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Noah Baumbach

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Reply #30 on: May 01, 2013, 06:01:53 PM
'Girls' Star Adam Driver Reteaming With Noah Baumbach For 'While We're Young,' Naomi Watts Also Coming On Board
via The Playlist

The Wrap reports that Driver is reteaming with Baumbach on his long developing "While We're Young," starring Ben Stiller. The movie, which has been in the works for years, follows a Brooklynite twenty-something couple who cross paths with an older, forty-something couple. Stiller will play a documentary filmmaker who -- as the New Yorker recently described -- "becomes entranced by how lightly the younger man treats the enterprise of creative work." Driver, obviously, will play one half of the younger couple.

Moreover, an actress previously attached is now back with Naomi Watts in talks to join as well, playing Stiller's wife. Amanda Seyfried is in the mix to play Driver's partner.

This isn't the first incarnation of movie as Gerta Gerwig, James Franco and Jesse Eisenberg have all been linked in the past, in versions that never got off the ground. But both Stiller and producer Scott Rudin have stuck with the movie, as we reported last month, production is gearing up to go this fall.


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Reply #31 on: May 04, 2013, 12:44:34 PM
Happiness - Noah Baumbach's New Wave
via The New Yorker
by Ian Parker

Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, the actress, met when she starred in his 2010 film, “Greenberg.” They have since become a couple and a writing team, and have just made, back to back, two movies about young women in New York. Photograph by Pari Dukovic.

Noah Baumbach, the writer and director, has been more willing than most to think of his films of the past decade—about disappointment, broken families, dying pets—as comedies. When “Greenberg” opened, in 2010, the spectacle of Ben Stiller as a sour, haunted man—an asshole in a down vest—was so off-putting, to some people, that one cinema posted a sign reading, “We must limit refunds to an hour past the start time.” A few years earlier, during a panel that followed a screening of “Margot at the Wedding,” an audience member compared Nicole Kidman’s character, a self-involved fiction writer, to Hitler’s mother. Baumbach recently told me that in 2005, when he began previewing “The Squid and the Whale,” which is based on memories of his parents’ divorce, he was “expecting more laughs.” He also recalled that, while showing the film to his mother, he began sobbing and had to leave the screening room.

Not long ago, at dusk, Baumbach was in an elegant old café in Berlin, having a jet-lagged late lunch with Greta Gerwig, the actress, before a festival screening of “Frances Ha,” his new film. A black-and-white comedy about young people in New York, it is filled with such a sweetly unfamiliar spirit of joy—or, at least, the prospect that life may hold satisfactions beyond survival—that Baumbach purists may dismiss the film as evidence of the kind of midlife giddiness that can lead to kite-surfing. “Frances Ha” is generous—some critics may say indulgent—in its handling of hip, floating characters who could easily be satirized. Baumbach, who is forty-three, with the collar-length, well-tended hair of a less worried man, seems to have made his “Manhattan,” and he has done so in partnership with Gerwig, who co-wrote the film and plays Frances, a dancer. Baumbach and Gerwig met when he cast her alongside Stiller in “Greenberg”; later, Baumbach separated from Jennifer Jason Leigh, his partner of nine years, and he and Gerwig became both a couple and a writing team. They kept this fairly quiet. When I first met them, in February, they had barely acknowledged their relationship in public, and they had not disclosed that, after finishing “Frances Ha,” they co-wrote a second New York film—something “looser and wonkier,” in Baumbach’s words—and worked together on a cartoon feature, now in development at DreamWorks Animation, about a woeful dog.

In the time that it took Gerwig to drink two beers, Baumbach weighed the case for ordering a glass of wine. They talked about the self-consciousness of Stiller’s character in “Greenberg,” and their own.

Gerwig, who grew up in Sacramento, said, “When I was a kid, I used to do my homework in the living room, where there was a picture window. I was hoping that someone would walk by and see me looking very studious in my living room.”

“I know that,” Baumbach said; he had experienced that sense of an imaginary audience, if not the suburban peace of mind. “When I was a kid, I would fantasize about my own funeral.”

