To know Whit Stillman is to love 90′s cinema. In 1990, his Metropolitan announced a dazzling (and Oscar-nominated) wit, and 1994′s Barcelona showed a man of certain interests and great talent. But after 1998′s Last Days of Disco, Stillman disappeared from cinema – only to pop his head up when his work was reisssued by the Criterion Collection. Word would surface now and again about what he was working on, but there was no movement until recently. He finally made a new film – Violet Wister’s Damsels in Distress - and Sony Pictures Classics will now be releasing it worldwide. The film stars Greta Gerwig and Adam Brody.
The big news in this is that he’s got a real distributor behind him (check out their press release), which is one of the biggest obstacles in low budget art house filmmaking these days. And with Sony Pictures Classics behind him, the film will play theatrically. For a small indie film, that makes a world of difference in terms of exposure. Stillman had the good fortune to cast Greta Gerwig, who has been working within the Hollywood system – though she’s curiously absent from much of the advertising materials for Arthur, she’s still the romantic lead in that. She’s also recently appeared in No Strings Attached and Greenberg.
Whit Stillman is an oddball, and perhaps his cinematic career has allowed him to not work for over a decade (perhaps he just does uncredited re-writes)- though the industry that once championed him no longer exists in the same way. His voice was specific but always rewarding, and he seemed to belong to the great new art house movement, along with people like Jim Jarmusch and Hal Hartley. They had a moment.
Are you excited for Damsels in Distress?