Posts tagged "Whit Stillman"
Glimmers of Civilization (and Grace) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Glimmers of Civilization (and Grace) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

I was bonding with a friend in New York last week over our mutual affection for the new Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. After swapping a few favorite lines, he asked, with a twinkle in his eye, “So how’re you going to shoe-horn this one into your theological framework?” Quick wit that I am, I responded, “A story about adoption and inheritance that ends with an act of radical self-sacrifice – probably won’t need my shoehorn for this one”. Badabing! Obnoxious, I know. What’s even more obnoxious is that I’d been thinking for days about Grand Budapest and…

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Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

1. Think positive! The New Yorker this week pushes back against the “think I can” trend, famously espoused by Thomas the Train – and even in adult media, too. While it’s certain that confidence often sometimes helps (Seahawks defensiveback Richard Sherman self-imputed the title “best cornerback in the league” and subsequently grew into it), it tends to break down in the long run, ht TB:

According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images,…

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The Comforts of Irony and the Terror of Earnestness: A Review of Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan

The Comforts of Irony and the Terror of Earnestness: A Review of Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan

Mockingbird favorite Whit Stillman’s wonderful debut film, Metropolitan, is a social commentary which continually crosses over, wryly and adroitly, into the domain of religious experience, Law and Gospel, anxiety and trust. It follows a young group of debutantes and their escorts in New York City, those sons and daughters of established wealth whose socio-economic trajectory has, in their twenties, stalled out. They are the natural members of a generation of new, white aristocracy (“Urban Haute Bourgeoisie”, or UHB), waiting in the wings but, as the prodigious intellectual-cum-self-parody Charlie puts it, “Downward social mobility…I think that’s the direction we’re all heading…

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Another Week Ends: Biker Church, Wrens Resurrection, Deadend Cool, Helicopter Fans, Lady Susan, Superficial Updike, and Daily Show Grace

Another Week Ends: Biker Church, Wrens Resurrection, Deadend Cool, Helicopter Fans, Lady Susan, Superficial Updike, and Daily Show Grace

1. Right off the bat, an amazing video (on multiple levels), which happens to feature the coolest pulpit I’ve ever seen. We need more of this:

Biker Church from Lucid Inc. on Vimeo.

2. All evidence above to the contrary, “coolness” can be a very cruel mistress. In fact, in terms of identity markers, I would argue it’s even more oppressive than “taste” (under whose umbrella it often falls). Meaning, unless you’re Steve McQueen (or Robert Capon), coolness is nearly impossible to pin down. But that’s also what makes it so fascinating of a subject to write about, or, in Mbird…

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The Ant Farm Analogy (Happy July 4th)

In honor of the big big day, a pair of priceless scenes from Whit Stillman’s Barcelona. Enjoy and we’ll see you back here tomorrow:

Things Are Looking Up: Some Thoughts about Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress

Things Are Looking Up: Some Thoughts about Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress

A couple of things to keep in mind when watching Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress, which arrived on DVD this week:

1. It is not part four of his “Doomed Bourgeois” trilogy. Nor should it be. If Stillman had kept us waiting 12 years only to repeat himself, he would not be the artist that he is. Damsels in Distress is something different, something less dramatic and more screwball. Departure is probably too strong a word, as many of the Stillman hallmarks are there, both stylistically (dialogue-heavy, music-centered, ensemble cast, episodic storytelling) and thematically (social and relational mores, the therapeutic value…

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Another Week Ends: Louis CK, Sam Spade, Prevailing Grace, Heavy Metal, Axl Rose, Viennese Creativity, Cabin in the Woods, and yes, more Damsels in Distress

Another Week Ends: Louis CK, Sam Spade, Prevailing Grace, Heavy Metal, Axl Rose, Viennese Creativity, Cabin in the Woods, and yes, more Damsels in Distress

1. “The Filthy Moralist: How Louis C.K. Became America’s Unlikely Conscience” in The Atlantic is remarkable, especially in its conclusion. As always when it comes to Louis, there’s a high depravity quotient, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. But also as always when it comes to Louis, the darkness is not neutral or meaningless (or merely shocking). In fact, it might even be worth the discomfort in this case to get to the final couple of paragraphs, which truly capture what Louis is about, whether he wants to be or not. It strikes me as especially pertinent as we…

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Another (Holy) Week Ends: Unachievement, Damsels Reviews, Gastrodad Confessions, Youth Ministry, Music Snobs, Girls and Darth Vader

Another (Holy) Week Ends: Unachievement, Damsels Reviews, Gastrodad Confessions, Youth Ministry, Music Snobs, Girls and Darth Vader

1. At this point, you’ve likely seen Andrew Sullivan’s Newsweek cover story on the “Crisis in Christianity”. While there’s regrettably little talk of salvation – which I’m not sure is really within the purview of such a piece – and the reference to Jefferson is a bit dubious, the overall diagnosis strikes me as sound. Sullivan’s conclusion is particularly stirring:

The crisis of Christianity is perhaps best captured in the new meaning of the word “secular.” It once meant belief in separating the spheres of faith and politics; it now means, for many, simply atheism. The ability to be faithful in…