Baumbach has a wary gaze and speaks in careful loops of retraction and calibration; it’s hard to imagine that he spent years doing improvised comedy, during and after college. He has a long, square-chinned face whose handsomeness he is said to recognize but not overprize. (“He treats it like he has a good computer,” Gerwig said.) When striving for clarity, he wiggles the fingers of one hand, but he is otherwise still. Gerwig, who is twenty-nine, also has a precise, literate mind, but she is more buoyant, and sometimes has the air, not uncommon among her contemporaries, of having swallowed a very low dose of LSD. Baumbach’s eyebrows are usually down, and Gerwig’s are up, over a pale, large-featured, casually glamorous face. It annoys her a little to be mistaken for the screwball she has sometimes played in movies, instead of being seen as an adept physical comedian. But, even when she’s off-camera, there is a lot going on: nods, ironic frowns, waist-height waves. One morning, Gerwig and I failed in an attempt to shake hands, our palms sailing past each other in the ornate lobby of Baumbach’s apartment building, on lower Fifth Avenue.

In Berlin, they recalled a recent evening when they had come across “Greenberg” on TV, and watched for a few minutes. Gerwig was the first to protest. As Baumbach recalled, “I was thinking, This seems pretty good.” He laughed. “You said, ‘If you’re going to watch this, I’m going to leave the room.’ ”

As Gerwig later pointed out, Baumbach’s films tend to begin with a sly signpost of the story to come. “The Squid and the Whale” starts with a family of four on a tennis court, and a young boy saying, “Mom and me versus you and Dad.” “Greenberg” opens with Gerwig’s character, an unmoored personal assistant in Los Angeles, walking a dog, then driving. The Steve Miller Band’s “Jet Airliner” plays, breezily, on the soundtrack. As she tries to switch lanes in traffic, she quietly addresses another car, in the film’s first line of dialogue: “Are you going to let me in?”

Watching this on TV, Gerwig could cope with the driving sequence, but when the scene changed—a party, a hookup—all she could see was acting. “I’m embarrassed by how hard I try, how much I go for it,” Gerwig said. “It’s as if you had access to a love letter you wrote a long time ago and—oh, Jesus!—even if you’re proud of it . . .”

By the standards of independent cinema, “Greenberg” was an acceptable commercial success, and it boosted the career of Gerwig, who previously had been in very low-budget and often improvised mumblecore films, like “Baghead.” After “Greenberg,” she worked with Woody Allen and Whit Stillman, and appeared in a remake of “Arthur.” But “Greenberg,” by not becoming a big hit despite the presence of Stiller, felt a little like a failure. “Some of the independent movies that make money have a very specific thing that you can tell audiences they’ll feel about it,” Gerwig said. “ ‘This will make you feel so happy.’ ‘This will make you feel something about your family.’ And anything that’s not that, if it’s ‘This will make you feel perhaps uncomfortable about choices you’ve made in your life’—”

“I like the ‘perhaps,’ ” Baumbach said, with a quiet laugh. “We’re not even guaranteeing that.”

“ ‘This will touch your deep feelings of failure and unworthiness,’ ” Gerwig added, and then remembered her father’s response to the film. “He said, ‘You know they play that Steve Miller song in the beginning? You think, This is really gonna make you feel great.’ ” She laughed. “He was ‘Yes!’ and then ‘What?’ ”

“Frances Ha,” Baumbach said, was like “if the song kept going—if you kept driving, and that Steve Miller song just kept going.”

Instead of “Action!,” Baumbach says, “Begin,” or “When you’re ready,” and then sits motionless but for a movement in his mouth, as if his tongue were searching for a missing tooth. Late one evening in March, he was on a sidewalk in the East Village, shooting a scene for the second film he has written with Gerwig. Still untitled, it will be released next year, in color, with Gerwig as a dauntless New York striver, and Lola Kirke—the twenty-two-year-old sister of Jemima Kirke, who plays Jessa on HBO’s “Girls”—as a Barnard undergraduate in awe of her. Baumbach compared the movie to “The Great Gatsby” and Jonathan Demme’s “Something Wild.” When it is completed, Baumbach and Gerwig will have made two films in which there’s barely a kiss on-camera. Such restraint, however, won’t block all comparisons to “Girls” (bright young women, New York).

