Essays on Whit Stillman, Cinema and Cities in 2008 & Wendy and Lucy

The Curator has recently posted some really interesting and insightful critical essays on film. Be sure to check out:

Rebecca Tirrell Talbot’s essay “Virtuous Fun in the Films of Whit Stillman.”

If you have never seen a film by Stillman I highly recommend you Netflix Metropolitan, Barcelona or The Last Days of Disco, and then read the fantastic book of critical essays, Doomed Bourgeois in Love, edited by Mark Henrie and published by the fantastic ISI publishers. In a sense, and Ms. Talbot makes reference to this idea, Stillman’s film are modern tales of manner, like a postmodern sort of Jane Austen. I also am reminded of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, notably Brideshead Revisited, one of my favorite novels ever written. Like Waugh and even Austen, Stillman’s films deal with upper class youngsters who are caught somewhere in between having everything but having nothing at the same time. Ms. Talbot does a really fantastic job elucidating just what makes Stillman’s films so powerful.

The Curator also has an insightful essay by film critic Mike Leary mysteriously entitled Where is Cinema: Some Cities and Films in 2008. The essays begins:

In his 1986 book about America, Baudrillard gets to Los Angeles and asks: “Where is the cinema?” His odd response: “It is all around you outside, all over the city, that marvelous, continuous performance of films and scenarios.” In France or the Netherlands, one walks out of a theater or gallery into a city that is the source text for the paintings and landscapes you have just seen. What Baudrillard discovered in his roundabout musing on Hollywood was a reversal of what he had become used to in Europe. In LA, it is the city that takes its cues from the cinema. If we want to figure out America we can’t start with our living spaces and think towards the cinema. Rather we have to begin there, in the continual flicker of our theaters, and realize that this is where society is born. Americans appear to live in screenscapes rather than actual landscapes.

Mr. Leary also commented recently on one of my favorite films of 2008, Wendy & Lucy. An excerpt:

If it weren’t for Reichardt’s poetic deliberation throughout the film, the only logical end for Wendy would be her eventual “re-victimization,” as Staley puts it. This quiet auteurist energy runs against the grain of the Kafkian senselessness of her predicament and the barely intelligible rhetoric of those few characters on the margin that could be considered as belonging to Wendy’s haphazard demographic. The effectiveness of her style, which also granted Old Joy an unexpected gravity, maintains her dignity as a mode of Reichardt’s response to all the social problems critiqued by the film. She “stands with” Wendy and “speaks her truth.”


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