Tag: Emma Thompson

Image courtesy of Netflix.

*** ½ (out of 4)

Noah Baumbach is probably best known for his 2005 work The Squid and the Whale: a film that, aside from winning near-universal critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination, cemented his status as the master chronicler of the bohemian lifestyle. As with all of Baumbach’s movies, the basic plot of Squid – two kids cope with their parents’ divorce – didn’t matter as much as the vibrant character portraits it sketched out: Jeff Daniels’ arrogant, failing writer, Laura Linney’s sexually-unsatisfied mom, Jesse Eisenberg’s antisocial nerd, and Owen Kline’s insecure adolescent. With them, the overall film succeeded in providing a riveting, hilarious depiction of a family in crisis – and in so doing also offered a pointed look at the petty things smart people will do to protect their egos.

Now, 12 years and seven films later, Baumbach’s latest family saga, The Meyerowitz Stories, has returned to the setup that once served Baumbach so well.

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals

* ½ (out of 4)

When I last visited my relatives in China, I was asked by a group of them to play something on the piano. Since I had not touched a keyboard in several months, I decided to play Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp Minor, a piece that I thought would sound impressive enough to save face. I hadn’t even gotten halfway through the large, banging chords of the climax before all my relatives started breaking out into exclamations — and by the time I was done, I found myself inundated with compliments on my playing. Never mind that my “interpretation” had no expression, or that I had obviously messed up some notes. To them, loud and big were sure signs of greatness.

On a visceral level, the new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast often feels like it’s trying to do what I did then: dupe its audience into admiration by assailing it with noise.

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals