Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Revisiting An Old Favorite.

I'm cheap, so cheap that I don't rent movies, I borrow them from the library. It's actually a pretty good idea because instead of being bombarded by a wide selection of recent mediocrity, I find some gems from the past, movies that I've never seen or movies that I had almost forgotten.

One of those films is 1990's Metropolitan by Whit Stillman. I never intended to see the movie when I first saw it at the Angelika theater. My date, Marie and I had wanted to see the movie "Vincent and Theo" but the times in the paper were incorrect and we didn't want to wait another hour to see it, so we saw "Metropolitan" instead.

We had no idea what the movie would be about, no idea of the plot, the actors or whether it was in English but Marie and I decided to give it a shot.

The movie takes place in New York City's upper east side. It's about a bunch of young Old Money Debs and Preps who meets up with a declared socialist from the (gasp) upper west side middle class and takes him under their wing to hang out with theim. The guy, Tom is reluctant, but finds himself enjoying the company of the social elites he's supposed to despise. They talk and talk and the movie ends. Not much to recommend is there?

Well, actually it's the dialogue that makes this film. It's like the early 30's screwball comedies with its rapid fire verbal delivery. The words are absurd but come out naturally from the various characters. They seem like people you wouldn't want to know, But you grow to like them even with their flaws. The main female Audrey is adorable, not as gifted with the gab but able to disarm the gentlemen who are more gifted.

The most noted actor in the film is Chris Eigeman who plays Nick Smith. Nick is the cynic of the group. He knows who he is and what value his life is. He and Tom strike up an interesting friendship. Nick is an admitted snob but it was he who took Tom into his social circle. Tom, on the other hand admires Nick's candor and Audrey's passionate defense of bad Jane Austen books. Audrey takes a liking to Tom but Tom holds a torch for another woman who doesn't really care about him.

The movie is a valentine of New York City during Christmas time. It's low budget but since Whit Stillman grew up in upper class surroundings, he was able to film in the apartments of the peers. His empathy helped in creating well rounded characters. You actually get to like and identify with these privileged youngsters.

I had not seen the movie in over a decade. I picked up new things to like in the movie. One was the actress Dylan Hundley whose looks and acting style is like Scarlett Johanson and there was a scene in the bar with an older guy, probably 40 who was letting the younger crowd know what life is like when you don't become the success you thought you were going to be. One thing he said that hit home was when he would say he dreaded running into his more successful comtemporaries, especially when they asked what he does for a living. I always dread that question when I'm out here in Jersey. It was easier to deny my failure out in Seattle AKA Slacker City.

Anyway the movie moved me again. It's a reminder of how my hopes and dreams have not come true and yet I'm glad it hasn't at least the 1990 version of me. If you love Woody Allen, I'd give this one a shot.

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