Wednesday, November 21, 2007

mini review: margot at the wedding

every review of this movie says essentially the same thing; the characters are pretty much unlikable, the cuts are stylized and abrupt, the director (noah baumbach) and the star (jennifer jason leigh) are married, etc, etc. unlike most other reviewers of this film, however, i'm a much bigger fan of baumbach's first two movies, "kicking and screaming" and "mr. jealousy" (yes, i like that movie, it's like a really great short story from the new yorker but you can watch it instead of reading it in installments while on the toilet and it's an excuse to watch chris eigeman exist).

most critics act like everything pre-squid and the whale is a youthful digression by the director, best ignored; i get the impression that baumbach feels that way, too. but i think the difference between the first two films (well, 2.5 with highball, but that was more of a home movie, even tho it's worth netflixing for the "everybody felix, it's felix's birthday" bit) (trust me, it's funny) (or don't) and the last two isn't just the first two are more comedic, and we all know that comedies don't "mean" as much as dramas, meow meow bullshit, whatever.

but that in those first two movies, the characters weren't necessarily more easily likable by the audience, but you get the feeling the director likes them more, too. that he's enjoying them instead of mocking them, or coldly displaying them for our scrutiny. "kicking" and "jealousy" were what they call "small" films (eg, nobody really saw them), and when you're the kind of guy who wears corduroy blazers around the house and writes shouts and murmurs essays, making films to little acclaim probably bruises the ego more than you'd care to admit. making films becomes more torturous than fun for said director, and, it seems, so do the films themselves.

moi, i miss the fun. i miss the rambling dialog and the familiar-yet-not-hateful characters and even the 90s haircuts. i don't get nearly as much enjoyment from watching a pompus-yet-talented guy become subconsciously disenfranchised with his trade, film by film. it's don't just enjoy it less, i respect it less. being arty and writing about crazy women is easy. comedy is hard. whereas margot at the wedding, while well made, is just hard to watch.

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