Greenberg

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my feelings on Noah Baumbach’s work, which is a shame, because he’s a director I have a lot of varying opinions on.

To put it simply: the man has directed what is probably my least favorite movie ever (Margot at the Wedding) and co-wrote what is probably my favorite movie ever (Fantastic Mr. Fox). He has created films I love, films I loathe, and films I feel nothing for or against. Every film of his is a new experience, and I guess that’s why I’ve watched nearly all of his films. I know what to expect in terms of style and whatnot, but never how I’ll come away feeling. Here I felt... lost.

I think Baumbach has a problem with screen economy. What do I mean by that? He knows how to put us in the place of these people no sweat, but the ways in which he shapes that into a film feels without a whole lot of forethought. The things he decides to focus on feel without “umph” and when the majority of his films are about characters who feel stuck, mismatched, and anxious about their place in the world whilst not really undergoing any sort of change, his works occasionally morph from being chill character studies to becoming uncomfortable and unsettling looks into Baumbach’s head.

He reminds me of Woody Allen, except Woody Allen doesn’t take nearly as many risks as Baumbach does aside from the legal ones. His films focus around dysfunctional characters that communicate his inner anxieties and frustrations, they’re from New York, the characters are always stuck in a slump, the visual and musical styles are very minimal, and they both have very dry sense of humor.

What separates Baumbach I feel though is his strange wild card element. There’s always something off about the dynamic in his films, and they always seem to communicate something about himself (whether intentional or not). There’s always something to discuss with his films for me because I feel like they become so many things along the way, good or bad.

So what do I think of this film specifically? It’s fine. It’s really nothing. A whole lotta nothing. Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig are wonderful. I love the zooms. I really liked a lot of the dialogue and character writing whilst despising the sequence of events, so there’s that. The film’s pacing is godawful. The film’s themes I wish felt more explored, as they’re insanely surface level and not very intimate here. Dave Franco plays a stoner and it took me five minutes to remember his name. That’s all I got honestly.

I need to go to bed, I just wrote four paragraphs about a movie I feel nothing for.