Salute to Whit Stillman

Film-maker Whit Stillman wrote three films throughout the 1990s. They were Metropolitan (1990), Barcelona (1994), and Last Days of Disco (1998). Although Last Days of Disco created a bigger splash, all three were considered independent films, Metropolitan being my favorite. Sadly, nothing seems to be in the works for a future release. Stillman's films were very dialogue-heavy and often contained wry cerebral humor in a very Frasier-like way. Here are just a few snippets and quotes derived from the three films that cover politics, pop culture, and, of course, relationships. Enjoy... Fred Neff: Men are dates, date substitutes or potential dates. I find that dehumanizing.

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Nick Smith: Rick Von Slonecker is tall, rich, good looking, stupid, dishonest, conceited, a bully, liar, drunk and thief, an egomaniac, and probably psychotic. In short, highly attractive to women.

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[Josh describes Lady and the Tramp]
Josh Neff: There is something depressing about it and it's not really about dogs. Except for some superficial bow-wow stuff at the start, the dogs all represent human types which is where it gets into real trouble. Lady, the ostensible protagonist, is a fluffy blond cocker spaniel with absolutely nothing on the brain. She's great looking but, let's be honest, incredibly insipid. Tramp, the love interest is a smarmy braggart of the most obnoxious kind, an oily jail bird out for a piece of tail or whatever he can get.

Josh Neff: No, he's a self confessed chicken thief; an all around sleaze ball. What's the function of a film of this kind? Essentially it's a primer about love and marriage directed at very young people, imprinting on their little psyches that smooth talking delinquents recently escaped from the local pound are a good match for nice girls in sheltered homes. When in ten years the icky human version of Tramp shows up around the house their hormones will be racing and no one will understand why. Films like this program women to adore jerks.

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Ted: Spanish girls tend to be really promiscuous.
Fred: You're such a prig.
Ted: No, I wasn't using "promiscuous" pejoratively. It's just a fact. They have completely different attitudes toward sex.
Fred: Well, I wasn't using "prig" pejoratively.

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Nick Smith: I've always planned to be a failure anyway, that's why I plan to marry an extremely wealthy woman.

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Nick Smith: It's a tiny bit arrogant of people to go around worrying about those less fortunate.

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Woman: You can't say Americans are not more violent than other people.
Fred: No.
Woman: All those people killed in shootings in America?
Fred: Oh, shootings, yes. But that doesn't mean Americans are more violent than other people. We're just better shots.

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Ted: Maybe you'd like an analogy. Well, take... take these ants. In the U.S. view, a small group, or cadre, of fierce red ants have taken power and are oppressing the black ant majority. Now the stated U.S. policy is to aid those black ants opposing the red ants in hopes of restoring democracy, and to impede the red ants from assisting their red ant comrades in neighboring ant colonies.

Ramon: That is clearly the most disgusting description of U.S. policy I have ever heard. The Third World is just a lot of ants to you.

Jurgen: Those are people dying, not ants.

Ted: No, I... I don't think you understand. I was reducing everything to ant scale, the... the U.S. included. An ant White House, an ant CIA, an ant Congress, an ant Pentagon...

Ramon: Secret ant landing strips, illegally established on foreign soil.

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Fred: You think wedding vows are going to change everything? God, your naivete is astounding! Didn't you see "The Graduate"?

Ted: You can remember "The Graduate"?

Fred: Yeah, I can remember a few things. Apparently you don't. The end? Katharine Ross has just married this really cool guy - tall, blond, incredibly popular, the make-out king of his fraternity in Berkeley - when this obnoxious Dustin Hoffman character shows up at the back of the church, acting like a total a**hole. "Elaine! Elaine!" Does Katharine Ross tell Dustin Hoffman, "Get lost, creep. I'm a married woman"? No. She runs off with him - on a bus. That is the reality.

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Ted: You see, that's one of the great things about getting involved with someone from another country. You can't take it personally. What's really terrific is that when we act in ways which might objectively seem a**hole-ish or, or, incredibly annoying, they don't get upset at all. They don't take it personally. They just assume it's some national characteristic.

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Des McGrath: Our bodies are not really designed for group social life. We're really designed for pairing off.

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Who does Ted marry at the

Who does Ted marry at the end of the movie Barcelona?