Monday, October 17, 2005

Whit Stillman

"Urban Haute Bourgeoisie" in Manhattan et al ...

literature about literary film language Posted by Picasa

What is a blog for if not to be able to convey the respective blogger's idiosyncrasies? I'm unashamedly an Art movie type of cinema goer and I prefer an intelligent and complex dialogue (or an adaptation of Jane Austen's superb language) to any special effects, no matter how hyper-pyrotechnic they might be. The best and most efficient "literary dialogue" that has been script-written in the US in recent years belongs, in my view, to Mr Whit Stillman, who happens to direct himself those priceless jewels.

"Metropolitan" (1990), "Barcelona" (1994) and "The Last Days of Disco" (1998) have gathered such a recognition as something simultaneously fresh and classical in American cinema that a collection of critical essays on these films have recently been published. Entitled "Doomed. Bourgeois. In Love ", using the self-definition of the characters in "Metropolitan" , and edited by Mr Mark C. Henrie, it's a must-read for Stillman groupies like myself.

As Henrie points out: " Democratic and meritocratic America has never had much time for gentility, and radical ideologies in principle despise the well-born. For these reasons, the gentlefolk tend to appear in our popular art either as villains or as fools. But Stillman's films insist that there were (and are) true virtues to be found in this class and its ideals."

If the Honourable Reader might feel sometimes tempted to indulge in Anti-Americanism from a supposedly Cultural High Ground position, sniping at provincial and child-like Americans, this little book and in particular the viewing of Stillman's films will cure you of that infantile disease.

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