Oysters with Fresh Horseradish
We hear a lot about the great social mobility in America, with the focus usually on the comparative ease of moving upwards. What’s less discussed is how easy it is to go down. I think that’s the direction that we’re all heading in. And I think that the downward fall is going to be very fast—not just for us as individuals—but for the entire Preppie Class.
–Charlie Black, Metropolitan
Is it weird that the Nineties have been on my mind quite a bit lately? Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’ve been researching trends as part of my job for the last few months, but quoting Reality Bites and Clueless has come up more often than normal for me (oh, who am I kidding–I always quote Clueless). When I was making my little wishlist on Amazon of various media I craved a few months ago for the holidays, the film Metropolitan called to me from my big master wishlist (yes I have one, mock me if you must) as something that I had to get and watch and fall in love with. After reading on Criterion’s website that it’s another perfect modern-day take on Jane Austen in the vein of aforementioned Clueless, albeit more verbose and less Valley Girl, I had to see it–and I must say that it takes on what’s arguably considered the least-loved of Austen’s novels, Mansfield Park, and modernizes it in a way that’s credible, funny, and true to all of the characters contained therein.
Outside Horn & Hardart (screencap mine)
Also: the characters visit an Horn & Hardart automat towards the end of the film. Automats were dying out by the 80s, but a small few clung on in New York until the last one shuttered in 1991, a year after this film was released. It’s such an anachronistic touch; the only other time I’ve personally seen an automat referenced on film was in That Touch of Mink from 1962.
Long-dead restaurant concept references aside, Metropolitan‘s delightfully cynical tone was a perfect pairing with one of the dishes that the characters likely feasted on in spades during all of the debutante-related parties they went to in the course of the story: oysters.