Tag Archives: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Preview of 2012 – Awards and Art House

by Ron Swanson

Bérénice Bejo

Just before Christmas, the issue of film release scheduling was brought up as part of the ugly contretemps between New Yorker film reviewer David Denby and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo producer Scott Rudin. While Denby’s claim that he had to break an embargo he’d agreed to because of release schedule madness (in this case, keeping all of the films aimed at a literate, adult audience to be released at the same time) was clutching for a proverbial drinking device, there’s a kernel of truth to the fact that most of the interesting releases aimed at an older audience do tend to be squeezed into a three month (at best) period.
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London Film Festival 2011 – Day 13

Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman, 2011)

Sandra Hebron’s last choice as LFF surprise film proved hilariously divisive. As the cast, shot in gauzy cheap-looking HD video, deadpanned the first lines of Stillman’s arch, absurdist dialogue over Mark Suozzo and Adam Schlesinger’s preposterously kitsch underscore, I could feel the hostility in the room boiling over almost instantly. And, to be fair, Stillman’s film is deliberately alienating – challenging you to be on its decidedly obscure wavelength with an unpredictable mix of ultra-precious whimsy, deliberately unconvincing characters (most of whom, irony piling upon irony, are ineptly playing false roles within the film’s narrative), hilariously cheap gags and gimpy musical numbers (just to give you a flavour: Adam Brody and Greta Gerwig appear to dance on water in a fountain, to Gershwin’s Things Are Looking Up (from the P.G. Wodehouse-penned Fred Astaire movie, A Damsel in Distress)  but the cheap-looking platform they are actually dancing on is right there in plain view).  Although Stillman’s previous films were somewhat mannered and artificial, they also had one foot in reality, a concept which Damsels in Distress has no particular time for.

So, fair warning: Your Mileage May Vary. But I had a great time.

Continue reading London Film Festival 2011 – Day 13