By my count, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is Noah Baumbach’s tenth feature. Something about that makes it howl a little louder than you’d expect. Baumbach’s filmography has grappled with the loneliness of adolescence, the anxiety of living in the shadows of elders, and the unbecoming desperation of being an unsuccessful artist. He also happens to have a cinephile’s fascination for the work of Brian De Palma. All these components encircle and animate The Meyerowitz Stories in what frequently reads as an exercise of self-flagellation, a self-aware critique of the filmmaker’s robust filmography that covers his past themes and formal preoccupations.Read More
One of the unintended effects of Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s De Palma is in its capacity to produce a sigh of relief at finding a documentary that reaffirms most if not all of your preconceptions about its subject. It’s capital A Advocacy for the American auteur, with Baumbach and Paltrow capturing Brian De Palma in medium close-up for the duration of the film as he candidly discusses his successes and failures, film by film, with excerpts from those pictures interspersed throughout.
Though it’s only with a director like De Palma that you could conceivably open with a scene from another filmmaker’s work (in this case, the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo) and subsequently express everything about De Palma’s approach to cinema. As David Foster Wallace once said: the muse of familiarity comes cross-dressed as Innovation.Read More
Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America takes place on the isle of solitude otherwise known as New York City. Tracy Fishko (Lola Kirke), a freshman English student at Barnard College, finds herself alone on this island. Her manageable discontents amass as the packaged college experience, the commercialized commodity that’s bought and sold to students who look to higher education as an outlet of jejune debauchery and facile self-discovery, proves to be less fulfilling than she hopes. Struggling to come to terms with her loneliness - she’s rebuffed by the first boy to afford her attention (Matthew Shear) and the university’s supercilious literary journal - Tracy is in need of both a muse and a friend. Baumbach’s second film this year is not just superior to While We’re Young (where his preoccupations with cutthroat ambition and false idoltry within a digital age are as prescient and poignant as they’ve ever been) but may very well be Baumbach’s best film.Read More
In Noah Baumbach’s 2010 film Greenberg, Ivan (Rhys Ifan) borrows from It’s a Wonderful Life by noting, “youth is wasted on the young”. Ever the optimist, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) goes one step further and bemoans that “life is wasted on the living”. That’s about as macabre as Noah Baumbach gets, where the director, now in his mid-forties, seems to be scaling back his sad-sack sensibilities. His previous film, Frances Ha, was a delicate illustration of a woman emerging from her arrested development and embracing adulthood. And his new film, While We’re Young, a workout in millennial jabs, is Baumbach’s most broadly humorous film ever. Yet in this film about forty-something’s losing their edge, one can’t help but see it translate to Baumbach’s sensibilities, where the director’s once microscopic concerns of age, matrimony, and relationships are so readily visible to the naked eye.Read More
Noah Baumbach’s work has possessed an effortless knack to probe the distress of maturing youth. From The Squid and the Whale to Greenberg, Baumbach’s filmography contains an emotional resonance that captures the feel of aging; all the fears, anxieties and happiness of getting old can be bottled from the characters he writes. The effortlessness is something of a ruse though, as accounted by Greta Gerwig’s New York Times article. But beyond the obstacles that actors contend with to realize this material, it’s Baumbach and Gerwig’s writing that marks a clear maturation in direction and self-reflection.Read More