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A group of friends from New York's haute-bourgeoisie gather together during the holiday season.
For more about Metropolitan and the Metropolitan Blu-ray release, see Metropolitan Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman, Taylor Nichols, Allison Parisi, Dylan Hundley
Director: Whit Stillman
» See full cast & crew
Metropolitan Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 5, 2012
Whit Stillman's "Metropolitan" (1990) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original trailer; audio commentary with writer-director Whit Stillman, actors Christopher Eigeman and Taylor Nichols, and editor Christopher Tellefsen; outtakes; and alternate casting footage. The release also arrives with an insert featuring writer Luc Sante's essay "After the Ball". In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Not too long ago, New York City during the busy month of December. A young man, Tom Townsend (Edward Clements), exits a debutante ball and a cab immediately pulls over. But he wishes to walk home and offers the cab to five other young people. Perhaps impressed by the gesture, they invite him to attend their after-party. Somewhat reluctantly, Tom agrees.
Tom likes the group and they like him. Their intellectual conversations fascinate him. They talk about Jane Austin, French leftists, and God, all subjects Tom loves hearing about. By the end of the party he is told that there is a shortage of escorts, meaning that the group would love to have him attend their gatherings on a regular basis.
The members of the group, which have labeled it the Sally Fowler Rat Pack, are fascinating individuals. Nick Smith (Chris Eigeman, Barcelona), the group's leader, is a cynic who loves producing statements that could have dramatic effects on those who dare challenge his opinions. Jane Clarke (Allison Parisi, TV's Midnight Caller) loves attention and constantly reminds everyone that she graces the group with her presence. Fred Neff (Bryan Leder, The Last Days of Disco) loves comfy couches. Charlie Black (Taylor Nichols, Boiler Room) is a brash thinker who is in love with Audrey Rouget (Carolyn Farina, Little Noises), who already likes Tom but does not like the fact that she is flat-chested. Cynthia McLean (Isabel Gillies, Wishful Thinking) is a soft-spoken beauty who can't be trusted. Occasionally, also joining the group is Rick von Sloneker (Will Kempe, TV's All My Children), who may or may not have driven one of his ex-girlfriends to commit suicide.
The entire film follows the interactions between the members of the Sally Fowler Rat Pack and Tom's assimilation into the group. It is an uneven but fascinating film, filled with intriguing discussions, surprising revelations, and a few unusually tense confrontations. It has a very unique style, blending a good dose of eccentricity with an even bigger dose of honesty, which ultimately brings it closer to possibly being a confession of sorts rather than an experiment in minimalist filmmaking.
The film's greatest strength is the terrific dialog. It is razor-sharp, often quite sardonic but never off-putting. When Tom and his new friends engage in a debate, the viewer is intrigued by its subversiveness - there is always a certain degree of seriousness in it but underneath it there is also a provocative element that challenges various stereotypes and misconceptions.
According to director Whit Stillman, the different chapters apparently reflect the different changes in social attitude amongst New Yorkers that emerged during the '60s and '70s. As the main protagonists' relationships evolve, such a connection does indeed become quite apparent. However, admittedly the connection would be a lot easier to recognize by viewers who were familiar with the New York social scene.
Metropolitan is a film that is guaranteed to divide viewers because it demands as much as it gives back. Its protagonists exist in a world which many viewers are simply unfamiliar with, a world that could be fascinating and at the same time enormously frustrating. This reviewer thought that it was well worth visiting, even if ultimately it does seem like a place where some people rarely take off their masks.
Note: In 1991, Metropolitan was nominated for Oscar Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
Metropolitan Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears on the insert provided with this release:
"Supervised by director Whit Stillman and cinematographer John Thomas, this high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm blow-up interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' DVNR was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Telecine supervisor: Lee Kline, Whit Stillman, John Thomas.
Colorist: Joe Gawler/Technicolor, New York."
Metropolitan looks far more convincing on Blu-ray than The Last Days of Disco. Presented in its Super 16mm aspect ratio, the film has a raw and genuinely pleasing look. Traces of overzealous sharpening or filtering are nowhere to be seen. Close-ups convey adequate depth, with the typical for 16mm films rawness and heavier grain (see screencapture #3). Some extremely light noise is occasionally present but it never destabilizes the image. Color reproduction is convincing, with the daylight footage in particular looking very good (see screencapture #9). There are a few sequences where the reds appear slightly elevated, but overall color balance is indeed very good throughout the entire film. When projected, the film remains stable around the edges - there is absolutely no edge flicker or other stability issues to report in this review. Finally, there are no large damage marks, cuts, stains, or debris. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Metropolitan Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears on the leaflet provided with this release:
"The original monaural soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic audio track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
Understandably, the lossless track has a rather limited dynamic amplitude. There are only a few sequences where portions of Tom Judson and Mark Suozzo's jazzy score come alive. This is not to say that there are balance issues with the dialog, rather that the film has a very modest sound design. The dialog is very crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. There are no pops, cracks, problematic distortions or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Metropolitan Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Metropolitan Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Metropolitan is arguably Whit Stillman's best film. It is witty, raw, and surprisingly unapologetic. It has a great sense of humor as well, though surely not the universal type that could be easily appreciated by everyone. Criterion's presentation of Metropolitan is very good. The film looks great in high-definition and the Blu-ray also includes all of the supplemental features from the old DVD release. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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