Saturday, January 19, 2019

Three Films Make A Post: A sensational characterisation you wouldn't believe possible

The Darjeeling Limited (2007): I don’t usually write a lot about Wes Anderson’s films, because while I love most of them quite a bit, I don’t have much to say about them beyond noting my appreciation for his general aesthetic (and the guy’s films are nothing if not expressions of a single and very personal aesthetic), his curious ability to make films full of ironic distance that still seem to respect and portray human emotion in a stylized yet truthful manner. Why, he even gets me to watch a film about characters for whose little rich boy problems I’d have little patience otherwise like this one, and enjoy it.

Greenberg (2010): I’m somewhat more particular when it comes to the films of Noah Baumbach. About half of them I think are brilliant or borderline brilliant, the other half (say the confusingly beloved Mistress America or While We’re Young) I can’t stand at all.

One of the borderline brilliant ones is this one about the perils of being a supposed grown-up when you are perhaps not suited to it at all, embodied in a pretty fantastic performance by Ben Stiller (who is a properly good actor when he is acting instead of being Ben Stiller). The film also concerns itself with the perils of being a young woman who has had much of her confidence and self-esteem sucked out by life as a young, poor woman in late capitalist America as even more fantastically embodied by Greta Gerwig. As an actress, Gerwig has an incredible way of projecting telling degrees of awkwardness only comparable to the way Vincent Price could chew scenery to just the exact correct degree. Baumbach keeps some ironic distance here too, but where Anderson’s view is a bit more clinical, I believe Baumbach wants his characters to change and improve and be happy (to the degree being happy is possible for them) more often than not. As a viewer, I approve of this.

Stegman Is Dead (2017): Keeping with the comedy, though on a less critically acclaimed and less accomplished level, David Hyde’s film concerns a bunch of slightly eccentric criminals, killers etc, performing their merry dance of stupidity and mild violence while descending on the house of a porn producer (porn jokes are actually one of the film’s strengths) and other houses looking for a McGuffin in form of a video. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes going over the same couple of ideas over and over again, sometimes threatening to do something really interesting and crazy but never quite getting there.

It’s a generally likeable little film, though, not terribly cynical, not terribly involving, but certainly worth a friendly nod.

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