Monday, March 12, 2007

I warn you - he's a Fourierist

Ah, Spring Break. We actually got to watch a movie last night, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan. I believe I'm correct in saying that Metropolitan didn't make it to DVD until quite recently - at any rate, I only just bought our copy last week. This is a great example of a work that did not make a good first impression on me when I first saw it with friends in a New Haven theater in 1990. (No, I didn't go to Yale - but I married well!) Although I was probably surrounded by the kinds of characters the film explores, I was completely mystified by the whole preppy/debutante thing so none of the situations made any sense to me. I might as well have been watching a movie that assumed knowledge of social behaviour among sea monkeys.

I still find it be an oddly paced and unevenly acted movie, but Stillman does a great job of making these people both ridiculous and noble. It's a knowing nostalgia that sympathizes with its subject while also skewering it. Even the chivalric rescue scene at the end (Tom and Charlie storming a Hamptons' party with their preppy scarves flowing) is equal parts heroic and absurd. ("I warn you - he's a Fourierist.") So many great lines, but my favorites are always those delivered with deadpan simplicity such as when Tom and Charlie barge in on Sally's date. They exit and Charlie says, "That was really embarrassing - thank you for including me."

I understand that Stillman was probably working with a shoestring budget, but I also find the garage orchestra soundtrack to be unsatisfying. As with so many Woody Allen movies, it seems as if the director is just playing music he likes, but Allen does a much better job of choosing music that complements what's going on. Maybe it's just the jazz trombone title music that annoys me.

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