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Product DescriptionFour years after Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard reimagined the gangster film even more radically with BAND OF OUTSIDERS. In it, two restless young men (Sweet Movie’s Sami Frey and Eyes Without a Face’s Claude Brasseur) enlist the object of both of their fancies (Pierrot le fou’s...

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Greenberg

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 27-07-2010

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Fortyish man attempts to restart his life.Amazon.com
Greenberg aims to recapture the raw flavor and psychological acuity of 1970s character portraits like Five Easy Pieces–but the character in question is completely of the moment. Neurotic and anxious Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) comes to L.A. to stay in his brother’s house, where he reconnects with old bandmates and falls, with painful awkwardness, into a relationship with his brother’s personal assista… More >>

Greenberg

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Bryan Greenberg

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Comments (5)

This is a Noah Baumbach movie. People looking for a wacky, slapstick ‘Night at the Museum’ type kiddie movie should not go anywhere near this hard and piercing character film. Anyone who complains that this film “isn’t funny enough” completely misses the point of both the film and the character. This is a film by adults, for adults.

Writer/Director Noah Baumbach’s previous films are Kicking & Screaming – Criterion Collection, The Squid and the Whale (Special Edition) and Margot at the Wedding. The tone and harsh reality of those films should give you a good idea of what to expect here. The film has a number of uncomfortable scenes but they aren’t played in a broad and obvious way as many other films might have done. Greenberg seems very, very real. The laughs earned by the film come from a very perceptive observation of a character who seems lost wherever he goes.

What Ben Stiller does with this role is a revelation — he makes an audience sympathetic to a very unsympathetic character. If a character like Greenberg has even the slight possibility of finding love and happiness then there is truly hope for us all.

Ben Stiller hasn’t shown acting chops like this in years and it’s very refreshing to see him take on an adult role for a change.

‘Greenberg’ is easily one of the best films of 2010 and will find a place on many Top Ten lists. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Rating: 5 / 5

A “romantic comedy/drama” featuring depressed and unlikable people is a tough sell. That GREENBERG works to the degree it does is a testament to the good writing and outstanding acting…but it cannot completely overcome the essential problem embedded in its premise. That doesn’t mean a movie about unlikable people is a bad idea, but expecting such a film to receive a warm, loving embrace by the audience is a bit of a stretch.

Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) a New York based carpenter who once had a shot at rock star glory, is recently out of a mental institution for severe depression. He’s now in Hollywood, house-sitting for his brother and family, who are on extended vacation. House-sitting pretty much involves taking care of Mahler, the family German shepherd. And Roger is assisted in this minimal task by Florence (Greta Gerwig), the personal assistant of Roger’s brother…she brings him groceries and essentially handles any small tasks Roger might have.

Thus, Roger is allowed to wallow in his self pity. He “engages” himself in the idea of constructing a doghouse for Mahler…and constantly insists that he’s doing a great and noble and generous thing by building it. Yet, over the course of what feels like a few weeks, he only gets about halfway done. He is stuck in a malaise of self-hatred…which hatred he shares generously with those around him by being scornful and dismissive. Everyone is a fake or a phony. Everyone is worthy of derision. But when simply arising in the morning is a monumental task, I imagine it would be hard to care much for your fellow man.

Florence, a clearly intelligent young woman who is also adrift in a life going nowhere, would normally be the most depressing character in any other movie, but in comparison to Roger, she is practically sunshine and light. She also suffers from low self-esteem, which has her engaging in a series of one-night stands that leave her clearly unfulfilled and feeling even worse about herself. She and Roger drift into a “sort of” relationship. They come together briefly for a “date,” then Roger says or does something awful and the bounce apart. Her friends tell her to leave him alone. His inner-voice makes him wonder why he treats her so badly. He clearly likes something about her (perhaps her openness to feeling, rather than his cutting-off of feeling), but then he acts as though he can’t abide her. He’s like the kid in elementary school who punches the girl he really likes, to show how immune to liking a girl he is.

