Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Rating: R
Length: 91 minutes
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Nicole Kidman (Margot), Jack Black (Malcolm), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Pauline), John Turturro (Jim), Zane Pais (Claude).

When I was imprisoned in Fernley, Nevada for the latter half of the summer, I found “The Squid and the Whale” playing almost daily on the satellite movie package. It was hard to change the channel once I stopped on it and the movie ended up being more rewarding each time I watched it. I have been looking forward to writer/director Noah Baumbach’s next project, “Margot at the Wedding’, even more since I returned home. I was, of course, a bit let down. Not that Baumbach has made an uninteresting picture. It’s just a bit depressing- even for him. The sum is like the most dour moments of “Squid” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (which Baumbach co-wrote) combined. Nicole Kidman plays the title character- an insecure novelist who has come to visit her sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), in preparation for Pauline’s upcoming wedding. She brings her puberty-stricken emo son, Claude (Zane Pais) and are greeted at the train station by Pauline’s fiancée, Malcolm (Jack Black). Malcolm is a former musician who is now a professional painter (kind of). He also has a mustache that, he explains, is supposed to be funny. Pauline and Margot haven’t been on speaking terms and are at each other’s throats in no time. Baumbach had originally titled the movie, “Nicole at the Beach”, as a tribute to French new wave icon Eric Rohmer. He changed the title after Kidman was cast as the character (funny, considering Rohmer made “Pauline at the Beach”). It’s a fitting tribute as Baumbach’s film feels very Rohmer-ish. It is heavy on dialogue and character study. The large difference between Baumbach and Rohmer are their character’s views on morals. Rohmer’s are obsessed with following (or trying to anyway) them and Baumbach’s can’t seem to recognize them at all. “The Squid and the Whale” worked because it had a way of making it’s ugliness comical, “Margot” doesn’t seem to be trying to touch on it’s own humor. It lets it’s characters get nastier and more despicable until you can’t sympathize with any of them.

Soundtrack MP3s:
Blondie- Sunday Girl
Dinosaur Jr.- The Wagon

Pre-order the DVD here (Feb. 19th)
Buy the soundtrack here

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