Sunday, December 28, 2008

Whatever happened to Whit Stillman?

I was watching "Barcelona" last night and wondering about the fate of writer/director Whit Stillman. He made three literate, urbane films during the 1990s (the other two were "Metropolitan" and "The Last Days of Disco") and then just disappeared.

Some filmmakers can crank out a film a year without any problems (or more if you're Clint Eastwood), while others like Stillman need more time for their creative juices to marinate. But it's been 10 years since his last film.

Stillman's movies were never blockbusters, but then never were Woody Allen's, and he keeps up a frantic pace.

One of the most frequent criticisms I level against films is that the dialogue "sounds written." Some people thought this about Stillman, but I would contend that he wasn't writing stiff dialogue; he was writing dialogue for stiff characters. Stillman's movies were populated by blue-blood types who used big words and complex sentence structures in their speech. The artiface was part of their identity -- they wanted to come across as witty and smart.

There's reports that Stillman is working on an adaptation of Christopher Buckley's novel "Little Green Men." Let's hope Stillman ends his long hiatus.

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