will continue in the following weeks of August with new melodramas of passions, raptured loves and feelings on the surface which we will review in a future article.


‘Cross melodramas’

Where? Filmoteca de Catalunya (Plaza Salvador Seguí, 1-9).

When? different days and hours until the end of August.

Price: from 3 to 4 euros.

More information: Film Library of Catalonia.

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