Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Frances Ha

In these days of action films being proffered around the globe, where guns and boobs and worlds that look like video games are the norm, it is a pleasure to watch a movie without guns, or boobs, not even a kiss.

Has the world turned upside down?  Where the money-makers have nothing but prurience on the mind and the arty folk are all chaste?

Yep.  It's interesting to be middle aged and to have seen everything change.  Yesterday's experiments are the money makers of the entrenched studio system--forty years later. 

And now the arty guys and girls just want to be simple people. Bare and real.

Love it.

And now for Frances Ha.  A lot has already been written about this movie so feel free to hang out on Al Gore's Interwebs and poke around.

My simple review:

The opening is sketchy and I don't fully believe this "great best friendship" off the bat. But we have to accept it to accept the movie. So accept it I did.

The acting isn't amazingly interesting. But it is real.  The uncomfortable social and work situations Frances finds herself in, you get pulled along hard.  Especially horrifying was one of those dinner scenes where everyone else is settled in and "normal" and has self esteem...and then there's Frances.Very Eric Rhomer from a scene from Summer (remember Marie Riviere in Summer?--talking about her vegetarianism and how it makes her feel light---to a table of meat eaters?  Amazing movie. Le Rayon Vert is the original title).  Turns out Noah Baumbach is a Rhomer fan. As am I. Naturally. As the movie rolls forward, you get more used to the almost flat style of acting...and you can't stop but say, "More, please."  More, in that you could watch this kind of acting in everything you ever watch. But also More, because you wouldn't mind if they got just a bit more high stakey...on the other hand, each character is hiding behind a persona that covers their bruised inner life. It does make sense. No schmacting here...

Greta Gerwig is extremely watchable. She lumbers when she walks. She is at the last moment of youthy youth and you feel it. She lets you in on it. This is probably the best script, or close to it (after The Squid and the Whale) of Noah Baumbach's. Greta's writing work was a boon to this screenplay.

Much of the supporting cast is completely realistic and enjoyable. All these privileged yet on-the-edge of dissatisfaction people...yep, buy it, entirely.

Grace Gummer is excellent as a poised and confident dancer. We'll see her doing larger roles soon. She has a natural ability in front of the camera. And she is not afraid of appearing angry or nasty. (Note: she worked on my play a few years ago, when she was a fresh tadpole out of college. Smart person, always asking the good questions.)

The shooting is brill. The black and white. Wonderful to watch.

New York is a star here, but not the main attraction. And the only thing this movie has in common with the TV show Girls is that it is in English, has Adam Driver in the cast and deals with 20-something trouble. And the only thing it has in common with Woody Allen's Manhattan is that it takes place, mostly, one borough over, in Brooklyn. Just trying to clear that up for y'all. This movie is not some sad little rip-off.

Frances Ha deserves to be experienced and talked about on its own merits. 

Completely worth seeing. It is one of the few films that I've seen in a long time that forces you into a full experience. It is not a huge story. But you really feel it. It digs right into you.

After you see this, rent Truffaut's 400 Blows if you haven't already. Another movie that is all about the experience. Completely worth the time.

Movies:  They're good when they're good.

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