326, 485, 807 A Whit Stillman Trilogy

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Bob Furmanek
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:59 am

Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#126 Post by Bob Furmanek » Thu May 28, 2009 2:42 pm

If anybody's wondering, the theater used in this film for the disco sequences is Loew's Jersey, in Jersey City. It's a spectacular 3,300 seat movie palace just minutes from mid-town Manhattan. I helped to save the theater from demolition in the early 90's, and LDOD was one of the first to utilize the lobby space (and other areas) for a film shoot. In fact, I was one of two volunteers on the project hired to work the DISCO shoot and spent MANY long hours supervising the film-makers and their handling of the building.

Film buffs may be interested to know the Jersey has a pretty active classic film program, all shown in 35mm with carbon arc illumination. This weekend, they're running a brand new print of THE UNINVITED with REBECCA. If you've never seen a classic film in a vintage movie palace, here's your opportunity!

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maxbelmont
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#127 Post by maxbelmont » Sun May 31, 2009 4:44 am

John Cope wrote:I don't think that's the main issue for this film's critics anyway; it's the way these characters express themselves and the fact that Stillman's satire is not more pronounced. But if it was any more pronounced it would be insufferable. It's handled with a gentle touch and genuine affection because, guess what, Stillman doesn't hate his characters. Should he? Based on what? It's funny to me to see such vitriol tossed around about those who people Stillman's films (especially in the ostensible "defense" by CRT). I rarely see that same level of rancor aimed at Woody Allen's sniping narcissists for instance or really any other representative social class as being on their own terms miserable to spend time around. At the very least that indicates an inability to see any recognizable human traits in the Stillman-ites which is inane as such things are there in abundance. Is there a litmus test characters must pass to be approved for our sympathy? For my part, I'm always grateful to be in the company of Stillman's characters and, though I acknowledge the satirical angle, it is primarily because I deeply appreciate the model of society they perpetuate. God forbid.

Having said all that I will admit that I do prefer Stillman's first two films, especially the great Metropolitan, as those two are arguably more successful in terms of the careful balance of structure and character building. Metropolitan's accomplishment is particularly impressive as the film itself is so necessarily diaphanous it all feels like it could blow away with the wind.
I always appreciate your posts especially when it comes to films that we both love. I think Stillman's Metropolitan is a brilliant film and a great example for the argument of whether we would or would not hang out with the characters in Stillman's films. Edward Clements character, Tom, is the perfect example for this argument. Tom wants to hang out with these characters. It's almost if Stillman wrote the character of Tom with the majority of his fanbase in mind. I don't want to speak for other people, but I would be Tom's character.

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#128 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:23 pm

Being a fan of Frasier helped me find the characters a lot less insufferable.

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knives
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#129 Post by knives » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:31 am

Seinfeld for me.

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John Cope
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#130 Post by John Cope » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:33 pm

Zach Campbell has posted his really quite wonderful reflections on the film.

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gokinsmen
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#131 Post by gokinsmen » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:34 am

Sorry to bump an old thread, but a quick thought. In light of all this conversation over how Stillman's dialogue is unrealistic (agree) and awful (disagree), I find it hilariously fitting that the posts in this thread could easily be adapted into a Metropolitan-style scene:

INT. MANHATTAN APARTMENT -- NIGHT

Charlie: The appeal of the film escapes me.
Jane: How could you say that?
Charlie: Seemed to me to be an amateurishly written Evelyn Waugh novel improbably set in NY in the 1990s with bad acting. I found it unwatchable. I cut it off after 30 minutes.
Cynthia: People who don't watch an entire film should be barred from discussing it negatively.
Nick: I feel pretty safe in the assumption that Napoleon Dynamite didn't get any better.
Cynthia: It didn't, but at least I've actually seen it.
Audrey: Don't you see? Part of Stillman's daring is to see culture and education as valuable characteristics, even when they are in the shape of unformed potential. He assumes we get the fact that these people are relatable because they are emotionally vulnerable in a similar human way to us all. They share our insecurities and fragilities, our dependent neediness.
Tom: I never thought about it like that.
Nick: I have to admit...frequent shots of nubile, young girls in scantily-clad clothing are always welcome.
Fred: I'll drink to that.

/end scene

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davebert
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#132 Post by davebert » Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:55 pm

New Yorkers take note: MoMA is screening the film on August 5th as part of its PopRally get-the-youth-in-the-museum program, with Q&A after with Stillman and Eigeman, cocktails beforehand and reception afterward. Should be a lot of fun and tickets are cheap ($8 in advance).