As in 2011, when he shot “Frances Ha,” Baumbach was working with a digital camera, in a low-key, almost covert way. There was nothing about the project in Variety or on IMDb. For the permit paperwork, Baumbach had chosen a misleading and dull working title: “Untitled Public School Project.” (“Frances Ha” was “Untitled Digital Workshop.”) New York pedestrians know that a film production involves, at the least, a basket of unripe fruit under a white tent, and a lot of cables. In the absence of that—a small huddle around a camera, in the dark, as Kirke hurried across the street toward Gerwig, at a flower stand—Baumbach’s operation was almost invisible. A passerby explained knowingly to his friends, “This is N.Y.U.-land.”

Baumbach had compared his process to that of a student film, but he had added, “Of course it’s not, at all.” He is a fastidious and formal director, with an educated sense of the American and European canon and his possible place in it. He expects actors to say the lines he wrote for them, and to say them again and again. After the flower stand, the crew moved into Veselka, the twenty-four-hour restaurant on Second Avenue, which remained open to customers while Baumbach filmed until just before dawn. (Around 3 a.m., Kirke yawned and Baumbach called out, “No tiredness!”)

Even a modest independent film can cost more than a hundred thousand dollars a day; “Frances Ha” cost a fraction of that. Actors in “Untitled Public School Project” changed clothes in a van parked on Sixth Street. Baumbach has discovered that elective frugality gives him power. By working with a tiny crew, and by asking people to accept a percentage of the film’s earnings rather than up-front fees, he can impersonate Stanley Kubrick: he can afford to keep a production going week after week, revisit material that turned out badly, and fly to Paris to film a six-minute sequence. One recent day, he did fifty-five takes of Gerwig and Kirke searching through a closet. (Gerwig now finds it unnerving to do just five or so takes for another director: “I don’t know that we’ve actually thought about it enough.”)

Early one morning, Baumbach was in a modern house by a reservoir in Mt. Kisco, New York, shooting a scene for “Untitled Public School Project.” Gerwig’s character was visiting a wealthy ex-boyfriend and his wife, to ask them to invest in a restaurant that she wanted to open in the city. Kirke was also in the scene. The ex-boyfriend, self-conscious about his suburban life, reminisced about his days as a college-radio d.j., and rooted around for ancient weed in the back of the freezer. For much of the day, Baumbach gently urged his actors to speed up: “Don’t be polite about other people’s lines.” Breaking from his usual composure, he demonstrated how to dart up a flight of stairs and then turn and descend, all in one comic, high-kneed movement.

For Baumbach, who has often found dry, witty ways to tell stories of bourgeois inertia, this material had unusual bounce. “The whole sequence is sort of designed like an Ernst Lubitsch movie,” he said to me. “The trick is to hold this kind of style in a movie that also has Lola’s character, alone, in college—things that feel more realistic.” Later, he added, “If ‘Frances’ is a three-and-a-half-minute pop song, this is a five-and-a-half-minute song. Not that the movie will be longer; it’s like that thing of ‘Oh, you pulled off that organ solo in the middle.’ ” He went on, “We’re going for laughs more. Maybe. As much as we go for them.”

They worked for about ten hours. Between takes, there were stretches of silence. Baumbach had murmuring consultations with his co-writer; at one point, he put his hand an inch away from her lower back, without touching her.

“Movie time is like college time,” Baumbach said.

“Days are slow and months are fast?” Gerwig asked.

“If you had a test on Thursday, Friday felt so far away.”

The cinematographer, Sam Levy—at thirty-nine, Baumbach’s oldest colleague in the room—took responsibility that day for hair and makeup. The production designer drove the minivan that brought Baumbach and his actors back to Manhattan. In the passenger seat, Baumbach evaluated possible posters for “Frances Ha”—all of them using an image of Gerwig, caught in a modern-dance leap, by the fountain in City Hall Park. He then began a call with Scott Rudin, his producer, about the casting of a film, “While We’re Young,” that he will direct, this fall, in a much less pared-down way. The script, which he wrote a few years ago, is about two New York couples, one in their early forties, the other in their twenties. Stiller will play the older man, a painstaking documentary filmmaker, who becomes entranced by how lightly the younger man treats the enterprise of creative work. As Baumbach put it, “The young guy sees it all as collage. There’s no genius—you just take what’s useful and you put it all together.” The screenplay is “about realizing that you’re not the young people anymore.” (Rudin told me that Baumbach is “tremendously good at turning psychology into behavior.”)

