Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. (IMDb)
Exquisite in its script, performances, and craft: the feels are real and raw and wrenching, and there’s a lot of them (love, hate, heartbreak, awkwardness, tension, release); the leads, meanwhile, bring them all home, and the camera knows to just stay focused on them and not cut. In its monologues, songs, long takes, and dramatic emotion it almost has the feel of a theatrical play (with the troupe and their babbling commentary serving as the chorus), and it works perfectly with the material.
A man from Los Angeles, who moved to New York years ago, returns to L.A. to figure out his life while he house-sits for his brother. He soon sparks with his brother’s assistant. (IMDb)
The “slice of life”-type dramedy is nailed by everyone involved here: Achingly authentic scenarios (see Greenberg with bitter Beller; his date with Beth) are played out with perfect dialogue, strong turns from the whole cast, and smart edits (see Greenberg catching up at Beller’s party). Stiller’s uptight lead is loveably cynical (“Life is wasted on people”) and complimented perfectly by Ifans’ chill Ivan and Gerwig’s far-from-one-note-romantic interest who has her own share of issues.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
An estranged family gathers together in New York for an event celebrating the artistic work of their father. (IMDb)
Shifts from a first act packed to the brim with quirky, rapid-fire dialogue (Hoffman’s self-absorbed Harold is the highlight here: “It’s my protest”), entertainingly edited (see the snippets montage) to a downright hilarious second act (see the siblings’ note taking, Pam obsession) and a slower, more ponderous third act that really brought out the complex dynamic between the brothers and The Dad (both Stiller and Sandler are great–see their pre-fight exchange). Well-paced, and never predictable.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
Follows two young boys dealing with their parents’ divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s. (IMDb)
The anti-climactic ending feels inconsequential and insubstantial, which is frustrating because the bulk of the film is anything but: Literally every scene is loaded with subtle meaning as a fantastic script teases out all the interesting nooks and crannies of the tragic and often disturbing dynamics of the broken family under study. Superbly acted, with a great stop-and-go soundtrack that adds distinct flavours throughout the sharply edited (any longer and it would have been too painful) drama.