Whit Stillman's debut feature "Metropolitan" examines romance through the lens of one of its greatest farces: debutante culture. Tom, a middle class Princeton student who sees himself as somewhat of a socialist radical, is invited into the company of a group of young New York City socialites, who's cynicism and jaded malaise easily overcome his intellectual pretenses. The New York City of "Metropolitan" is a stratified one in which the social classes are isolated from each other, each group wondering how the others live. In Whitman's world, the class warfare consists of a series of verbal skirmishes, and romance gets lost in the cross fire. A naive but endearing socialite named Serena is infatuated with Tom, but for most of the film he's too caught up in his new way of life and flirtatious ex-girlfriend to notice. It isn't until Serena takes up with the cartoonish Baron Rick von Slonecker that Tom realizes his feelings for her. Through it all, Whitman's hyper-articulate, clever and humorous dialogue keeps things moving at a fast clip.
We'll admit, the set up for "Trick" sounds like a dreadful sitcom on paper, but thanks to a surprising script, stellar supporting work from Tori Spelling (yes, really), and a winning lead in Christian Campbell (brother to Neve), "Trick" is a total treat. The Sundance entry concerns one long night in the lives of Gabriel (Campbell), an aspiring Broadway composer and Mark (John Paul Pitoc), a go-go dancer, as they try to find a place to hookup. Being a romantic comedy, plenty of mayhem ensues thanks to Gabriel's selfish roommate and his overbearing best friend, Katherine (Spelling), another Broadway hopeful. Will the boys ever find a spot to get it on? Watch, and find out.
"When Harry Met Sally..."
One of the most iconic cinematic contributions from the late, great Nora Ephron, the Ephron-scripted, Rob Reiner-directed "When Harry Met Sally..." is a cornerstone on any romantic comedy list, New York-based or otherwise. It follows Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) through twelve years of chance encounters in the Big Apple. Initally just friends, the inevitable slowly occurs with some classic sequences along the way (Sally faking an orgasm at Katz's Delicatessan is inarguably the film's best known scene). One of the most loveable films to come out of a surge of late 1980s rom coms, "When Harry Met Sally..." helped set a very high bar for genre contributions to come.
Another highlight from the late 1980s, Mike Nichols' "Working Girl" tells the tale of Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith, in her best role), a Staten Island-raised secretary working in the mergers and acquisitions department of a Wall Street investment bank. When her boss Katherine (Sigourney Weaver) breaks her leg, Tess utilizes her absense to make some serious career gains, romancing Tess's beau Jack (Harrison Ford) along the way. A classic female empowerment story, the film also features fantastic performances from the likes of Joan Cusack and Alec Baldwin, and stands strongly among the best work for director Nichols.
Dema Paxton Fofang, Peter Knegt, Nigel M. Smith and Sri Sridhar contributed to this article.