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April 16, 2012


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Keith Uhlich

Great call on the Rohmer comparison, "Tree, Mayor…" and all (indeed, what a double feature that would be). I was reminded of another nouvelle vague luminary—Jacques Rivette—and his melancholy musical "Up, Down, Fragile" while watching "Damsels."

Victor Morton

"the character played by Adam Brody describes how in his view 'decadence' has ruined homosexuality"

My memory of that point is a little different, that "decadence" itself isn't what it once was, though even that does lead back to the conclusion that you cite -- that "freedom" is to blame.


Criterion just announced July releases of Last Days & Metropolitan on bluray today.

David Ehrenstein

Glad you see the Rohmer connection. I've mentioned it in several places and long to chat with Stillman about it.

The characters he creates are only superficially "elite." As I'm sure everyone doubtless recalls one of the principle character in "Metropolitan" is poor -- a fact that his rich friends come to realize and don't hold against him in the slightest. They mya be "upper crust" but they're not snobs. He's part of the group, they all love him, and that's that. In the same way Violet in "Damsels" wants to spread her presumably sage advice to one and all. a fortiori her desire to invent a new dance craze couldn't be more democratic.

What I love about his characters is that you'll never catch them saying "I don't know why I'm doing this." They all come armed with often rather elaborate reasosn for their beliefs and behavior. Often as not they're misguided. But they manage to learn from their mistakes -- Violet being a perfect example.

So glad you know "The Tree The Mayor and the Mediatheque." Outside of "Percival" it's the clsoest thing Rohmer ever came to a musical. And it's big song finale matches the great restaging of "Things Are Looking Up" by Stillman in his "Damsels."

I laughed out loud at Adrien Brody's remark. Speaking as a 65 year-old gay activist I didn't find it offensive at all. Saying that if he were to be gay he would have preffered another era because today it's about "guys in muscle shirts hitting on each other" is perfectly a propos for a Stillman character.


Man, I hated this movie. I mean I really, really hated it. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve detested a movie this much since BENJAMIN BUTTON. I got so aggravated while watching it that I wanted to smoke cigarettes and start doing pushups. This thing is so hermetically sealed off from any recognizable human reality that it’s impossible to give a shit. The characters come off as nothing more than vessels for Stillman’s ostensibly witty words, though for me so much of the dialogue played like what would happen if Kevin Smith decided he wanted to start sounding like Frasier Crane. And it’s so smugly self-satisfied, and weirdly oblivious to its own unfunniness. I mean, I know comedy is subjective, and maybe someone out there thinks watching a dumb guy lose his shit over a rainbow is funny. I didn’t.


Was it a double rainbow? 'Cause a guy losing his shit over a double rainbow is definitely funny.

Jaime N. Christley

Guy losing his shit over the rainbow in DAMSELS way >>>>> Guy losing his shit over the double-rainbow in that YouTube vid.


Even funnier than the Auto-Tune song version of the double rainbow guy? Can't wait then.

Seriously though, I hope DAMSELS comes to my neck of the woods, but I don't think I can count on it. Probably have to wait for home vid.

Phil Freeman

You had me until you quoted Christgau...but that was the very last line of the piece, so I guess it worked out all right.

David Ehrenstein



Better a man loses his shit over a rainbow, than lose it over Rainbow Dash.


Riveting as always, Oliver_C...

Notice that Kenny has never once acknowledged you?

Maybe you're, I dunno, kinda stupid?


I masturbate to old Ruby-Spears cartoons, Lex. Anything's possible. On the other hand, I'm older than you but weigh less *AND* have more hair.

Now get back to your fucking telecine, Hemmingway, and hope the glare off your scalp doesn't mess up the gamma!

PS: Given that Glenn Kenny worked for a magazine that once devoted six pages -- or was it eight? -- to the movie career of (wait for it) Tonya Harding, what makes you think I care for his acknowledgment?

Mr Kenny, seriously -- (adopts voice of Josh from 'The Last Days of Disco') -- Ban this fucking clown.


PPS: My initial comment was of course a humorous dig at the so-called "brony" subculture (which even *I* have nothing to do with).


Hmmmmmm... Oliver_C's mush-headed screed was so wankery, I feel protective of LexG. So confused right now.

A similarly dull-witted associate of mine tried to argue that Stillman was the granddaddy of mumblecore. Ridiculous. For starters, the characters are far too articulate and even purposeful.


Be careful, Bob: such concern might prompt Lex to describe at length, in a repeat of his 'Hollywood Elsewhere' Jack Torrance homage, about just how he wants to stick his [REDACTED] in your [REDACTED].

Seriously, Lex, everybody -- I've had the likes of *Crusader Cat* (Google him) furious at me. After a fundamentalist Christian dressed like 'Mrs Sexy Kitty' from 'CSI: Fur and Loathing' threatens you with eternal damnation, well, Lex's sex-starved, anti-intellectual gonzo routine is penny-ante stuff.


Ooooohhhhhhhhh. Please ban yourself.


I re-post my anecdote from the earlier thread, just for the sake of hopefully not being the last one to comment again:
I attended a Q&A with Stillman last month and he was asked specifically about how he felt being mentioned in the same breath with the whole mumblecore thing.
Stillman said that he would like to think of his films as "mumblecore with better diction". Which, even in its joking slight, is a nice compliment to mumblecore in general, methinks.

If Stillman is 'proto-mumblecore' (a phrase I just made up that may not deserve to exist), I would prefer he be its Uncle to Rohmer's Grandfather, I guess. Plenty of others have made these connections, though the fact that the directors all have completely different approaches to the CINEMA of it all is kind of missing from the comparisons (just like how Dunham, Bujalski, and Aaron Katz are wildly different as well).

He was also asked about the "heightened reality" of his pictures, especially DAMSELS, to which he really didn't feel the need to explain himself. It is what it is; Obviously not reality.
I would like to think that, like Rohmer, he works less as an (WASP) anthropologist than as a champion of a Cinema of ideas.

Edward G.

I tried to work with Fred's comments about gays but the "I don't see the point." seems to be a sort of breaking point in that discussion. It seemed that way for most people in the theater. Until that sequence, everyone was laughing and enjoying the movie. Then 3 people directly in front of me walked out and 1 person behind me walked out. I found I was the only one laughing from there on out. I saw Stillman conveying what David Ehrenstein saw it as. Yet afterwards when trying to communicate why I was not offended, one friend said it is kind of odd that conversation occurs in a film that has no gay characters. This is a tough one. I liked the film but that sequence is really bothering me more.


And the thing is, I don't recall the confident, smiling gay dancers glimpsed repeatedly in 'Disco', with their body paint and leather gear, as being at all unwelcome, let alone "ruined".

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