Today I went to see a movie at the Kino cinema in Collins Place. Monday is cheap movie day there. $7 for all movies, all sessions. So I guess if the movie you choose disappoints, it doesn’t feel like you have wasted buckets of money.
I chose a movie I had wanted to see, but didn’t get around to. It is ending it’s cinema release, so if you want to see it you will be able to catch it on DVD soon.
I wanted to see this film because I am a huge admirer of Noah Baumbach’s film “The Squid And The Whale“. A warts and all examination of a messy divorce, with excellent performances by Laura Linney & Jeff Daniels, and an outstanding screenplay. I also like “Margot At The Wedding“, if you take out the casting of Nicole Kidman, probably the main reason the film is secondary, in my opinion.
Baumbach’s films are dotted with very flawed characters, sometimes hard to be emphatic with. “Greenberg” is no exception. Actually, perhaps, it is the films major flaw. The main character, played exceptionally well by Ben Stiller, is downright unlikable.
Stiller plays a severely disfunctional human being. Angry with the world, and himself, to the point that friends and family have almost given up on him. Returning from self exile in NYC to LA, after a stint in a mental hospital, we find him housesitting his brothers house, and looking after the family dog. He encounters the family assistant Florence (Greta Gerwig), who is willing to help out, and walk the dog. She herself is a little downhearted after a recent failed relationship. He looks up his old friend Ivan (Rhys Ifans – terrific), a former member of his rock band, whom in a backstory, Greenberg inexplicably abandoned. He starts a romance with Florence, who seems to put up with such an asshole for some reason? Actually the character of Florence is underdeveloped, her story seems unimportant to Baumbach. It is quite hard to sit through a film, watching a very unlikable character indulge himself in all areas. Even though Ben Stiller is good, he doesn’t really have the acting chops to pull off a difficult role. Unlike the great Jeff Bridges, who manages to make so many unlikable characters likeable (Fabulous Baker Boys, Crazy Heart). There are some good things in the film, Baumbach has a great ear for natural dialogue, it has fine production design, and uses popular songs well. Also the good use of LA locations , give it a sense of place.
So I left the cinema happy that I didn’t waste $7, but if I had have payed full price (up to $17.50) it might have been a different story.