Search results for ‘Greenberg’

Greenberg

September 6th, 2010 — 08:44 am

Greenberg* *
Greenberg
– rm – Screenwriter and Director Noah Baumbach (who gave us The Squid and the Whale) presents us with Roger Greenberg who is comfortably inhabited by Ben Stiller. This single guy in his forties, now a New Yorker, working as a carpenter, recently in a mental hospital, returns to Los Angeles to housesit for his brother who is taking his family on vacation in Viet Nam. He looks up some old friends who were members of his band back then and are at various places now in their lives. His reminiscence with them and his encounters with some younger generation guys and gals seem to be trying to tell a story of the difficulties that one goes through in trying to negotiate to a successful stable life and relationship. The problem is that there is very little back-story with Roger and it is near impossible to understand or get much of a feel why he is having so much trouble. We are left with a self centered, obsessive guy whom you imagine is suffering on some level. The story doesn’t really go any place and we are really not very enlightened about the characters. Greta Gerwig plays the personal assistant of his brother who also ran the household where Roger is staying and with whom he makes some tentative attempts to have a relationship. Her performance stands out as she creates a very sensitive, likable but sad young woman who desperately wants to be loved and have a relationship but doesn’t quite know how to do it. It is unclear if the title of the movie implies something Jewish, perhaps some stereotype of Jewish angst? The Stiller character mentions that that his father was Jewish but not his mother but we are not sure what that was supposed to mean. Perhaps in the future when Baumbach gives us characters who have figured out their lives, we will look back and realize this was an earlier phase of his work when things were more confused. (2010)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Lady Bird

November 4th, 2017 — 07:48 am

****

Lady Bird

This film has nothing to with LBJ’s wife and the movie previously reviewed. It does have a great deal to do with the accomplished actress and writer 33-year-old Greta Gerwig (Francis Ha, Greenberg and many other films) who is making her directorial debut in this film for which she is also the screenwriter. It appears that Ms. Gerwig has drawn upon her experience growing up in Sacramento, California and having attended a Catholic High School around the year 2002. We won’t speculate how much of the rest of the film is autobiographical nor is it important. However, this talented writer/ director has captured the painful and glorious experience of a high school girl coming of age. This young woman Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) tries to break through what is expected of her and finds and shows her individuality. Ms. Saoirse is near perfect in realistically bringing this character alive with the words and direction of Ms. Gerwig. There is equally well-written character portrayed in an outstanding performance by Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird’s mother who is a nurse (as was Ms. Gerwig’s mother). The friction and interaction between mother and daughter will be familiar to many. The father is sensitively played by actor-play writer Tracy Letts.

One major conflict that is played out very well and may reverberate with many viewers is Lady Bird’s desire to go to an expensive East Coast College with a plan that is rejected by her mother. Will she be accepted and will her parents support this dream? This conflict along with typical ups and downs of friendships among girls and the problems of negotiating her own sexuality and her relationship with boys are universal and will reverberate with the audience. In the end, we believe this film will stand out and be well-remembered. (2017)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Rosenwald

August 16th, 2015 — 11:18 pm

***Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 4.19.34 PM

Rosenwald- sp

Aviva Kempner is the daughter of a holocaust survivor and a documentary filmmaker who is interested in showing the contributions of Jews to society. Among other films that she has made were The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, which told the story about the life and career of the first Jewish baseball star in the Major Leagues. She also made a film titled Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, the story of the actress, writer and television star Gertrude Berg. This time she has taken on the story of Julius Rosenwald who died in 1932. He was the son of an immigrant peddler who never graduated from high school but became a successful businessman and ultimately the president of Sears Roebuck. He was a major philanthropist and focused his energy and his wealth on the African-American communities in the South. He was the moving force in building over 5000 schools in the early 20th Century for young black students in Jim Crow states. This film also showed the support he gave to Tuskegee University in Alabama and his relationship with one of its founders Booker T. Washington. Rosenwald was a truly remarkable man who had the Jewish ideal of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).

Rosenwald was a living example of the historical bond which has existed between Jewish and black cultures in the United States. Much of this story is told with interviews with such people as Maya Angelou, Julian Bond, Rep. John Lewis, Gordon Parks, Cokie Roberts , various descendants of his family and many others. The fascinating subject of this film and his actions will resonant with many people and should provide an example for future generations.