Stiller also reaches out to his old bandmates, particularly Ivan (Rhys Ifans)…these men were once his friends, but years ago, with a record contract on the table, Greenberg apparently scuttled the whole deal and the band fell apart. This has bred enormous resentments between the men. Ivan, a good man struggling to hold his family together, seems genuinely interested in befriending Greenberg. He seems to feel responsible for providing some companionship, however strained, to this lost soul. But Greenberg can’t stop picking away at the man, mocking his choice of a marriage partner and generally belittling him.

What is convincing about GREENBERG is that no one has a sudden flash of redemption. The script hews closely to what “real life” would be like…if these characters DO make any progress, it will be tentative and painfully slow. Most of the time, it’s one step forward, two steps back. The best we can hope for is to see the dynamic shift to two steps forward and one step back.

This makes it very hard to warm up to the characters. They are fascinating and involving, but throughout viewing this, I was constantly telling myself, “These are awful people. I could care less what happens to them.” This was particularly true for Greenberg. I felt sorry but frustrated for Florence…but Roger Greenberg needed a good smack upside the head.

That the movie is enjoyable at all is due to some sharp writing, including the use of the dog Mahler as the vehicle through which Roger and Florence can tentatively bond. Their concern for the dog gives them excuses to come together, even when angry at each other. Further, the excellent work from Stiller and Gerwig elevates the film. These two interesting actors give themselves completely over to their work, and it’s very effective. Gerwig is not someone I’ve noticed before, but she is vulnerable and assured in her work. I’d like to see her now tackle a less trouble character; I suspect there’s an effervescent personality there. And Stiller has always had a dark side, even in his most “family friendly” characters; but here he just gives himself over completely to that darkness. I hope like heck he isn’t really like this…but he sure plays it convincingly. And Rhys Ifans gives another outstanding performance. He’s quiet and contained, so that when his inevitable outpouring of feeling comes, the impact is all the greater.

I encourage adult movie-goers who enjoy tight writing and good acting to check out GREENBERG. If you’re looking for a “happy” time at the movies, though…look elsewhere.
Rating: 4 / 5

There is definitely a place for movies like this though I didn’t enjoy it myself. The acting was terrific and I still found myself wanting to see what happened in the end. My biggest problem was that the movie is miss billed on many previews to make one think it will be a quick paced, quick witted comedy. There is nothing quick about the movie and it plods along in a drama that disects the lives of quirky people who are flawed is a goofy, neurotic sort of way. It’s artsy and off beat to be sure. Some people will enjoy it. You just need to know what your getting in to.
Rating: 2 / 5

Ben Stiller is Greenberg, a New Yorker fresh from a stint in a mental health facility, where he was treated for a nervous breakdown, just arrived in LA to house sit for his brother, who lives in a trendy, upscale suburb. “Greenberg” chronicles his adventures house sitting and renewing old acquaintances in LA, where he grew up. The film is not a comedy; it’s not a drama; it’s a self-absorbed dud.

Stiller is an actor best suited to comedy roles, in which his ability to make us laugh mitigates his tendency to be annoying. As Greenberg, a role devoid of humor, Stiller is nothing if not annoying. If that is what Baumbach was seeking, then he hit pay dirt with Stiller. But a little annoyance goes a long way, and here, in a film running an hour and 48 minutes, it seemingly goes on forever. It doesn’t help that the other characters are uninteresting and that the story arc, if you can call it that, moves at a snail’s pace on its way to nowhere.
Rating: 1 / 5

If you think the idea of watching a 40-something-year-old man attempt to minimalize his life to the nth degree could just be quirky enough to be interesting, think again. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), Greenberg is an exercise in cinematic endurance that tests the audience’s patience to the breaking point. How long you last will depend on how interested you can force yourself to be in the lives of Greenberg and the people he passes along the way. Chances are you will snap long before the movie stumbles to its pretentious ending.

[...]
Rating: 1 / 5

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