Stillman, Rohmer and Drying Paint

I’m a fan of Whit Stillman‘s Barcelona and Metropolitan, but I was squirming in my seat as I watched Damsels in Distress at last September’s Toronto Film Festival. Many are okay with it, I realize, but to me it felt too mannered and self-conscious, and arch to a fare-thee-well. But I need to see it again now because Glenn Kenny has figured out a way for people like me to enjoy it — he’s cracked the code.

I just have to pretend that I’m watching an Eric Rohmer film, and the clouds will then part. At least partly. Okay, Kenny hasn’t precisely said “do this and you’ll find your way into the ‘off’ mood of Stillman’s film and maybe enjoy it a bit more,” but he’s certainly suggested it. To me anyway.

Kenny’s experiment would probably work even better, I’m thinking, if Stillman had shot a French-language version so it could be shown with English subtitles. 25 or 30 years ago Andrew Sarris described what he called the “Russian Tea Room syndrome.” It basically meant that sophisticated cineastes could enjoy material if presented in a foreign tongue with subtitles, but serve the same dish with American actors and accents and they’d have a problem with it.

11 thoughts on “Stillman, Rohmer and Drying Paint


    Again, I suppose I’m flattered by these notices. Yet I can’t help thinking that something is missing…maybe a kind of transcendence that only living under the tenets of a certain oligarchy can provide….but I’m boring myself again.

    I’m really starting to get into this LexG fellow full throttle, as the kids say. I just watched The Keep ’83 and bought some Tangerine Dream. The rascals at my yacht club don’t know what to make of it. I CERTAINLY don’t know what to make of it.


    Are we sure Stillman and Lena Dunham aren’t the same person? They both raise my blood pressure to an unsafe, off the charts degree.

  3. Parks: Just a friendly suggestion, but your schtick would likely greatly benefit from an increased injection of the Kaned one.

  4. Glenn has changed my movieviewing habits forever!

    From now on, when I watch DePalma, I will pretend Hitchcock.

    When I watch Cameron, I will imagine Lean.

    When I watch Burton, I will dream Powell.

    When I watch Berg, I…the drugs don’t work.

  5. I think this works. I was playing around with the language options on my AI dvd some years ago and turned on the French language track and it greatly improved the movie. The dialogue read better than it sounded from those actors.

  6. The rascals at my yacht club don’t know what to make of it. I CERTAINLY don’t know what to make of it.

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