Whit Stillman movies are like Cole Porter standards sung by tuxedoed swells in the Oak Room at the Plaza. They’re light-as-air, swizzle-stick comedies about Ivy League privilege. In other words, they should be totally insufferable. But miraculously, they’re not. Two of Stillman’s finest films are just out on terrific Criterion Blu-rays, and they’re worth checking out to see the bard of the bon vivant set at his self-lacerating best. First up is Metropolitan (1990, PG-13, 1 hr., 39 mins.), an Upper East Side coming-of-age confection starring Edward Clements as an undergrad who gets sucked into the demimonde of debs and dandies — a world he despises, until he’s let into the club. Like his hero, Stillman can’t seem to decide whether he loves these characters or pities them. Either way, Christopher Eigeman delivers the best preppy-jerk performance since James Spader in Pretty in Pink. Set in the early ’80s, The Last Days of Disco (1998, R, 1 hr., 53 mins.) is like a lockjaw version of Saturday Night Fever, with Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale as undermining roommates more interested in getting past the velvet rope than losing their inhibitions on the dance floor. They talk about loyalty but don’t have much talent for it. As always, Stillman nails the tribal details like a Park Avenue Jane Goodall. He’s the master of satire as sociology. Both films: B+
Genre: Drama, Comedy; Starring: Edward Clements, Carolyn Farina, Chris Eigeman, Taylor Nichols; Director: Whit Stillman; Author: Whit Stillman; Runtime (in minutes): 98; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Distributor: New Line Cinema
Posted July 20 2012 — 12:00 AM EDT
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