On the phone, Baumbach resisted the suggestion of a particular actress for the role of Stiller’s wife, calling her work “too manicured.” As he talked, Lola Kirke, two rows behind, described, drowsily and half-seriously, a manicure that she planned to get when the movie was finished: a happy face on one finger, a cannabis leaf on the next, and so on. Gerwig, who at times served as a generational liaison between Baumbach and Kirke, said, affably, “What are you, fourteen?”

Baumbach was still on the phone—“No, not her. Not for this”—when the van stopped in midtown, in front of a building where DreamWorks has an office, and moments later he and Gerwig were in a bare, well-lit room, videoconferencing with executives in California about whether or not cartoon dogs should be seen in hats.

This is Baumbach’s third animated film. He co-wrote Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), based on the Roald Dahl novel. For a children’s film, it has unusually strong notes of melancholy: at one point, Mrs. Fox tells her husband, “I love you, but I never should have married you.” A year later, he rewrote “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” for DreamWorks—a lighter assignment, encouraged by Stiller, who plays the franchise’s lion hero. Baumbach and Gerwig’s screenplay, not yet fully green-lit, is about a Brooklyn mutt, Freddy, who becomes separated from a young girl named Heidi when her parents divorce. Artists in California had sketched a few sequences and showed this material to Baumbach and Gerwig, who were delighted. Baumbach, who plans to direct the film, gave notes, including “The squirrel seems . . . not necessary” and “I love the mustache.” He wondered if it was still realistic to show home delivery of newspapers. Gerwig said, gently, “It’s pretend. Dogs also don’t talk.”

Baumbach and Gerwig then read aloud from a scene that was soon to be storyboarded. Freddy has set off to look for Heidi, who may be in Manhattan, and he has met a guide called Wise Dog, who imagines himself to be sophisticated. Together, they reach the top of a building under construction in Brooklyn. “A blinding light comes through the door,” Baumbach said. “They would approach the edge of the building, and, as their eyes adjust to the light, you’d see Manhattan in the background and the little dogs looking at it.”

Gerwig read Wise Dog’s line: “Every time, it takes my breath away. This, and side two of Rod Stewart’s ‘Every Picture Tells a Story.’ ” (Baumbach later said, “Let’s see if that line makes it into the multiplex.”)

Baumbach continued, “Then Wise Dog says to Freddy, ‘So that’s where you want to go, huh? Manhattan?’ ”

Gerwig read Freddy’s line: “That’s where Heidi is. That’s where I need to be. I know I’m meant to be with her again. I feel her love all around me. And, with every step and every breath, I love her more.”

Although “Frances Ha” surprises with its optimism, it is driven by familiar Baumbach questions: How do people leave their twenties behind? How hard is it to abandon a version of oneself into which one has put some effort? Frances, twenty-seven, is underemployed as a dancer, and she reacts poorly when Sophie, her best friend, played by Mickey Sumner, evolves into someone who has things to do that don’t include her. Frances runs out of money. She’s in motion—switching apartments, changing day jobs—but making no progress. She is given the test that Roger Greenberg apparently failed: in his twenties, he messed up a potential career in pop music, and his life stopped. In “Greenberg,” we meet him at forty.

That late-twenties moment is still vivid to Baumbach, and part of the charm of “Frances Ha” has to do with the way it combines, in one character, a partial self-portrait of two writers, from two generations. If “Girls” describes the life of a certain kind of mid-twenties New Yorker, “Frances Ha” overlays that experience with memory, and the result is as romantic as a forgotten pop song that, years later, revives a place and a mood. The sensation is enhanced by a soundtrack featuring seventies acts like Hot Chocolate and Harry Nilsson.

