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 young Jewish American man endeavors to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II in a Ukrainian village, that was ultimately razed by the Nazis, with the help of an eccentric local.
A self-styled New York hipster is paid a surprise visit by his younger cousin from Budapest. From initial hostility and indifference a small degree of affection grows between the two. Along... See full summary »
With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.
Three grown prodigies, all with a unique genius of some kind, and their mother are staying at the family household. Their father, Royal had left them long ago, and comes back to make things right with his family. Written by
The movie is set in a fictionalized version of Manhattan, with such imaginary addresses as "100 N. 30th Avenue" (the address of the hotel where Royal stays) or the "375th Street Y," itself inspired by NYC-area facilities operated by the Young Men's Hebrew Association. See more »
The Tenenbaum's dysfunction (while amplified for the screen) is quite an accurate portrayal of family life. Families are, essentially, groups of people living in each other's pockets, and, invariably, those people who love you and hate you the most.
Don't get me wrong, Royal and his (thermo)nuclear family of brilliant buffoons do not represent my family (or any other in the world I think!) but the family united against a miscreant father is a motif a lot of people can understand. It is this common humanity that really appeals to me as a film watcher, and what, ultimately made this film so very memorable to me.
The ensemble cast is astonishingly proficient. They all lend a perfect quirkiness to the roles. Anjelica Houston is the perfect former Mrs Royal Tenenbaum, down to the smallest nuance, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson turn in wonderful performances, and this is the only role I've seen Gwenyth Paltrow in where I actually thought she was someone other than Gwenyth Paltrow (this is not an insult, it's just that people don't always do it for everyone, you know...?). Bill Murray, Gene Hackman, Owen Wilson, all excellent, all the time.
The black comedy counterbalanced with the drama of the issues raised in this film left me feeling like I'd witnessed a film event, rather than just another film. I loved every frame of it, from the Baldwin narrated opening, to the final tying up of ends. It never dwelled on melodrama, or the more potentially unsavoury elements, and it didn't sink into the schmaltzy "We all love each other" end it could well have. It began perfectly, and it ended perfectly.
I can't recommend this movie more highly. It's a must see for anyone who loves quirky and emotive storytelling, great characters and beautiful dialogue.
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