The filmmaker’s enthusiasm for the implications of Rosenwald’s contributions may have led her to lose focus at times. For example, the visit of Eleanor Roosevelt to Tuskegee University to pay attribute to be Tuskegee Airmen and the ride she took in a small plane was quite interesting but moved the film further from its main theme Similarly, telling the story of Marian Anderson, the great black singer and one of the recipients of Rosenwald’s many scholarships, led the filmmaker to deviate into a long exposition about Anderson’s achievements. Some of these interesting but somewhat extraneous segments would have been better left to the bonus DVD which will accompany the film when it is purchased for personal use (although we understand that that bonus DVD in the making, is already three hours long). While not a great film, it was a unique look at a very special and not well-known person who made many contributions that changed countless lives. (2015)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary, History

Francis Ha

June 23rd, 2013 — 06:26 am

Frances Ha***

Francis Ha – rm If you are a couple of generations  out of sync with Francis Ha you may find it difficult to  relate to this 27 year old woman (Greta Gerwig) who is trying to establish her life in New York City as a dancer, actually as an apprentice dancer who in fact doesn’t even have her own apartment. We  first meet her with her best buddy girl friend Sophie (Mickey Summer) who isn’t quite as immature as Francis (which isn’t saying much) and is able to move her life along. By the way, another one of her friends is played by Grace Gummer who is a dead ringer for Meryl Streep and happens to be her daughter. We found ourselves feeling sorry for the likeable Francis much as we felt when we caught some episodes of the popular television program Girls with Lena Dunhan as she stumbles through the singles scene in good old New York. It may still be true “that if you can make it there you can make it anywhere”. However, as these characters demonstrate, it may be much more difficult for young women to kick start their lives in today’s single scene in New York and elsewhere. In past generations we recall 20 and 30  something women  usually had jobs and were on their way to careers, especially if they were college graduates  and most had  serious relationships. This doesn’t seem to be the case today  in this story or in real life. Writer/ Director Noah Baumback (who wrote and directed  The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg) teamed up with lead actress Greta Gerwig who also starred in the latter film and are romantically linked. Their dialogue captures the essence of their characters, ie “ We are like a lesbian couple that doesn’t have sex anymore.”   The choice to make this film in black and white allows the audience to focus on the essence of these characters and perhaps also of New York City which doesn’t need color to show it’s stark reality. It should be no surprise that the movie suggests that everything is going to be all right although it doesn’t really show us why and how that should happen. Perhaps their next film will fill in the colors. (2013)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story

December 30th, 2010 — 01:09 am

****

Jews and Baseball rm-  An American Love Story- You don’t have to be Jewish or a baseball fan to get something out of this well done documentary. However, the more you fit into these categories, the more you will want to be sure that you catch up with this film. Every Jewish kid should get a DVD of this film for his or her 13th birthday. It is written by Ira Berkow, Pulitzer Prize winniing author and directed by Peter Miller. There are interviews with baseball greats and people who knew them. There are also personal comments by people such as Larry King, Ron Howard and Dustin Hoffman The emergence of Jewish baseball stars, mirrors the story of the Jewish immigrants being able to partake in the American dream. The difficulties that these baseball heroes encountered spotlight the anti-Semitism that festered in the United States. The film also makes a point of showing that the problems that these Jews had in taking their rightful place on the baseball diamond were not very different than the next group had in challenging the discrimination barrier in this game. This latter point was illustrated in an incident that happened at the tail end of Jewish icon Hank Greenberg’s baseball career during the rookie year of Jackie Robinson. Robinson was trying to beat a base hit when he collided with Greenberg who was playing first base. As the two highly competitive players brushed themselves off, Greenberg gently offered Robinson good luck in dealing with the resistances, which he knew Robinson, would experience as the first black baseball player. The film tells the stories with interviews of the pioneer Jewish ball players in the major leagues. One such player is the legendary Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax, who will be known forever for pitching four no hitters and also skipping a crucial World Series game in order to attend Jewish high Holiday services. This movie also profiled a budding Jewish baseball player whose name we sadly don’t recall because he only had one major leagues at bat during which time on the first pitch he was hit in the head and suffered a severe concussion. After months of recovery he is still struggling in the minor leagues hoping to come back to major-league baseball with the hope of living his dream. This movie is about the baseball dream that many Jewish kids have had and a select few have realized but it is a dream that every kid understands.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Documentary, History, Sport