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Doomed Bourgeois in Love : Essays on the Films of Whit Stillman Paperback – November 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882926706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882926701
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The contributors...have a great many shrewd and illuminating things to say about Stillman and his art..." -- National Review

From the Back Cover

Doomed. Bourgeois. In Love. With those words, used in advertising copy to promote his first film, Academy Award-nominated writer-director Whit Stillman debuted his peculiar comic genius. At once class-conscious, theory-laden, nostalgically romantic, and deflatingly ironic, Stillman has charmed thousands (though he doubtless hoped for millions) of viewers. His three comedies of manners--Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco--sparkle with urbane and ironic wit. But they also betray the presence of a profound social commentary. Themselves charmed, and therefore intrigued, by Stillman's art, the writers gath-ered here by Mark C. Henrie have each applied their consid-erable critical intelligences in an effort to uncover the political, social, and religious purposes so cleverly hidden in the comedy. These essays contend that Stillman's art is an effort to "ironize" our ironic age; as such, they constitute a major achievement of Christian humanism in our time. "Anyone who enjoys Whit Stillman's movies--which really ought to be everyone, East Side, West Side, Uptown, Downtown--will be grateful for this thoughtful and highly readable collection of essays on his art and inner meanings."--Christopher Buckley, author of Wry Martinis and Thank You for Smoking "One often hears literate people sigh, 'Why are movies today so awful? What happened to dialogue, to manners, to moral depth?' Then along came Whit Stillman, whose movie Metropolitan instantly demonstrated that, against all odds, it was still possible to make movies that were both serious and fun, mannerly and full of life. Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco confirmed the triumph. Whit Stillman is already a national treasure. This fine collection of essays, as wide-ranging as they are well written, does what the best criticism always does: whets one's appetite for Whit. This is a book to be read in daylight hours; in the evening, you will want to watch and rewatch the films of a young American master."--Roger Kimball, The New Criterion "Stillman is the Balzac of the ironic class, the Dickens of people with too much inner life."--Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post "If F. Scott Fitzgerald were to return to life, he would feel at home in a Whit Stillman movie. Stillman listens to how people talk, and knows what it reveals about them. His characters have been supplied by their Ivy League schools with the techniques but not the subjects of intelligent conversation, and so they discuss "The Lady and the Tramp" with the kind of self-congratulatory earnestness that French students would reserve for Marx and Freud."--Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Critical reaction to the films of Whit Stillman seems to be divided between those who detest his sympathetic treatment of "snotty preppies" and "yuppie scum" and those who find his characters' ironic dialogue so intelligently amusing that they have dubbed him "the WASP Woody Allen." If like me you are among the latter group rather than the former, this book is for you. The nine main essays are written by academics--but only a few of the writers seem to have a background in film criticism, and the essays have an elegance and freshness all too rare in academia today. These are the kinds of essays Cleanth Brooks or Robert Penn Warren would have written had those old New Critics turned their attention to film rather than poetry. And what was surprising even for a Stillman fan like me is that they have sifted the films so carefully that there now can be no doubt: Whit Stillman is not merely an intelligent comic writer/director, he is a major artist.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a very good collection of scholarly essays examining the films of Whit Stillman. Presumably, this mean the films are being studied in film classes in our colleges and universities, which means academia is giving these films the respect they deserve.

Essays look at the Stillman's ability to persuade typically reluctant audiences to accept many of the values and conventions educated people are usually taught to scorn. They range from American foreign policy in the Cold War, to disco music, to the writings of Dale Carnegie.
While obviously written for use as a film studies textbook, these essays are also easy enough to understand and enjoy for the average reader as well.
Here's hoping the book soon becomes outdated as Stillman turns out a series of additional films. But until then, these essays look at three of the most brilliant movies of the 1990s. Enjoy them, and then enjoy reading about them, too.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Until I read the above reviews, I never even realized that this book might be meant for university courses! The writing is so fresh and fun and accessible that I'd just assumed it was for Stillman fans like me who, after watching each of his films multiple times, still crave more! Until Stillman comes out with a new film, books about the old films will just have to suffice, I suppose. This is a very readable book. If you, like me, just can't get enough of Whit Stillman, you'll enjoy this book. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I really disagree with some of the authors on some points; some of the reasoning seems a bit forced. Example: Audrey decided to accompany Cynthia to Rick van Sloneker's for the express purpose of seeing if Tom would come rescue her??!! Give me a break. Still, overall it's a great read if you've seen all the films.
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12 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
We need a book about the fine, vivid, beautiful film art of Whit Stillman, but not this one. An extraordinarily foolish and clunky collection of (mis)readings which calls to mind D.W. Harding's famous observation about the novels of Jane Austen: works which appeal to precisely the sort of people whom the author most despises. The essays commissioned especially for the book are particularly fatuous; the reprinted reviews not quite so appalling. Save your money and buy Stillman's novel 'The Last Days of Disco' instead.
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14 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Green on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's not obvious at first glance but this is a book from a publisher promulgating Christian and Conservative thought. It's a book with an axe to grind and an agenda which is not an academic, or even especially high-brow, discussion of Whit Stillman.

If that's your cup of tea and you like Whit Stillman, enjoy. Otherwise, just listen to the commentary tracks on Metropolitan and Barcelona again.
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