Writer-director Noah Baumbach once again taps into a specific point in life with astute observational skill, even if the plot feels oddly forced. The vividly defined characters continually surprise with their awkward honesty, although this comedy-drama suffers from the contrived plotting of Greenberg (2010) rather than the free-spirited joy of Frances Ha (2012). Still, people on the cusp of middle age will find it hilariously, and worryingly, resonant.
In their early 40s, Josh and Cornelia (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) feel like everyone is judging them for not having children. And Josh has the additional pressure that his filmmaking career has stalled: he has nothing to show for eight years spent on his latest documentary. Then they meet 25-year-old aspiring filmmaker Jamie (Adam Driver) and his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried), who inspire them to recapture their youthful interests in art and culture. Even their sex life begins to perk up. And Jamie encourages Josh to make progress on his movie, just as Jamie gets his own project underway, consulting with Cornelia's well-established filmmaker dad (Charles Grodin). But is this trans-generational friendship appropriate?
The fact that they even wonder that gives away Baumbach's own perspective, especially as he fills the film with witty contrasts that work a little too hard to make the point. For example, Josh collects CDs and DVDs while Jamie collects LPs and VHS tapes. Continual touches like this add lots of clever observational humour, although they also make everything feel a bit cartoonish and over-constructed. Plus of course the nagging sense that there's a right and wrong way these kinds of things should play out. Thankfully the dialogue is fiendishly smart, delivered to perfection by the gifted cast. And it helps that each of the actors are willing to be fairly unlikeable in his or her role, although Stiller is sometimes sent over the top with Josh's inexplicably harsh reactions to everyone around him.
Continue reading: While We're Young Review
Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are a middle-aged married couple struggling to keep up with their quickly ageing bodies and still feeling like they're in their twenties. They're tired of pretending to be grown up and the thought of having children becomes an evermore difficult decision. Filmmaker Josh soon meets a 25-year-old couple named Darby (Amanda Seyfried) and Jamie (Adam Driver); a couple that still have their whole lives ahead of them and bathe Josh and Cornelia in a comforting wave of nostalgia. Cornelia has reservations about spending their time with people so much younger than them, but it soon becomes clear that their presence has given Josh a new lease of life and made them realise that they don't have act the age they're expected to act, and they are free to let go to; that is, at least, until Josh is diagnosed with arthritis.
Continue: While We're Young Trailer
With energy and insight, this documentary races through the life of one of the most influential musicians of the 1990s, feminist punk artist Kathleen Hanna. Her story is strikingly involving, as the filmmakers reveal personal details and show Hanna's potent impact on both the industry and society at large.
Even as a young child, Hanna had a fierce sense of justice and refused to be quiet about it. She also understood that music was the best way to get someone to listen, so in 1989 she formed Bikini Kill with her friend Tobi Vail. Their pointed lyrics and high-energy performances made a massive impact on the Olympia, Washington, grunge-punk scene. And over the following years, Hanna helped launch the feminist punk zine Riot Grrrl, created her alter-ego performer Julie Ruin and formed a second band Le Tigre. In 2005, she was forced to retire due to a mysterious illness that wasn't diagnosed as Lyme Disease for six years. She's now back on stage where she belongs.
Director Sini Anderson keeps the film moving briskly through its brief 80 minutes, although this also means that a lot of the context is lost along the way. There's never a clear timeline for Hanna's various bands, and the only real connection to other musicians is seen in her friendships with Joan Jett and Kurt Cobain (Hanna coined the phrase "smells like teen spirit"). But the film gets beneath the surface to explore the more emotional layers of her life, including her marriage to Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, who has helped her get through her debilitating illness.
Continue reading: The Punk Singer Review
Kathleen Hanna was one of the pioneering icons of the riot grrrl feminist punk movement in the 90s as the lead singer of Bikini Kill and later Le Tigre. Outspoken and determined, she wanted to bring feminism to pop culture in a way that had never before been done, at a time where male orientated grunge artists such as Nirvana were at the top of their game. The years after her initial music career were a deep struggle for Kathleen, however, due to serious health issues. She had contracted Lyme disease which forced her to leave Le Tigre in 2005 and undergo treatment. It caused much confusion among her fans who thought she'd never stop making powerful pro-woman music, but now she's back in business with her newest band The Julie Ruin.
This candid documentary tells the story of Kathleen's chaotic career and troublesome personal life featuring intimate interviews with the likes of Kathleen herself, her husband and Beastie Boys member Adam Horovitz, Sleater-Kinney singer Carrie Brownstein, Joan Jett from Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson and Sonic Youth vocalist Kim Gordon. 'The Punk Singer' won the Women in Cinema Lena Sharpe Award at the Seattle International Film Festival where it also landed 2nd place for the Golden Space Needle Award and was nominated for the Documentary Award. It is due for release on May 23rd 2014.
Adam Horovitz, Kathleen Hanna, Mah Dukes and Mike K - Renaming of Palmetto Playground to Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn. The late Beastie Boy was honored in ceremony by his mother and Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horovitz. - New York City, New York, United States - Friday 3rd May 2013
Adam Horovitz, Rachael Horovitz and Adam Yauch - Adam Horovitz, Rachael Horovitz and Adam Yauch New York City, USA - HBO Films premiere of 'Grey Gardens' at The Ziegfeld Theater Tuesday 14th April 2009