Greta Gerwig is "Mistress America"

4/20/2016

This is the second of two films by writer/director Noah Baumbach to be released in 2015.  He re-teams with his muse Greta Gerwig who also shares writing credits.  Like most of Baumbach's films "Mistress America" takes place in New York City and involves a woman's battle for personal identity and direction in life. 

Brooke is a thirty something year old woman living in New York City.  Her positive attitude and outgoing personality deceptively hide her directionless mess of a life.  She is ambitious but not very successful as her dreams often exceed her grasp.  When she finds out that her father is getting remarried she is exited that she will be gaining a younger step sister.  Tracy, played by Lola Kirke, is an eighteen year old college freshman who wants to be a writer and has dreams of being chosen to join the prestigious Mobius Literary Society.  A group of pretentious douche bags where good writing seems to be of little importance.  Tracy is smart and reserved but underneath lies a very dogged personality.

Brooke seeks out Tracy and they instant start to bond.  The dialogue is pretty amazing as the words spill out of Brooke as if her brain was on fire.  With her disjointed and often quirky stories, Tracy begins writing it all down and starts a story called "Mistress America".  Her youthful ambition is something that Brooke yearns for.  A chance to restart her adult life.  Although Brooke refuses to let her dream of becoming a dancer go and it's painful to watch it slip by as she desperately tries to hold on.  She has several odd jobs to pay the bills but it's just not cutting it as she couch surfs at many friends apartments.  The film is actually separated with title cards of the different addresses she is currently living at.

After the financing for Brooke's other dream of opening her own restaurant falls through she takes Tracy on a mission to meet an estrange friend, Mamie-Claire.  Brooke claims that Mamie-Claire stole some of her ideas when they were roommates in college and she made a ton of money off of them.  They drive to an extravagant mansion in Connecticut where they run in to a whole new batch of problems and situations.  The whole movie especially the scene's at Mamie-Claire's feel like a play rather than a movie.  It feels a little staged and rehearsed but the dialogue is spot on and it is pretty funny. 

Tracy's story is eventually published and upon reading it Brooke feels betrayed by her future step sister who ends up just being another girl as the wedding was called off.  Tracy receives a lot of backlash from the story but is accepted into the literary society. So where does this leave the girls and their relationship?  Tracy finds out that Mobius is full of shit and decides to start her own club, while Brooke looks for a change in scenery and plans to move to L.A.Tracy seeks out Brooke and they reconcile over and an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner.  "Mistress America" is an interesting slice of life that seemingly only Noah Baumbach could do, it is definitely his style and he does it quite well.  Although not his best film it fits in nicely with the others. Greta Gerwig is amazing and hopefully this will continue.



You Should Watch This Movie "While Were Young"

4/1/2016

Premiering in limited theaters in April of 2015 writer/director Noah Baumbach's latest is a sort of companion piece to his 2010 film "Greenberg".  Both starring Ben Stiller as a man refusing to accept his age and place in life.  This time he's playing Josh a documentary filmmaker and teacher who is in a bit of a rut when it comes to finishing his long gestating project.

Josh's wife Cornelia, played by Naomi Watts, has a  father who is a very successful documentarian himself.  Being very goal oriented Josh wants to make it on his own and has always pushed back when offered help.  Although his current project has gone unfinished for past 10 years he struggles for inspiration and motivation in the face of growing older.  During one of his classes he teaches at a local college two young people show interest in him and actually know of his work.  Enter Jamie and Darby, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, the two ultra hip 25 year olds bring Josh back to time when things were optimistic and full of hope.  In no time flat the two couple are out to dinner and Josh and Cornelia become infatuated with the young people.  Jaime is also a documentarian who is motivated and has ideas while Darby makes and sell her own brand of ice cream.  These too are such yuppie hipsters its pretty unreal, they are like caricatures.

Josh and Cornelia have friends their own age but feel alienated since they don't have a baby.  They are that couple, although it not for lack of trying, Cornelia has had problems in the past and they are both busy with their careers.  They are hooked on Jaime and Darby like a drug, as they start seeing them every chance they get.  They even start acting and dressing like them.  Why wouldn't people in there mid 40's want to be 25 again.  The film is chock full of comments on modern relationships that are right on.  Baumbach's strength as a filmmaker is finding the honest and real moments in his characters.  Josh and Cornelia are obviously getting in over their heads in trying to act younger.  They take part in this strange new age ritual involving a shaman and puke buckets.  Enough said as it has to be seen.  This is also a point that tests their relationship as Cornelia mistakenly makes out with Jaime or was it?



After a while Josh begins to suspect that Jaime has ulterior motives and could have been playing him from the start.  This brings us to another big message in the story line.  The problem of youth and ethics.  Although Jaime wants to be the next great documentarian he plays pretty fast and loose with the ethics behind it all, whether it's in his work or his own life.  Is this new generation willing to do anything to make it big? but hasn't this been happening in Hollywood forever? Where is the line and how do you define your personal and professional ethics?  In the end what is going to win out entertainment value or truth? This was good film and fits together nicely with "Greenberg".  Ben Stiller is underrated as an actor sometimes he just needs a good script and a good director and he has found one with Noah Baumbach.