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Another Week Ends: Jeremy Lin, Scientism, Cosmism, Clergy Burnout, Tearjerkers, Springsteen’s Advice, 30 Rock, and Garbage Pail Kids

Another Week Ends: Jeremy Lin, Scientism, Cosmism, Clergy Burnout, Tearjerkers, Springsteen’s Advice, 30 Rock, and Garbage Pail Kids

1. The Linsanity continues! But this time the hubbub has to do with a powerful (and unexpected) instance of off-court forgiveness. Last week, Jeremy Lin invited the ESPN employee who was fired for writing an offensive headline about Lin to lunch. Newsday spoke with the journalist in question, Anthony Federico:

Federico apologized after he was fired, calling the headline’s play on words ["chink in the armor"] “an honest mistake.” Lin said at the time that he accepted the apology and added, “You have to learn to forgive.” Apparently, he meant it. A member of Lin’s family reached out to Federico via…

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Vulgarity Is Blasphemous: Why Whit Stillman Doesn’t Hate Episcopalians

Vulgarity Is Blasphemous: Why Whit Stillman Doesn’t Hate Episcopalians

When I heard The NY Times Magazine was about to run a lengthy profile of filmmaker/author/all-around inspiration Whit Stillman, my first thought was, “About time!” Stillman’s return to directing after a 13-year silence, Damsels in Distress (out in NYC and LA on April 6), deserves the widest possible reception. Then I read the thing, which appeared in this past Sunday’s issue, and I’m afraid to report that they missed an opportunity. The author, Chip Brown, spends far too much of the article trying to shunt Whit into an ideological box, and far too little of it discussing the work itself,…

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Damsels in Distress Trailer!!!

“We’re also trying to make a difference in people’s lives. And one way to do that is to stop them from killing themselves.”

Homina homina homina… To read our interview with writer-director Whit Stillman, go here. Or to figure out why we’re so excited about this film, dig into some of these posts. And don’t forget, yours truly will be leading a first-ever Mbird group outing to see the film in NYC on April 18th, the night before the Spring Conference. Once we get closer to the event, we’ll be taking names.

A Pop Culture Christmas List – but Seriously

A Pop Culture Christmas List – but Seriously

Kicking off our year-end wrap-ups, here’s one from our esteemed podcaster in the field, Paul Zahl:

Thinking about Dickens’ novella “The Haunted Man” and remembering the impact of that unusual Christmas story in a sermon many Christmas Eves ago in a galaxy far far away, I began to collect in my mind some top-ten Christmas delights, mostly from the weird or supernatural genre. Collecting these has long been a hobby, a backdoor entrance into the land of genuine Christmas repentance by way of the absurd, if you can call it that.

Here’s a little ‘top ten’ for the next week, from the…

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Another Week Ends: Ben Franklin’s Bible, Desperate Millennials, The Costanza Key to Success, Prohibition, Zombie vs. Vampire, Whit Stillman, Craig Thompson and Rango

Another Week Ends: Ben Franklin’s Bible, Desperate Millennials, The Costanza Key to Success, Prohibition, Zombie vs. Vampire, Whit Stillman, Craig Thompson and Rango

1. Doubtless you’ve heard, but in a true laugh-or-you’ll-cry moment, Ben Franklin’s notorious “God helps those who help themselves” motto was quoted as Scripture from quite an auspicious, or I should say audacious, pulpit this past week. This just a few weeks after the Atlanta branch of my church put forward an out-of-nowhere (or, you could argue, an if-the-shoe-fits) proposal to rehabilitate Mockingbird baddie numero uno… Let’s just say it’s been a tough few weeks for us Augustinians.

2. A wonderful profile in The NY Times of Vito Aiuto and his church, Resurrection Pres in Brooklyn. You may remember him from…

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You’re in a Tailspin, Baby

You’re in a Tailspin, Baby

A press kit appeared on the website for Whit Stillman’s ueber-anticipated new film, Damsels in Distress, and it includes a wise and delightfully modest Director’s Statement that’s worth reprinting here in its entirety. A further clue, perhaps, as to why we keep going on and on about his work:

There’s a saying that the way to end up in the future one wants is to invent it oneself.

It’s hard not to admire the idealists who, not content with the existent world, seek to invent new ones. But the confidence and mastery these future-architects embody often disguise a fragile persona that’s frail,…

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Another Week Ends: Parental Blindspots, Damsel Reviews, Rand Abolishing Lewis, Doublethink, Higher Ground and The Magnificent Ambersons

Another Week Ends: Parental Blindspots, Damsel Reviews, Rand Abolishing Lewis, Doublethink, Higher Ground and The Magnificent Ambersons

1. A couple of regretful if relevant instances of control backfiring when it comes to children. The first was reported in The NY Times Motherlode blog:

“A newly released poll from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital finds that parents look at their children with blinders on, while looking at other children accusingly.”

If you read the comments, you’ll find a sad litany of parental judgment/overinvolvement shutting down the lines of communication with their children, which in turn feeds substance abuse. Not that parents can ever “get this right,” just that there appears to be a relationship between inflated views…

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