Barcelona by Whit Stillman – let’s choo choo!
Let’s hope that Whit Stillman’s new film Damsels in Distress is actually distributed in the UK. It’s true that he makes films with lots of words in them when that is almost a capital offence… Stillman’s films are literate and digressive [not theatrical, as in filmed theatrical dialogue] in ways that makes him a radical in contemporary English-language cinema. Yes, he films people actually talking, even discussing things; insane!
I love Whit Stillman, if only because it’s so rare an experience to sit in a cinema watching people talking in nutty depth with sometimes, ok; often, arcane and boilingly funny riffs, and have missed the big hit his films give since his apparent swansong; The Last Days of Disco. It may be only that the rarity of the experience explains the appeal to me, but acute it is.
Without wishing to damn him forever by celebrating his ‘freedom’ from the market to a very large extent [albeit one that has resulted in a long inability to make a film], it is great to see that he has made another film without the almost completely ubiquitous and unremarked pandering that so dominates English-language cinema [and this is cinema, essentially part of a mainstream culture, albeit right on a fringe].
He says in the clip here that the budget for this film was a bit more generous than the non-budget for his first film, Metropolitan [which benefitted from personal access to expensive-seeming locations] but that it was in that kind of ball-park. So in the hundreds of thousands or very low millions of dollars; unmakeable! [He also has a witty line on his enjoyment of tap dancing and lessons on the length of a take…]
It reminds me of another rare interview which was also in The Guardian back in 2006 and experienced by me at the time like monsoon rain; Confessions of a serial drifter here.
I’ve just come across a site/blog too, with lots of news and updates on the new film here. Go on, it’s fine; it took me too long in life to realise that I should cherish the very few things out there that aren’t quite identical to all the rest and be glad -unashamedly glad- of them too -instead of being bottomlessly exacting or über-critical as I teetered on toe-nails to catch a glimpse of sought horizons. In a storm at sea you grab anything that floats…
One reviewer of the recent screening at Venice writes; “Newcomers to his work might take a few scenes to adjust to his exactingly verbal, language-besotted humor, which can turn on a single line from sweetly daffy to cuttingly perceptive — if “black whimsy” is a genre, he’s still one of its foremost practitioners — but should be lured in by the frisky pace of the piece, not to mention its luxuriance of finely whittled one-liners.”
In any case, Stillman is the real thing, the rest will rot away…
NB Distribution-wise, doesn’t look good; Damsels is not part of the London Film Festival.