Monday, 7 May 2012

Dear Douglas and Whit ...

At the moment, my reading material is Player One by lapsed-favourite Douglas Coupland. Today, I saw the film Damsels in Distress by the inveterately infrequent director Whit Stillman. I've loved the work of both in the past, particularly Coupland's Microserfs and Stillman's Barcelona. And while both of these two recent titles by Coupland and Stillman still have plenty to like about them, both also seems to suffer in comparison to earlier work in quite a similar way. Basically, they seem to have forgotten all about plot.

Not plot in terms of a densely but carefully constructed narrative, nor plot in terms of an enjoyable pot-boiler, but plot in terms of something that does more than intersect with reality at a tangent. In previous works, both Coupland and Stillman coupled their (respectively) philosophical and whimsical sides to narratives that bore more than a fantasy relationship with reality. But here, while both have pleasingly held true to the styles and tropes that first got me hooked, both have abandoned any pretence that the worlds they build and populate have more than a passing correlation with our own.

True, that's laying it on a bit thick, but what was wrong with sticking to situations and characters that touched base with the real at least once in a while?

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