“At the Frances age, I was kind of agonized,” Baumbach said recently. Brought up in a bookish Brooklyn family, he attended Vassar, and worked as a messenger at this magazine; by the age of twenty-seven, he had made “Kicking and Screaming” and “Mr. Jealousy,” two commercially released films about talky young men in sports jackets. (A third film, “Highball”—shot in six days—was released on video, against Baumbach’s wishes.) Although his two early releases were, at times, infected with the glibness of Woody Allen’s lesser work, they were fairly well received, and “Kicking and Screaming” became a cult favorite, released on DVD by Criterion. But Baumbach felt unsatisfied. “I was ridiculously young. I felt so old,” he told me. He has a rather pitiful memory of flying back to New York from the Toronto Film Festival, hauling the reels of “Mr. Jealousy,” which had failed to impress a distributor. “My persona was, Everything’s O.K., I’m right on track. I was so afraid to admit that I was disappointed or upset.”

By then, he had met Wes Anderson, who became a close friend and a collaborator. “Rushmore,” Anderson’s second movie, was released in 1998, a year after “Mr. Jealousy.” “I saw that he really was doing what was interesting to him, and he was trusting that that would be interesting to other people,” Baumbach said on a rainy afternoon, when we met at Bar Pitti, in the West Village. “Mr. Jealousy” was “kind of personal, but kind of genre-y”—a romantic comedy. “And I saw ‘Rushmore’ and I thought, He’s comfortable making his own genre.” Anderson released “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004)—which he co-wrote with Baumbach, largely in Bar Pitti—before Baumbach finished his next film.

After “Mr. Jealousy,” Baumbach started therapy, though he feared that it would disrupt mysterious paths of creativity. He discovered that the process let him write. “It was a huge change in my life,” he said. “I was less afraid to be embarrassed.” In the first of three scripts apparently connected to therapeutic discoveries, he reëxamined his teen-age years without his usual self-protective equanimity.

The final script of “The Squid and the Whale” was fiction, but the first outpouring was pure memoir. In the nineteen-eighties, Baumbach, the older of two brothers, was an assured, popular student at Midwood High School. According to his longtime friend Matthew Kaplan, Baumbach had little doubt that he would become a filmmaker: “He’d say, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’ ” His father, Jonathan Baumbach, taught at Brooklyn College, published experimental fiction, and had written about film in Partisan Review. His mother, Georgia Brown, also published fiction; she was later a film critic at the Village Voice. The family lived in Park Slope. (Thanks to a location scout who happened to knock, the Baumbachs’ dining room appears in “Heartburn,” when Meryl Streep pushes a Key-lime pie into Jack Nicholson’s face.) One evening, when Noah was fourteen, his parents asked him to make sure that he came straight home after seeing a movie with friends. He knew what was coming. “I watched ‘Romancing the Stone,’ knowing my fate,” he recalled. Back at the house, he began to cry even before the announcement was made: his parents were separating, and his father was moving to a house across the park, where the boys would sleep on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and every other Thursday. That awkward custody arrangement was unchanged in the movie.

It was not a remarkable story, but Baumbach’s sardonic screenplay, which was nominated for an Oscar, was clear-eyed about the sorrows and pretensions of adolescence, and it created, in the figure of the father, a singularly uneasy egotist. After years of trying to raise funds, Baumbach eventually shot it in twenty-three days, “in a kind of fever dream.” Jeff Daniels played the father; Laura Linney the mother. Baumbach had not shown the script to his parents, who until then had read everything he wrote, although he did give a cameo to his father. When Noah showed the film to his mother, he recalled, “It was like a cat bringing a dead bird as if it was a present. It was a tribute, but it was also a rebellion.”

The film was released in 2005. Baumbach found it painful to read reviews that noted only the parents’ flaws: the narcissism of the father, the blitheness of the mother. Baumbach now regrets that he didn’t include a few more notes of homage. “My dad was a great movie companion,” he told me. “He wouldn’t diminish ‘The Jerk.’ If I liked it, he liked it. He could see it through my eyes.”

Georgia Brown lives for much of the year in Italy. When she was in New York a few weeks ago, I visited her house in the West Village and was introduced to Michael Cary, her partner, a retired architect and high-school teacher, who in “The Squid and the Whale” was reinvented as a tennis pro, played by William Baldwin.

