Monday, 22 November 2010

Mr. Jealousy (1997) - Noah Baumbach

Right let's get this out in the open from the get go. I don't like Noah Baumbach, he rubs me up the wrong way. I find him a pretentious smug 'artist' type, I can feel the blood already starting to boil, so let's move forward. Having said that though I do adore his films and find him a very witty writer to boot. It's a strange paradox that seems to happen quite often in the entertainment world. Take Polanski for example, I would fight Mike Tyson to the death to defend anything the little guy has put up on the screen, but I wouldn't piss on the bloke if he was on fire. It's the rape thing, that sort of thing bugs me more than others I suppose.

Anyway I hadn't seen this film before, and although it made me chuckle and feel smug for understanding the movie and art references, I didn't think it as great as Baumbach's debut Kicking and Screaming, or his (thus far) high point The Squid and The Whale. Anyone who has seen any of Noah's output will know what to expect, it's the usual sub Woody Allen intellectual types over analysing everything and talking about it over endless cups of coffee/glasses of wine. You know the sort of thing, I guess these people do exist but I've never met them, or had a yearning too. However I do enjoy watching their lives crashing together on screen, falling apart and then somehow being glued back together, all within the space of ninety minutes. He handles it all really well, having complete faith in his script and cast (a top form Eric Stoltz, Peter Bogdanovich and a stack of others from his company of actors), and thus never resorting to the show-offy camera moves of lesser director.

So why do I have such a problem with wee Noah? Well since you ask, it all stems mainly from two separate incidents:-
Incident 1 - Baumbach is sent along to interview Andre Gregory about his involvement in the joy that is My Dinner With Andre, and by the end, the whole thing feels like it is as much about Noah as it is about Andre. Plus Noah manages to get his greasy locks in almost every shot. Grrr.

Incident 2 - Noah and his bestest friend in the whole world (Wes Anderson), are recording an audio commentary for Wes's film (co scripted by Mr. B) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Nothing wrong there, I was actually quite looking forward to hearing their insights into this gloriously overblown diamond of a film. Now for those not in the know, most audio commentaries are recorded in quiet places so that the listener can hear the pearls of wisdom that drip from the speakers lips. So where did messers Baumbach & Anderson chose for their venue? A crowded restaurant is the answer. So after half an hour of cutlery clanking against plates and people ordering stuffed quail or chilled monkey brains or whatever it is people eat in that social circle, I ripped the DVD from the player full of hatred for the pair. Well you did ask.

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