Sunday, November 21, 2010

1464 - Greenberg

I struggle with Baumbach's films. He really enjoys exploring characters that are arrogant and self centred intellectuals. I really didn't like Squid and the Whale, but this film I actually kind of enjoyed it. I think it has a lot to do with the supporting cast that surrounds Greenberg - in particular Greta Gerwig as Florence. She's really just lovely, and flawed just enough to feel real and human and crazy enough to be around someone that's as big of an asshole as Roger Greenberg. It's a film about a man in his forties who has just gotten out of some kind of mental institution and is going to housesit for his, much more successful, younger brother, and build them a doghouse while he's there. That is, essentially, the plot going into it - and coming out of it, really as he navigates traces of his former life and realizes that no one really wants anything to do with him, save Florence - who probably doesn't know any better. Stiller is great here, and I believe that he changes because of the events in the film - which is a step up for Baumbach in terms of his lead characters. I like films where characters have at least a bit of an arc, it doesn't have to be major, but if they're the same person at the end as they are at the beginning I just don't understand the point of spending time with them. I was worried halfway through that Greenberg would remain an insufferable ass, but I was pleasantly surprised.

I'm curious to see how far Baumbach can go with his 'character'. He's changed it up enough over the last three films, but I'm curious what other stories he has in him with some variation. He's a talented story teller, I just want to see him stretch himself a bit more.

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