2012 April 3

The Beautiful and The Damsels

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Megalyn Echikuwoke, Greta Gerwig, Carrie MacLemore, Analeigh Tipton Megalyn Echikuwoke, Greta Gerwig, Carrie MacLemore, Analeigh Tipton
Patrick McMullan
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(NEW YORK) Ah, the bliss, the ignorance, and the plights of a damsel's existence, whether in the throes of distress or not. Such was the fodder for brilliant director Whit Stillman's new film, Damsels In Distress, enjoyed by a truly packed house at The Cinema Society, Brooks Brothers and Town & Country-sponsored screening at The Tribeca Grand last night. 

Firstly, some background on where Stillman's epically-anticipated latest (14 years since his most recent film, The Last Days of Disco!) came to fruition. It involved a certain Pepto-pink and tangerine awning-ed coffee spot, apparently, thanks to a swell New York Times Magazine profile on the mysterious director. "One of my joke reasons I say for having left the United States in '98 was that French roast coffee took over New York, so I went to France where I found better, non-French-roast coffee in Paris," Stillman explained. "I came back to the United States when Dunkin' Donuts coffee came to New York—it was the return of good American coffee, without that horrible, bitter Starbucks flavor. I found a very nice Dunkin' Donuts on Christopher Street that had plugs." 

Gathered to see the fruits of Whitman's Dunkin'-addled labors were the likes of Dylan McDermott, Andie MacDowell, Daniel Merriweather, Nora Zehetner, Amy Sacco, Tara Subkoff, Euan Rellie, and Town & Country EIC Jay Fielden, and a Gossip Girl quartet of Chace Crawford, Kelly Rutherford, Matthew Settle, and Caroline Lagerfelt. 

Onto those damsels! "She who is ladylike, and unapologetically so" is how Damsels co-star Carrie MacLemore defined the prim and proper term. Just how well does the twee-proportioned actress fit the description? "I love my pearls! I'm almost always wearing pearl studs. They just didn't go with my outfit tonight," MacLemore said in a very ladylike southern twang. 

One had to wonder whether life imitates art for the cute, harmlessly fibbing source of distress (the good kind of romantically-entangled distress, natch) played by
Adam Brody. The actor's flirtation tactics off-screen don't seem to include faux names or gallantly sending over rounds of gratis martinis.  "I try to be nice, and if I can use a little humor, that can go a long way," said Brody. Anything else, Adam? "A little physical contact never hurts! I'll do a little arm touch. That's my move, I guess."

As for the film's other blokes? "My character has a problem identifying colors, and that's why he goes to college," said Billy Magnussen of his slow-witted character in the flick. No, really! As for spending some quality time on Staten Island, Magnussen couldn't recall his most recent excursion to the sprawling, farther-flung borough before filming Damsels there. But he was game for a deep thought or two about the borough's name. "Ah, the stat of the island. Hmm. Why is it called Staten Island, when the other boroughs are called 'da' Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens...nah, nevermind. I did like taking the ferry back and forth though, it's gorgeous!" 

From ferries back to (what else?) fashion: "I dress like a professor most of the time: black trousers and a men's shirt," said lead Damsel Greta Gerwig. "I've been channeling Diane Keaton since I knew who she was, probably around the age of 12."  On the topic of Gerwig, an Opening Ceremony-clad Chloë Sevigny was full-force praise ahead. "Greta was just irresistible: so beautiful, goofy, vulnerable, strong, and everything in a great performance I want to see from an actress." (P.S. Gerwig is quite a fitting lookalike for Sevigny...) The relatable bits of the flick for Sevigny concerned relationships and depression. On the topic of the latter: "A lot of my friends are in that right now, or learning how to deal with it and not be bummers towards each other," said Sevigny. 

Bummers were nowhere to be found on the premises of the Soho Grand after party in the Club Room, though, where the crowd mingled enthusiastically (was this a Monday night?) and noshed on slices of charred steak and macarons, which washed down quite nicely with a Woodbridge sparkling wine and elderflower concoction dappled with rouge rose petals. On the way out, copies of T&C featuring the film's female actresses, strewn about the room, provided parfait reading material for the subsequent cab or subway ride home. Gotta love a good post-party read or skim, non?

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