“It seems strange to me that video stores don’t have a section for Gatherings at Country Houses, because to me this is one of the best film genres, defined by its setting like the western, or backstage musical, or space opera. Most of my dreams take place in such environments, which probably explains which movies I’ve picked.”—Stephin Merritt
Last month at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Stephin Merritt, the greatest pop songwriter of the last oh, twenty years, curated a six-film series of films set in country houses. The schedule was thus: Rene Clair's And Then There Were None, Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette, Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night, Peter Greenaway's the Draughtman's Contact, Harmony Korine's recent Mister Lonely, and of course, The Rules of the Game.
Why do I bring this up, now especially, a month late and three thousand miles away? For a few reasons. One, not only does the series feature this week's Metro Classic but it also offers me a chance to plug Strange Powers, the documentary on Mr. Merritt that will be showing at the Northwest Film Forum starting on December 10th. Sean saw the film in Vancouver and liked it. Two, it's nice when my hero's tastes sync up with mine. I mean, Rules of the Game is pretty much a no-brainer but the reception garnered by Mister Lonely was more decidedly mixed. I thought it was a gem. Samantha Morton, Werner Herzog and a bunch of sky-diving nuns would never lead you astray. Three, it gives me an excuse to post a bunch of Stephin Merritt videos. Enjoy!