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« TCM Classic Film Festival Presents The Sound Of Music's 50th Anniversary!| Main| The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks Animation, Part 2: Fall »
Friday
Mar 27 2015

Posterized: Noah Baumbach

While We're Young,a two couples collide comedy with Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver opens today.It's the 7th official feature film from 45 year old writer/director Noah Baumbach.

His first feature,Kicking and Screaming(1995), starring a who's who of hot indie actors from the mid 90s (shout out to chris eigeman and parker posey!) came out a full 20 years ago so he got started young.He got started just in time too.His brand of talkie neurotic intimate comedy burst forth during the 90s, the golden age for the American indie.Perhaps no one knew it was the golden age for indies while living through it but in hindsight it definitely was.So many directors we still enjoy burst forth in those particularly fertile circumstances of the marketplace.

So with that one in theaters, let's look back at his first six films as director (he wrote or co-wrote all of them, too).The marketing departments got really hung up on all white posters for him for awhile...but it suits his films somehow and theGreenbergposter is straight up ingenious "he's got a lot on his mind" with its empty space.So...Kicking & Screaming(1995),Mr Jealousy(1997),The Squid and the Whale(2005, a hit, making about twice as much as his films usually do),Margot at the Wedding(2007),Greenberg(2010), andFrances Ha(2012...released in 2013).

We haven't a clue what happened to him between 1997 and 2005 (quarter-life crisis?) though there was one additional film in 1997 that he apparently took his name off of called "Highball" which could explain the coming fallow period and in that long stretch he also co-wrote Wes Anderson'sThe Life Aquaticand made a short film.

How many have you seen and which is your favorite?

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Reader Comments (24)

I've seen them all and Kicking & Screaming is my overwhelming favorite.Sweet and funny, well cast, great characters, and one of the most quotable films I've ever seen.I watch it regularly, even though it's also a reminder of how ill-fitting menswear was in the 1990s.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Finally, one of these where I've seen them all.I even saw Kicking & Screaming in the theater, way back when.

My favorite is definitely Frances Ha, though I've seen all other than Mr.Jealousy multiple times, and I can't wait to see While We're Young.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I've seen everything from The Squid & The Whale on.I've had the Criterion dvd of Kicking & Screaming cooling its heels on my shelf for years, but have never watched it for some reason.Squid...is my favorite, barely ahead of Frances Ha.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I haven't seen Mr.Jealousy and couldn't get into Kicking and Screaming at all (maybe I should rewatch), but his last four movies make him one of my favorite filmmakers and the one who I suspect has a personality closest to my own (i.e.usually acerbic and misanthropic, with occasional lighter moments).Frances Ha is definitely the most enjoyable one, but The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg are great too.Also, bonus points for co-writing Fantastic Mr.Fox.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I've seen 3.The Squid..., Greenberg and Frances Ha.LOVED The Squid but haven't seen it since it came out so I wonder what I'd think of it now.I thought I'd hate Greenberg (or specifically, that I'd hate Stiller in it) so with those low expectations I was pleasantly surprised.Frances Ha...well, I really wanted to like it, and I think I can respect and appreciate it, but overall found it, and her (the character, not the actress), underwhelming and oddly irritating.

我仍然希望看到踢和尖叫和玛戈特..., I've never even heard of Mr.Jealousy and I doubt I'll see While We're Young.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

4/6.I can't remember if I've seen "Mr. Jealousy" so I'll count it as a no.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

I have only seen The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding.Please put away all knives, but I found both incredibly irritating and self-serving.The scripts sounded like bad film school first drafts.The unsympathetic characters showed no signs of relatable or logical human behavior.Sorry, not a fan.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I've seen all fromThe Squid and the whaleonwards and I've mostly enjoyed them, particularly for the performances he's drawn from his actors (particularly Kidman and Gerwich).I quite fancy seeingWhile we're young.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

I LOVE "Margot at the wedding" & thought both Nicole & JJL should got Oscar nod.for it!

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

brookesboy: You're not alone.I really enjoyed the performances in Margot at the Wedding, but everything else like, as you said, "bad film school first drafts".

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

Uh oh.I've only seen the two that brookesboy saw, although I've been meaning to watch the last two to see what the fuss over Greta Gerwig is all about.I much preferredThe Squid and the WhaletoMargot at the Wedding.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

1.Frances Ha is possibly my favorite film of the decade so far.
2.The Squid and the Whale contains my favorite performance in any of his films -- Jeff Daniels, who should have gotten more recognition.He's so truthful in this.
3.Greenberg is the best thing Ben Stiller's ever done.When I see it, I imagine an alternative career for him, a more serious comic/dramatic path he might have taken.
4.Margot at the Wedding has one of my favorite -- perhaps most favorite -- Nicole Kidman performances.I love where she goes in this film.Just terribly real and unlikable.

The previous two I haven't seen, but overall I'd put Noah Baumbach very high on my list of currently working directors -- he's up there with Linklater for me.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

I've only seen Frances Ha and it so discribes my own life atm that I just don't know if I love or dislike the movie....
The acting is great though.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding and ny favorite Frances Ha.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I've only seen three, the most recent three, and I must say that I didn't like any of them, particularly Greenberg and Frances Ha.Obviously, Baumbach just isn't for me!

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Sean--thanks, I appreciate that.I thought Nicole was terrific...but to what purpose?Half of what occurred on screen made no discernible sense.I really did not like that movie lol.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

i've seen them all except Mr Jealousy.It seems like he makes a great one every third movie (Squid & The Whale and Frances Ha towering over the others.So the one after the one after While We're Young will be great!;)

March 27, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I have seen all from 'The Squid and the Whale' on, and my favorite is 'Frances Ha', no contest.There's a hopefulness, or at least non-misanthropic-ness, to it, that is missing from the other ones.It also struck me as laugh-out-loud funny when I saw it, in a theatre full of people who were definitely NOT laughing out loud with me.

(Kidman is great in 'Margot', though).

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I've seen his last four.My favorite of his is a tie b/w SQUID and FRANCES.

I'm hoping he does a film with Streep and/or Kudrow.All went to the same college after all.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Ryan T.-- Kudrow would be such a great fit for a Baumbach movie.It's so easy to imagine her playing Margot (not that Kidman didn't do a great job).Of course, she would be great in a lot of movies, but no one seems to give her worthy roles anymore.At least there's hope for another season of The Comeback someday.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I've seen all of them with the exception ofWhile We're Youngand his newest filmMistress America.NoHighballposter?Oh wait, Baumbach disowned that film.Don't blame him.It has its moments but it's not very good.Frances Hais my favorite so far.

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Ryan T -- hearing Streep & Kudrow in the same sentence causes flashbacks to my favorite performance of Streep's since Devil Wears Prada -- her work as the ex-gay conversion therapist on "Web Therapy" ohmygod was she hilarious in that.

March 27, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I've seen all but Jealousy.To me, Baumbach is amongst the best ten or so American filmmakers working today.

March 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

I've only seen one: MARGOT AT THE WEDDING.I didn't really like it, but I have to say Nicole Kidman is fantastic in it.一个角色这么冷,讨厌不来啊ff as well as she does here, thanks to Kidman giving her more than a trace of humanity.

March 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBhuray

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