Brown was wearing the kind of outfit that her son wears: a gray cardigan over a white shirt. She recalled a scene in the film where Frank, the younger of the two boys, returns unexpectedly to his mother’s house one evening. She comes downstairs, half-dressed, followed by the tennis pro—“What’s up, brother?”—and Frank learns of the romance. Brown said that this was based on a real incident, but that it had been Noah, not his younger brother, who had come back to the house. “It was when I was first going out with Michael, and the kids were supposed to be at their dad’s. I could hear somebody in the kitchen, and I came downstairs and said, ‘Oh, Noah, I have to tell you that there’s somebody here with me.’ And he looked up with this radiant smile and said, ‘Mom, that’s just like in the movies!’ And then he put it into a movie.” She laughed.

She found the film “an immense, and delightful, therapeutic triumph,” but was initially shocked by the representation of Walt, the older boy, played by Jesse Eisenberg. Whereas Noah had been so charismatic at that age, she said, Walt was “tense, humorless, somewhat sycophantic.” One could also say that he was scathing, especially toward his mother—“You disgust me”—but Brown didn’t see him that way. She described Noah’s shaping of Walt as a brave creative choice. I asked if the film had shown her that Noah was less happy at the time than she had realized, and the question seemed to surprise her a little. “I’ll think about it,” she said. Later, she e-mailed a response: “You mustn’t assume that my picture of real-life Noah as this charming, quietly hilarious, confident boy underestimates the boy’s capacity for spite, fury, and, most especially, grief.”

Baumbach was slightly taken aback by his mother’s recollection of the staircase incident. He recalls extreme discomfort. Although he may have said something about movies, he told me, any smile would have been counterfeit.

Jonathan Baumbach claims to have taken Noah to Truffaut’s “The Wild Child” when he was two. (“Maybe five,” Noah told me.) He described the teen-age Noah as “extremely confident and poised—but, you know, poise often hides a certain anxiety.” When Jonathan first saw “The Squid and the Whale” (for which Jeff Daniels borrowed his brown corduroy jacket), he left the screening room feeling anxious but “got over it very quickly.” His son called, half an hour later, “wanting to know why I hadn’t already responded to the film.” He added, “Noah’s joke is that ‘The Squid and the Whale’ was me at my worst, ‘Margot’ was Georgia at her worst, and ‘Greenberg’ was him at his worst.”

Late one night, in Berlin, Baumbach and Gerwig had drinks with Scott Foundas, a friend who is a film critic and a former programmer at the New York Film Festival. The conversation touched on “Margot at the Wedding” (2007), which starred Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Kidman, as Margot, visits Leigh, her sister, in a big house on an island somewhere in the Northeast, and takes her twelve-year-old son, whom she treats, at times, like a disappointing ex-lover. (“You used to be rounder, more graceful.”) The movie, though memorably fraught, is perhaps overfilled with ideas for smart short stories. It can feel like an application for membership in cinema’s first rank. Baumbach acknowledges his debt to Éric Rohmer, a director he loves, and to Ingmar Bergman’s “The Silence,” a film that also starts on a train, and involves two sisters, a boy, and strange things seen from a hotel window. Baumbach explained to Foundas, “I wanted the feeling of when you’re inside, and having a conversation, and the light starts to fade outside, and you don’t turn on the light. That’s what the whole movie looks like.” Earlier, Gerwig, thinking of that light, and of a shot of a child’s shoe dropped on a forest path, and of seemingly lurid goings on in the house next door, had joked, “I thought it was a horror movie.” Baumbach replied, “I thought I was making a comedy.”

The film received several angry, confounded reviews. In Time, Richard Schickel called it “no more than an invitation to wallow in ill-defined neuroses,” adding, “He’s the kind of filmmaker who thinks that if he sets his star to masturbating on camera, he’s making a statement, when all he’s actually doing is signifying the true spirit of the movie.”

Foundas, an admirer of the film, recalled that Steven Soderbergh had recently said to him, “People seem to be willing to accept complexity in behavior in television in a way they don’t in movies.” Foundas went on, “Even in comedies—in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ where Larry David behaves reprehensibly all the time—people are willing to entertain two thoughts at the same time. But movie audiences seem to want a simpler, or more obviously entertaining or spectacular, experience.”

“Do you think it’s because they’re seeing these characters over a longer period of time?” Baumbach asked. Earlier, he had observed that traits one could accept in a novel’s protagonist, or in a complicated friend, often seemed loathsome to modern moviegoers.