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Antoine Doinel
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#133 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:06 pm

No offense to MoMA, but they are going to be sorely disappointed by the age group that shows up for The Last Days Of Disco. That, or their definition of youth is "anyone under 70".

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cdnchris
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#134 Post by cdnchris » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:21 pm


Powell&Pressburger
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#135 Post by Powell&Pressburger » Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:29 pm

Another title that came out too soon to be released on BD. I just want all their titles day / date on BD also. This is the worst thing making the awful decision of not buying a standard DVD title and then Criterion thinks no one is interested since the sales may seem lower... they are lower cause we want the BD.

The fact the HD transfer is mentioned on the commentary track is rough for the buyers cause Criterion needed to put the brakes on the release fully and do the BD at the same time.

This should be true for all their releases going forward.

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domino harvey
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#136 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:05 pm


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tartarlamb
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#137 Post by tartarlamb » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:36 pm

gokinsmen wrote:/end scene
Ha! Good job.

I just saw this and wasn't expecting to like it much, since I come from pretty much the opposite background as these trust fund monsters, and the trust fund kids I know are usually horrible, vapid, faux-bohemian hipsters with no personality and no compass for social and economic issues. But I found the same fly-on-the-wall (or maybe rubber-necking train wreck) satisfaction at watching these very awful people running through their lives like a poorly written comedy of manners. The dialogue didn't bother me for a second -- theatrical comedy is bound to be more wordy and contrived than anything in real life if its worth spit.

Tom is a great character. At first a principled working class fish-out-of-water, but gradually turning into just another aristocratic loafer taking a taxi to the Hamptons. A nice little snipe at the social chameleon in all of us.

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starmanof51
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#138 Post by starmanof51 » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:11 pm

gokinsmen wrote:/end scene
=D>
Which reminds me I wanted to flesh out a snarky but unsupportable blog post positing Metropolitan as a thinly-disguised rewrite of The Sun Also Rises:

Tom= Tyrone Power
Charlie= Mel Ferrer
Nick= Errol Flynn
Audrey= a nice girl version of Ava Gardner

and the bullfighter is that bastard Rick Von Sloneker.

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Venom
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#139 Post by Venom » Sun Aug 30, 2009 2:47 am

Great film but...no Village People songs?

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#140 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:38 pm

I had a Chris Eigeman day sort of experience when I watched this at long last with Kicking and Screaming last night. I had expected it to be less charming than Barcelona and Disco, but I was glad to be proved wrong. I almost like it more than his later films now. It got on my good side because it was so unrelentingly funny - due in good part to Eigeman's undiluted cattiness - and had so many good characters. I wish that Stillman's later films had had such large ensembles as this one. I loved this film and really look forward to watching it again. It was funny that in an interview on the Kicking and Screaming supplements, Eigeman said he had no idea what he was doing in Metropolitan. I say funny because here he seemed totally composed and perfectly relaxed. I have no idea what his misgivings might have been, but here I think he knocked it out of the park. Seeing Taylor Nichols was a delight and his character was a hoot as it reminded me of a close friend. I also liked Carolyn Farina and Allison Parisi - did any of these actors have continuing careers? - but it made me wish that their ilk was better represented in Stillman's films. Did anyone else get the feeling that movie was a weird parody of John Hughes? All in all, a wonderful film.

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Belmondo
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#141 Post by Belmondo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:38 pm

It is becoming my favorite, too. Carolyn Farina can be seen for about ten more seconds in "Last Days of Disco" - Stillman points her out on the commentary track.

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dad1153
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#142 Post by dad1153 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:29 pm

Caught "Metropolitan" on Sundance Channel (DVR), first time seeing it in over a decade. Any movie in which preppy, care-free, rich and (relatively) smart NYC kids discuss Buñuel's "Discreet Charm of the Bourgeois," the merits of Jane Austen novels they haven't read and the perpetual rivalry between the Upper & West Sides of Manhattan (which is silly because everybody knows the Upper West Side rulz! :-") is OK on my book as long as Whit Stillman writes the script and directs the actors. The man has a knack for not only capturing the way educated young people talk to make themselves look smart while saying nothing important (I'm looking at you Charlie), but to make such easily-demonizable characters into lovable fools trapped by the circumstance of their upbringing that we (OK, I) enjoy spending time with. Chris Eigeman's Nick (who had an equally strong turn in "Barcelona") personifies the contradictions that make a Stillman character click (he steals the movie from Edward Clement's Tom even though he's supposed to be the audience surrogate) but I have a soft spot in my heart for Carolyn Farina's Molly Ringwald-like portrayal of 'innocent' Audrey. Seeing this movie again after many years makes me want to seek out the Criterion disc so I can hear war stories about how it was made in the commentary track. Loved it. :)

jojo
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#143 Post by jojo » Tue May 11, 2010 2:30 pm

I've been slowly going through Whitman's (rather limited) output and I have to say, his appeal still hasn't diminished for me yet, even though most of his films (that I've seen) are all rather similar in conceit and trajectory, just with the settings and time periods slightly altered.

