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Baumbach, Noah


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#1 Duke Togo

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 04:19 AM

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Noah Baumbach
Writer/director Noah Baumbach has shown much focus on the character study drama. Lives are explored at the apex of stagnation, with plenty of little comedic truths thrown in the mix, and while things don't seem resolved at the end we can at least see our characters learned something about themselves. A frequent collaborator with Wes Anderson, Baumbach has seen much success with his talents.

Recommended Films:
(1) The Squid and the Whale (writer/director)
(1) Kicking and Screaming (writer/director)
(1) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (writer)

#2 Duke Togo

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 04:56 AM

Having recently seen The Squid and the Whale I felt Baumbach should have a thread. I had no idea he and Anderson had worked together so much, though I had seen him in Life Aquatic as well as some behind the scenes footage of other Anderson films. So I found it kind of cool that not really knowing about their connection before hand I could still identify that familiar Wes Anderson influence as I watched The Squid and the Whale.

Having been awakened so to speak, I almost feel more enlightened to the strengths of Anderson's films. I have to be honest and say I do rather prefer the more restrained style of Baumbach, at least after the one film I've seen. I find Baumbach features everything I love about Anderson, but with none of those Anderson elements I'm indifferent to, and that he makes the character study side of things feel much more real to me.

The Squid and the Whale is easy to identify with for anyone like me that has experienced divorce. I never had to deal with my brother siding with the opposite parent. I had a different variation of that with my first step-father, who would basically try to make me and my other siblings dislike my brother, who he also happened to be bullying. I did experience that mom/dad competition though. This sort of cheap trick ranged from badmouthing the other to guilt-trips about love, and it worked rather well. I even had my grandmother providing my mother with support, badmouthing my father with secrets of the past, and naturally that led to his retort. After the dust settled the adults all looked exceedingly dirty, and that aspect of how things really work was totally nailed in the film.

I like to think that any parent has perfect 20/20 hindsight about how wrong this is, and hopefully I can avoid such things should I ever find myself in a broken home. These characters cannot help but tell their children the same lies they tell themselves, and I think in the end their love for their children turns those lies into guilt, and then into enlightenment. I feel the most shaky about Frank, but then I would also like to see some studies on who is usually the most damaged in such a situation. My brother was clearly the one in our case, and like Frank he too was the youngest. He too turned to alcohol, and developed a bit of a bitterness against my father, as well as a general chip on his shoulder to prove himself to everyone. He is much more mechanically inclined than I am just like my father is with cars and such, while I am a bit more sensitive and interested in the arts like my mother.

I throw this film in with the likes of Radio Flyer, in that it is one of those films my brother and I can look at each other and understand that it strikes a chord in both of us, no discussion necessary. I cannot wait to see more of his films, and Im hoping the rest are this good. :lol:

#3 clydefro

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 10:54 PM

It's funny because I've seen all of Baumbach's films except Mr. Jealousy and I still don't exactly know what to think of him. I don't see much overlap with Wes Anderson to be honest, but, beyond that, I can't figure out whether Baumbach is a talent or a faux talent. Margot at the Wedding is the only film of his that I've found to be truly first-class, and that's considering it as a character study and taking Nicole Kidman's fearless performance in consideration. With the last three Baumbach films, including Greenberg, the characters can be repulsive and only Kidman has had the acting skills to instill some sympathy. When I saw The Squid and the Whale it just seemed out of my range and about people I neither liked nor cared about at all. Granted, that's a dangerous opinion when you watch the sorts of movies many of us here do but I do think there's a way to convey unsavory and unsympathetic characters without making them repulsive to the point of apathy. Either Baumbach doesn't care to do this or he's unable to, and I haven't decided which is the case.

As for Greenberg specifically, it's ruined by Ben Stiller. It's not that his acting is bad so much as he doesn't seem to understand, like Kidman did, how to develop such a divisive figure beyond the broadest possible strokes. Greta Gerwig is natural and enchanting, though, and I thought she almost saved the film. Her vulnerability outpaces Stiller's and highlights the uneasy position of the film as on the cusp of being a studio project but with the intention of a more independent ideal. If I ever see the movie again it'll be because of Gerwig and not Stiller. He tries far too hard.




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