“What Margot says to her son upsets people because their mother said that to them, or they’ve thought about saying that to their child,” Foundas said, then laughed. “Whatever it is, there’s clearly a limited appetite for it.”

Before “Frances Ha,” this seemed to be Baumbach’s fate: to pursue a literary career through the medium of film, while ruefully noting that, in the nineteen-seventies, someone who had made work like this might have had a reputation as a mainstream director. “Greenberg” is an explicit attempt to channel the work of Philip Roth and Saul Bellow. “With the title, I was thinking of Portnoy or Herzog,” he told me. “I can’t say this well, but I felt I could do cinematically what I loved about those writers and those books.”

Gerwig noted that Roth and Bellow often told a story “relentlessly from one point of view.” In film, though, “when you put a camera on something, you’re here and that’s there.” Instead of inhabiting a man’s psyche, you had to put up with it, across the room. “Greenberg” is a good and funny film, but one wonders if Baumbach has always fully recognized the cinematic challenge of presenting difficult people, even as he meets the literary challenge of acute, merciless portraiture.

“Greenberg” was shot in 2009. Because of Gerwig’s background in improvised movies, Baumbach put her through many auditions. She recalled, “There was a little bit of ‘Do you know what you’re doing? Can you do this in a controlled way, or are you just some weird person who has no shame?’ ” Baumbach came to realize, he said, that “Greta has old studio-system chops. Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, they could be in something totally dramatic, or totally funny; they could sing, they could dance. ‘Frances’ was intended to be a showcase for her to do a lot of this.”

After she was hired for “Greenberg,” they began to discuss her character, Florence, and some of Gerwig’s thoughts were dropped into Baumbach’s script. One was a remark that Florence makes to the man she brings home from a party: “I’ve been out of college now for as long as I was in, and nobody cares if I get up in the morning.” (Gerwig graduated, from Barnard, in 2006.)

They shot in L.A., largely in the house of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s mother. Leigh played Greenberg’s ex-girlfriend and shared, with Baumbach, the film’s story credit. After that, Baumbach and Gerwig had little contact until the movie’s world première, at the Berlin Film Festival, almost a year later. The film was released in March, 2010, shortly after Leigh and Baumbach—who had been married for five years—had their first child, a son they named Rohmer.

Leigh and Baumbach separated a few months later. If the split was connected to his experience working with Gerwig, this remains hidden: Baumbach and Gerwig firmly place the start of their romance at a point after his separation. Baumbach thinks that aspects of his divorce might eventually appear in his work. There’s already some reflection of it in the animated movie about the mutt, whose story, Baumbach said, contests the thought that “divorced families are flawed families. There are no flawed dogs or flawed families.” Baumbach shares custody of his son. Now three, Rohmer lives primarily with Leigh (and the family dog, Freddy) in L.A., where Baumbach keeps a home; he tries not to be away from his son for more than two weeks at a time. One morning, I met Rohmer in New York, in Baumbach’s bright, never-ending apartment: he was wearing gold battle armor and was knighted by Gerwig after slaying his father, the dragon.

After his separation, Baumbach worked on the scripts for “While We’re Young” and “Madagascar 3.” He also had his first conversations about an adaptation of “The Corrections,” Jonathan Franzen’s novel, for HBO. He would direct; he and Franzen would write it; Rudin would produce it. They eventually mapped out four seasons of ten episodes each, and in 2012 shot a pilot, with a cast that included Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, and Gerwig. HBO passed on the series. Baumbach, and others, declined to show me the pilot. “We were trying to do too much,” he said. “It was too expensive. We were jumping around in time: every episode would go back in time, and you’d see the family at younger ages, but as a result there was everything I try to avoid when making movies: old-age makeup, young-age makeup, different actors playing the same characters at different ages.” A key member of the pilot’s production told me that Baumbach seemed to be “just trying to get through it,” and was disengaged and unavailable: “It was, Boy, we really need more time with Noah.” To get a decision required “pulling teeth.” The pilot was unfinished when it was shown to HBO. Baumbach, who recognizes that he is not a natural showrunner, recalls that, when it was over, “I said to Greta, ‘How could I have miscalculated this?’ She said, ‘You don’t really watch TV.’ ” He laughed. “I was like, ‘You’re right.’ ”

