A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means.
Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
A philosophical burlesque, Human Nature follows the ups and downs of an obsessive scientist, a female naturalist, and the man they discover, born and raised in the wild. As scientist Nathan trains the wild man, Puff, in the ways of the world - starting with table manners - Nathan's lover Lila fights to preserve the man's simian past, which represents a freedom enviable to most. In the power struggle that ensues, an unusual love triangle emerges exposing the perversities of the human heart and the idiosyncrasies of the civilized mind. Human Nature is a comical examination of the trappings of desire in a world where both nature and culture are idealized. Written by
I read the IMDB reviews on this two nights ago, and decided not to rent this film. But then as if by coincidence, the next night I noticed it was on cable currently, so I taped it.
And I'm glad I did.
It seems some reviewers lament the lack of a message in this, I can appreciate such weighty films, hey I enjoyed the "Whale Rider," but such films often reduce down simply to hackneyed sententia. I'm kinda afraid life does as well...but this ain't the forum for that chat.
Charlie Kaufmann seems to specialize in *mixed* message films. I enjoy them as I enjoy a puzzle. They are thought-provoking both in theme and in details (don't know about you, but I had to look up Franz Kline...)
Other reviewers lament the onanism going on (or should that be down). To me, "Adaptation" was a whole lot more masturbatory, this has an easier-to-follow plot. The humor rises more quickly to the surface...and yes I did chuckle at times.
No one so far has voiced concern over this being a film that reflects back from the start. It is done deftly; although I know some people dislike that as a device.
There are several nice film tricks. A circular beginning/ending, Robbins clearly being in a closed afterworld, and nods to other films...Bambi, Tarzan, Frankenstein, Sophie's Choice... ;> No, I'm forgetting another real one. I'm not that familiar with the director's MTV exploits, but I'll rent that collection sooner or later.
No one here yet has mentioned Young Frankenstein (which I see as more of a prototype than Pygmalion...or even Oedipus Rex.) But there are some serious questions being posed. Less these days than in the 70's do we get pitched an idyllic ideal; one wherein if man were stripped of his modern trappings, social strictures, political oppression and other garb, would we find a purer being? Isn't that also an element of Marx/Hegelism?
Kaufmann weaves a new sort of unibrow...uniting the high and the low.
There are other more universal moments here. Arquette struggling not to care what others think about her. Robbins trying to chose between the sweet girlfriend and the saucy seductress, between his heart and his...
Ahem, still there's much more here than what I fear is found in "Me and Him." Libido is a prime mover...whether subjugated or conjugal.
I'm having a hard time wrapping this up...is it a film that states that human nature is deceitful (all of four main characters are in at least one charade)?
Again, I'm glad I rented it. I've got to get better at cross-referencing other reviewers when reading posts here. I think Kaufmann is a very gifted, and very conflicted guy.
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