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Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan”

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By Thom Bennett

IFC News

Debutantes and their dates: Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan” was a tough sell amongst its indie peers when it came to be in 1990. Sixteen years on and only three films later, Stillman still has little, if anything, in common with his contemporaries. But “Metropolitan” remains one of a handful of post-Sundance American independent films that helped, for better or worse, to open the floodgates for a generation of filmmakers and their films.

It’s the simple story of a guy named Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) who somewhat accidentally and reluctantly becomes a part of New York debutante society during one fateful Christmas season “not so long ago.” He falls in with a crowd who call themselves the Sally Fowler Rat Pack (or SFRP for short) in honor of the frequent hostess of their get-togethers. Tom befriends Nick (Chris Eigeman), the caustic observer of the group, and attracts the interest of sweet, Jane Austen-obsessed Audrey (Carolyn Farina). Charlie (Taylor Nichols) is leery of Tom’s acceptance by the group and himself harbors a secret crush on Audrey. Tom, who comes from a middle-class background, is an outsider who at first acts dismissive of the SFRP’s neo-aristocratic lifestyle. However, he’s quickly caught up in the comings and goings of the group, leading to a comical and touching showdown at the Southampton home of Nick’s arch-enemy and renowned womanizer Rick von Sloneker.

“Metropolitan” went on to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay (losing to the bewilderingly bad “Ghost”) and win an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. But Stillman’s debut film has more in common with Orson Welles’ “The Magnificent Ambersons” than with the army of Scorsese imitations that arrived at the same time, and, unlike many of those more heralded films and filmmakers, holds up remarkably well. The insightful and often hilarious dialogue is the true star of the film and is indicative of a rare first-time filmmaker mature enough to stick with what he knows and do something great with it.

Once again, we have Criterion to thank for giving a great film the treatment it deserves. The special edition DVD comes with a captivating commentary by Stillman and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols, who discuss, among other things, the making of the film on a shoestring budget and how out of place it was at the time. Stillman’s subsequent films, “Barcelona” and “The Last Days of Disco,” deal with similar themes in different eras and places with fine results — however, “Metropolitan” remains an essential American independent film by one of the great underappreciated American filmmakers of his generation.

The “Metropolitan” DVD will be released by the Criterion Collection on February 14.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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