Like most of the posters in this thread, I neither belong to nor do I enjoy the group of people Stillman seems so fond of (and, I believe, he is probably part of). But there is something fascinating in the way Stillman's characters affect an air of importance and intellectual self satisfaction yet still remain amusing, even likeable at times. He has a knack for cracking open the "humanity", if you will, of these spoiled trust-fund types without having them "break" essential character or status. Even Tom himself is basically the same pretentious blowhard at the end of the film as he was when he was just "the poor kid". However, I'm quite sure the "real" people Stillman's characters are based on are far harder in attitude, far more guarded, and less easy nuts to "crack". In that sense, the characters here are unrealistically endearing.

I think the slightly stiff acting in Stillman's films comes from his actors grappling with his highly overwritten dialogue. It's tough to read these lines naturally. It's the same problem with the TV series Gilmore Girls, where whole, pseudo-intellectual monologues are jammed into 3 minute run-on soundbytes. Still, I do feel the dialogue is the main part of his status in critical circles as an "auteur". Everyone in his films talks the same way, they're all basically Stillman--they may behave differently, but they're really all voice pieces for him.

Despite those seemingly negative observations (or perhaps, because of), films like Metropolitan and LDOD remain highly fascinating viewing for me.

ianungstad
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#144 Post by ianungstad » Sun Jun 20, 2010 5:01 pm

I thought this was easily the worst film Criterion has released in some time.

Stillman makes one poor decision after another in this picture. Technically it's horrible. The scenes in the nightclub were particularly awful. Stillman shoots all the dialog scenes with the music turned down so that all the characters are literally standing on or around the dance floor talking to each other in a normal tone of voice instead of having to shout over the music. (Maybe he thought his audience would be too dumb to notice?) The club is also bright and overly lit. Looks more like a movie set than any nightclub I've ever seen!

The script is also terrible. The whole money laundering plot goes nowhere and distracts from the film's thematic elements. It's sole existence seems to be to give the film a more traditional narrative structure but it instead detracts from the overall experience. The film spends all this time introducing the supporting character Dan in the beginning of the film and sets up this arc where he's dating the roommate...then the character vanishes for 2/3 of the movie but suddenly pops up in the end of the film to share a moment of reflection on the death of disco with the leads. It feels like they shot a lot more with the character but it ended up on the cutting room floor. Bizarre and amateurish, IMO~

I have found all the Focus Features stuff that Criterion has licensed so far to be quite poor.

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captveg
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#145 Post by captveg » Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:43 pm

I'm just gonna say that when I watched the film a few months ago I loved every minute of it. Since that opinion will likely get me flogged on this forum, I'll just move along now.

Napoleon
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#146 Post by Napoleon » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:49 am

ianungstad wrote:The film spends all this time introducing the supporting character Dan in the beginning of the film and sets up this arc where he's dating the roommate...then the character vanishes for 2/3 of the movie but suddenly pops up in the end of the film to share a moment of reflection on the death of disco with the leads.
Characters in Stillman films have a habit of disappearing for huge chunks. I've always found that this reflects life where people do disappear for months or years on end then turn up again and it's like they were never gone. But that's just me. Whether that was Stillman's intention or a by-product of his editting I couldn't say.


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Jeff
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Re: 326, 485 Metropolitan & The Last Days of Disco

#148 Post by Jeff » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:47 pm

Blu-rays announced for July

jojo
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Re: 485 The Last Days of Disco

#149 Post by jojo » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:00 pm

Good. I was looking around to buy the DVD recently but I had a feeling it was going to be re-released on blu soon. Good to know my hunch was correct.

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knives
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Re: 326 Metropolitan

#150 Post by knives » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:10 pm

I think it's more complex than that, but if it were endorsing a right wing philosophy (I don't think Stillman puts his feelings onto the characters like that) it is certainly not conservatism.

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