The day has finally arrived. The pilot of Whit Stillman’s first ever TV series The Cosmopolitans is now available to be watched on Amazon Prime! But here’s the deal. The series itself won’t get picked up unless it receives enough votes. In other words, it’s time to rally the troops. Why should you run and not walk to cast your vote? Why should you either sign up for Amazon Prime yourself, or canvass your friends to find someone who has it and hijack their computer? Five reasons:
1. It’s phenomenal. Here’s the review I posted on Amazon immediately after watching:
“A beautiful piece of work, from start to finish–comedies this sophisticated simply don’t exist on television (yet!). Faster paced than Stillman’s other work but retaining the smart, snappy dialogue for which he is known, it may even be his flat-out funniest. In a universally strong cast (including the city itself, which has never looked more charming), the character of Fritz takes the cake. Just thinking about him brings a smile to my face. Only complaint is that it was over far too soon.”
2. Don’t take my word for it. Check out Richard Brody’s rave over at The New Yorker. A few favorite bits:
“[Stillman] equips his characters with expository dialogue that’s so smart and sharp that it, too, seems like a sort of action—thought in action. But then he sets those characters in motion and puts them to the test. He also puts their identities to the test, with the comedy and the drama of self-definition and self-creation (this comes to the fore especially in “Damsels in Distress”). In effect, for Stillman, exposition is a matter of form; the deft interweaving, from the very start of “The Cosmopolitans,” of disparate situations arises from a sense that labelling, whether through self-identification or the identification of others, is itself an act of high drama.
…as nostalgia goes, his is an immensely productive and forward-looking one. His vision of a world in which traditional modes of behavior are preserved is also one in which those modes are still active—what he imports from the past is equally latent, though unexpressed, in the present. He isn’t so much reviving traditional ideas as revealing what he seems to consider enduring truths.”
3. What other director on Earth would give the following admission in an interview–with Buzzfeed no less?
“My favorite thing in New York is my church, the Église Evangelique Française,” he said. “I went to the Protestant churches in Paris, sort of these Calvinist churches. I love them, they’re really cool. But I had no church in New York. My pastor died, so I was at loose ends. One day I came out of the 14th Street subway station, and there’s this big map of the neighborhood, and it said ‘French church,’ on West 16th Street. So I went to it, and it was essentially a black church — it was mostly people from Haiti and Cameroon, the best-dressed people, very formal, distinguished men in their seventies. And [the service] is all printed out, so with my French, I can follow it all. One thing that’s not printed out is the Lord’s Prayer, so I had to get it off the internet — the Lord’s Prayer in French. I have it in my wallet for that. It’s just such a lovely experience, just lovely people.”
Along those lines, if you’ve never watched this clip from Barcelona, it captures much of the singular talent at work here:
- Ladies, Tramps and Shakespearean Admonitions (With Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards)
- Things Are Looking Up: Some Thoughts on Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress
- Why Whit Stillman Doesn’t Hate Episcopalians
- The Comforts of Irony and the Terror of Earnestness: A Review of Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan
5. If the above doesn’t convince you that the world needs more of Whit Stillman’s work–that you yourself need more–well, then do it for me. Seriously, it would mean the world. I mean, I even broke our ‘clickbait title’ rule to get you to read this. So what do you say? It’s just a click away. C’mon, don’t be a pipsqueak.
P.S. A few of Fritz’s lines to whet your appetite:
“This is my friend, Hal. He’s lonely and craves the attention of maternal women.”
“If they are prone to making bad choices, then there’s hope for us.”
“It doesn’t have to be decadent – you could go hiking.”
Oh and the music! From the opening French version of “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” to Jackie Wilson’s “To Be Loved” played over the final credits to Tony Ashley & The Delicates (!) below, I have a strong suspicion we’re in for a stellar soundtrack, should it go to production.
P.P.S. Don’t miss the prayer at the end: “Not a cab”.