A New York woman (who doesn't really have an apartment) apprentices for a dance company (though she's not really a dancer) and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as the possibility of realizing them dwindles.
Margot and her son Claude decide to visit her sister Pauline after she announces that she is marrying less-than-impressive Malcolm. In short order, the storm the sisters create leaves behind a mess of thrashed relationships and exposed family secrets.
Jennifer Jason Leigh,
In 1986, In Brooklyn, New York, the dysfunctional family of pseudo intellectuals composed by the university professor Bernard and the prominent writer Joan split. Bernard is a selfish, cheap and jealous decadent writer that rationalizes every attitude in his family and life and does not accept "philistines" - people that do not read books or watch movies, while the unfaithful Joan is growing as a writer and has no problems with "philistines". Their sons, the teenager Walt and the boy Frank, feel the separation and take side: Walt stays with Bernard, and Frank with Joan, and both are affected with abnormal behaviors. Frank drinks booze and smears with sperm the books in the library and a locker in the dress room of his school. The messed-up and insecure Walt uses Roger Water's song "Hey You" in a festival as if it was of his own, and breaks up with his girlfriend Sophie. Meanwhile Joan has an affair with Frank's tennis teacher Ivan and Bernard with his student Lili.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Squirmy sometimes outweighs funny in this coming of age-cum-divorce comedy
(Shown at the New York Film Festival, Lincoln Center September 26 and 28, 2005, US release (NY) October 5, 2005.)
Baumbach has crafted a "semi-autobiographical" but fully specific comedy about growing up with a little brother in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn in the Eighties -- when their literary parents are splitting up. Baumbach co-wrote "The Life Aquatic" with Wes Anderson; here he's on his own. A bearded Jeff Daniels and plain Laury Linney give balanced readings of their parts as a pretentious writing teacher whose days of published success fade while his wife gets a book contract and her novel is excerpted in "The New Yorker." Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline are fine as the two brothers Walt and Frank who have to deal with the colder details of joint custody while their parents are still throwing verbal barbs at each other and rumors of earlier adulteries are coming out, and issues such as who gets the cat -- and the special edition of Bellow's "The Victim" -- are as yet unresolved. William Baldwin is funny but one-note as a laid-back tennis coach called Ivan who turns out to be a wild card. The boys rebel in their different ways and the details of teenage sexuality are painfully detailed. Some will find their antics and their warring parents' tirades squirmy-funny; others will find them just squirmy. There are more embarrassing moments than revelatory ones, but for those who've been there, just seeing the situations may be satisfying enough. Baumbach works in close to his subject for sure. The social and period details are very specific and there are some good scenes.
This is an intelligent autobiographical comedy, but the New York critics have gone a bit overboard in praising it, perhaps because it's a story so close to the New York literary scene, and reviewers from Chicago, Seattle, and Texas have fallen over each other to agree. Baumbach is deemed brilliant because he captures the foibles of the literary intellectual and the adolescent male. Note, however, that the depiction of foibles is as far as the story goes. Its young hero isn't off to anywhere, and the movie is in little discrete chunks, but without the elaborate and complex geniality of "The Life Aquatic." Burnbaum's family provides him with a small canvas, and though his portrait of the father is cruel, it does not go deep, and nobody is depicted with any nuance. Still, there is a lot to like here, and kids with divorced parents may find this therapeutic, as the writer/director clearly did.
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