- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

He’s baaaaack

“Well, if it is, the wait is almost over. Under the cloak of secrecy, [Whit] Stillman has at last returned to the role of director. He has just finished shooting his first movie in [12] years, on the streets of New York, his home again after several years of self-imposed European exile.

“Its working title is ‘Damsels in Distress,’ and it’s about a group of perfume-obsessed college girls - some suffer from nasal-shock syndrome at the faintest sniff of B.O. - who run a suicide-prevention center. Stillman has raised the money and written the script, which has a honed Whitonian perspective and Whit-icisms galore.

“And although the film offers the possibility of a cameo appearance by Stillman staple Chris Eigeman, who has appeared in all three of his movies, it will not make a quadrilogy of his trilogy. ‘This film is different,’ Stillman says. ‘Completely different. Okay, not completely different, but it’s different.’ “

- Mara Altman, writing on “Whit Stillman is Running Late,” in the December issue of First Things

Bad films

“Rather than developing organically, the average Christian film is more pushy and sanctimonious than the global-warming agenda movies. Violence is almost non-existent, salty language never happens, unmarried people never struggle with lust, and evil is never very bad, because showing various forms of sin is not allowed. By movie’s end, everyone is converted with no residual issues. Life is reduced to an after-school special with prayer thrown in for good measure. For me, this is where the dry heaving begins.

“Restrictions on content are there, presumably, because people believe it to be biblical. Such restrictions keep me from producing a movie accurate to Scripture, itself. It is a tough argument to think modern Christians cannot handle a simple kiss or rough language when God allowed Joshua to slaughter thousands behind the walls of Jericho.

“It is wrong to blame only the artists and producers for the saccharine muck that lines the walls of Christian bookstores - like being mad at a chef for offering no variety after demanding he serves nothing but macaroni and cheese. We, the audience, are to blame for the failure of Christian culture. Christian artists cater to us, give us what we want, what we prefer, and Christians’ expectations have tended to not stress biblical truth, moral clarity or technical achievement, but a watered-down, unrealistic view of the world.”

- Scott Nehring, writing on “Why Are Christian Movies So Bad?” on Oct. 26 Relevant magazine

The smart set

“As we’ve noted here on Ricochet many a time and oft, liberals are certain - really certain - that they’re smarter than everybody else. Writing in the current New Yorker, as I noted in an earlier post, Hendrik Hertzberg came right out and asserted it. ‘[P]art of the problem [part of the reason, that is, why the voters chose to punish the Democrats] … is public ignorance.’ The American people, knuckle-dragging troglodytes.

“Hold that thought while you turn to the front page of [the Nov. 12] New York Times, where you’ll find this headline: ‘Obama’s Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage: China, Britain and Germany Challenge U.S. - Trade Talks with Seoul Fail, Too.’ Now turn to ‘U.S. Gets Rebuffed at Divided Summit’ in [the Nov. 13] Wall Street Journal … ‘China and Germany rejected U.S. calls to rein in their trade surpluses and bashed Federal Reserve policies that they said undermined the dollar.’

“Hm. Hu Jintao, whom New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman admires in print several times a month, and Angela Merkel, whose intelligence and shrewdness no one doubts … all side against our enlightened, bien-pensant president, siding instead - can the conclusion be avoided? - with those knuckle-dragging troglodytes, the American people.”

- Peter Robinson, writing on “Hu Jintao and Angela Merkel, Knuckle-Draggers” on Nov. 14 at Ricochet