directed by Noah Baumbach
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not the biggest fan of Noah Baumbach and his edginess. I don’t mean edginess in the sense of pushing the boundaries of film or storytelling. I mean edginess in the sense of it being a symptom of withdrawal. Have you ever had a friend who smokes, and they’re all fun and easy to hang out with? Until they quit, that is. And once they quit, they’re all edgy and snappy and so very easily irritated. Not to mention the way their personality goes from likeable to grating in like 3 seconds. Well, I find Baumbach’s films to have a similar effect. You can see his influence on the underappreciated Wes Anderson film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, where Wes manages to find a middle ground between the whimsically gaudy pattern of his own style and sourpuss killjoy of Baumbach’s, so that all of Bill Murray’s jackassness seems almost endearing and humorously curmudgeon-like. Left to his own devices, Baumbach seems to stew in it, and though Ben Stiller did a fantastic job in the lead, I never really felt for the guy on that visceral level. Fans of Baumbach’s “Anderson sans the quirk” will definitely enjoy it, and fans of great acting will appreciate both Stiller and the wonderful Greta Gerwig, not to mention an excellently underplayed performance by Rhys Ifans. I could see the point, out there in the distance, but maybe I’m just not as cynical slash romantic as Baumbach.
Note: Probably the highlight of my film going experience that night was walking out of the theater to find a car, engulfed in flames, rolling to a stop on Main Street whilst two men staggered away from it, coughing and yelling at some kid to call the police. The tires exploded, the gas tank exploded twice, and the whole car nearly burned out before the fire department could get a hose on it. What great topper to my night.