This is from my son’s Tumblr page. I hesitate to call it a blog because Tumblr is just a couple of steps above 4chan and people have been known to post some really objectionable and unedited material there.
For some reason, my son’s discussion of American director Whit Stillman’s film Metropolitan tweaked the nose of the hipster-gioisie milieu in which he lives and moves and has his being. I’m just impressed that any 21 year old knows who Wit Stillman and Chris Eigeman are.
Who knows. Maybe soon he and his friends will be discussing Charles Fourier.
now im going to make an AMV using clips of chris eigeman and chief keef
okay alex i will tell you my feels on Metropolitan and Stillman in general
In a way, I think American cinema needs a director like Stillman. Irony has been kind of a constant in a lot of popular film here and most of our beloved films have had some ironic schematic orchestrating a lot of a movie’s interactions with the audience, especially when addressing the class system of the United States. That’s why I think a lot of people enjoy Anderson because his films are really biting of the American upperclass and utilize a lot of ironic movement to generate humor. As American movie goers, we’ve become desensitized to the “plight” of the American bourgeois, a reality to people like Stillman and a welcomed circumstance that has been lampooned by people like Franzen in The Corrections and by Wes Anderson over the years, and its common for us to treat people who have definitive power and influence in our society with a lot of derision. However, the way we do this is by introducing our own vocabulary, our own manners (an important word to use when describing Stillman) and making it the primary lens from which we view this world. We view these people as alien, kind of remote, and the only way we have of relating to them is through antagonism or by taking the rich out of their frame of reference and putting them in ours, because it reflects the struggle of rich vs. poor that we’ve been taught is the reality (“the rich raise your income taxes, they live better than you do and don’t care about you, kim kardashian spent a ludicrous amount of money for a wedding and got divorced in three months isn’t that fucking ridiculous i could have paid off my student loans with 1/64th of her budget for that wedding”). And because these feelings or conceptions are the immediate response to imagery exemplary of the upper class, it is easier and simpler to make film that takes them out of their context and places them in our own and makes fun of them. Stillman proves that you don’t have to go through the effort of taking the rich out of context to make fun of them because the rich are capable of doing this on their own homefield.
I can understand why people dislike Stillman. He isn’t ironic in his films at all. This goes against our expectations of depictions of the upper class in film to be! Stillman isn’t crude, ironic, or chastising of the upperclass in his film and we absolutely, positively despise him for it sometimes. We want to see these people punished or stumble because it makes us feel better about our selves (this is some pretty basic shit that goes all the way back to Aristotle’sPoetics and what not) but Stillman won’t let us have the satisfaction. That’s because Stillman is a part of that world and that world has its own rules on how and why people fail, and to have his characters fail to such a point that they’d be brought to our stature is disingenuous to his characters, his experience, and to the rules of that reality. Really, when you first watch his films you feel a bit uncomfortable and annoyed that these people who clearly live better than you do and dress better than you do are having a good time and aren’t suffering, but then you watch them do things and talk about interesting things and you start laughing because, jesus christ these people are doomed and they know it.
To me, Stillman’s documenting the fall of an empire. He’s a chronologist of the privileged in America and he knows that the upper-class identity has been smudged by popular culture. I don’t think he’s trying to defend it in any way, but he is definitely trying to preserve some truths about that culture that the American audience isn’t exposed to. Metropolitan is a funny movie because it’s 100% American bourgeois and it’s genuine in its depiction of both the good and bad of that culture and does so without taking the culture out of context. I think a lot of people complain about the movie being 90% conversation, but fuck Louis Malle took a movie about two friends eating dinner and talking and made it really captivating so don’t tell me shit about how a movie about people talking is boring okay last time i checked people thought lost was a great show and you can literally reduce it to a clip reel of people reacting to shit. These conversations were definitely ones I could see myself having with people if I ever had the chance to run into such opinionated, quickwitted young people, or made the effort to leave my bedroom to see James, Andrew, Cass, or Galeon more. Really, it’s watching these people who have this structure of manners in place and seeing them being so unmannerly by it that makes Metropolitan such a great film. I think Nick has some great moments in that film that make you really sympathetic to him as a character and sympathetic of his awareness that his world is becoming more and more ephemeral with each passing day.
At the same time I’m really attracted to Carolyn Farina.
tl;dr i can understand why people hate stillman and Metropolitan but that is because he isn’t playing by our game in the first place and we want him to because we think our game is the only one worth playing