whit stillman

The Best and Worst of Sundance 2016, Narrative Edition

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This year’s Sundance Film Festival seemed to get off to a rocky start; maybe it was programming and maybe it was poor choices, but I came out of the first couple of days wondering if it was just going to be a weird, off year, and nothing I was hearing from my colleagues seemed to indicate otherwise. But then a series of great movies unspooled, and we ended up with an embarrassment of riches. Yesterday, we took a look at this year’s crop of documentaries; here’s the best and worst of the rest (what I saw of them, anyway).
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Whit Stillman Proves A Smooth Fit for Jane Austen in ‘Love & Friendship’

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PARK CITY, UT: On one hand, the notion of writer/director Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Damsels in Distress) doing a Jane Austen adaptation is a little jarring – after all, the closest thing he’d made to a period piece was 1998’s The Last Days of Disco, still a good couple of centuries before the Georgian era. On the other, as he joked after the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Love & Friendship, “I think our films have been accused of being set in Georgian times, all the time.” And he’s sort of right; his examinations of young Northeastern preppies and the Upper West Side enclaves from which they hail are more connected to that time than most of his contemporaries, concerned as they are with matters of class, social advancement, and familial obligation.
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How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA

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Earlier this year, John Waters — whose last movie, A Dirty Shame, was released a full decade ago — finally got the offer he’d been waiting for all this time. According to his hitchhiking chronicle Carsick, his very first driver was “Harris,” “an art school type” with a sideline in weed dealing who called himself a fan. They talked for a bit about movies before Harris asked the (five) million-dollar question: “How come you aren’t making a movie?”
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The Best Highbrow Cameos to Catch When ‘Gilmore Girls’ Streams on Netflix

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Gilmore Girls is a show about a mother and a daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, who are more like two pop culture-besotted best friends in the small New England town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut — a place where it is always fall and there is always a goofy community festival happening. This smart, funny, brilliant show was a last gasp of human storytelling about ambitious and complex women on the WB/CW before teen takes on genre drowned out anything more ambitious, and it’s been unavailable on Netflix streaming for quite some time.
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Is Adam Brody Ever Going to Happen?

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For some people, the name “Adam Brody” will forever evoke visions of Seth Cohen, the nerd hero of the ’00s Fox teen drama The O.C. To a generation of teens, Seth Cohen was it: he made Chrismukkah and indie rock like Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes mainstream — in fact, the long slog from “college rock” to bands like Modest Mouse playing big venues likely owes a lot to this character — and he won the heart of his dream-girl crush who looks hella good in a Wonder Woman costume, Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson).
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How ‘sex, lies, and videotape’ Changed Indie Filmmaking Forever

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It began with three brief items in his notebooks. “A film about deception and lost earrings,” went one. “Everybody has a past,” went another. And finally, “Friend on the couch. Affair with the wife.” The filmmaker jotted down those three ideas in 1986; three years later, the movie those three ideas spawned became the sensation of the nascent Sundance Film Festival, the winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and an international box office smash. The young writer/director was Steven Soderbergh, the film was sex, lies, and videotape, and its release 25 years ago was, author Peter Biskind would later write, “the big bang of the modern indie film movement.”
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