In the summer of 2010, while Baumbach was helping to set this multimillion-dollar enterprise in motion, he had thoughts about a lightweight digital movie, and a connected thought about working again with Gerwig. He asked her if she had any suggestions for a film in which she might act. Gerwig, in her post-“Greenberg” boom, was shooting “No Strings Attached,” with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. “I wrote a list, and then I sat on it because I was scared to send it,” she told me. “It was just ideas, either for a character or scenes or situations, and they weren’t necessarily related.” She finally e-mailed it to him. “He loved it,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I can totally see this in a movie and I can see what kind of movie it is. Let’s keep going.’ ”

On March 3rd, a trailer for “Frances Ha” was posted online. Baumbach and Gerwig were in a hall in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, shooting a pop-concert scene for “Untitled Public School Project”; the night before, he had prepared by watching “The Last Waltz.” Between takes, Baumbach showed me the trailer, which starts with Frances and Sophie larking around New York, to ebullient music borrowed from Truffaut’s New Wave classic “The 400 Blows.” The soundtrack then changes to David Bowie’s “Modern Love”: “I know when to go out / I know when to stay in / Get things done.”

Baumbach and Gerwig were being pressed by the distributors of “Frances Ha” to promote the trailer, but they both lacked Twitter accounts. Baumbach wrote to Stiller, with the subject line “Embarrassing email,” and asked him if he would mind tweeting a link to the trailer to his nearly four million followers. Gerwig texted Lena Dunham, the creator of “Girls,” who is a friend of theirs: nine hundred thousand followers. “She’s so good at it, so plugged in,” Gerwig said. “She’s the Oprah of hipsters.” Both friends coöperated.

Not long afterward, I met Baumbach at Bar Pitti again, and he showed me the earliest “Frances Ha” document that he’d been able to find: a list of first thoughts that he and Gerwig had compiled after she sent her original note. It was written in both the first person and the third person: “I keep thinking about a leather jacket. Not a cool one, just something a friend had given her because she didn’t want it anymore. Maybe it’s too big, and there’s no perfect season to actually wear it.” (Frances does have this jacket.) “She should have moments where she actually appreciates the city, walks through the park because she can, and that kind of stuff. But it’s hailing. I don’t know. I was hailed on once.” There were suggestions about running, mid-date, to an A.T.M.; having bruises one can’t account for; a reckless trip to Paris. These are all in the movie. In one striking sentence, Baumbach and Gerwig seemed to set themselves an onerous writing challenge: “Maybe she has some idea of how she thinks the world should work which people make fun of, even she knows is ridiculous, but in the end kind of happens for her.” In slightly different terms, they pulled this off.

There was little here about a best friend, and this absence reinforces one possible reaction to the film: that the story of Sophie is perfunctory, and too evidently has the task of framing the portrait of Frances, and of steering the film away from romantic comedy. (Gerwig’s early idea was to give the film no shape: five disconnected episodes.) The document also has many ideas that never reached the script: “She becomes involved with obese women on a message board online. She claims also to be obese”; “Her dog died while she was away.” Much of what was excluded points to embarrassment and sexual exposure. One sentence reads, “She should be naked and conflicted about it.”

At Bar Pitti, Peter Bogdanovich, the director and actor, joined Baumbach for dinner. They have been close since Bogdanovich played a therapist in “Mr. Jealousy.” Separately, Bogdanovich also became friends with Wes Anderson. “I call them Son Wes and Son Noah, and they call me Pop,” Bogdanovich told me. This summer, Baumbach and Anderson plan to produce “Squirrels to the Nuts,” the first feature that Bogdanovich has directed in more than a decade. Baumbach sees, in this gesture of cross-generational solidarity, a reflection of the support that Bogdanovich gave to Orson Welles in his later career. (Among other things, Bogdanovich published a collection of admiring interviews.) Discussing “Squirrels,” Baumbach and Bogdanovich bonded over the annoyance of dull yet unavoidable shots. “It’s ridiculous!” Baumbach said. “ ‘She glances at them for this one moment,’ and we’ve got to actually do that moment!” They talked about Robert Altman—Baumbach said “totally singular” at the very instant that Bogdanovich said “overrated”—and Baumbach remembered an answering-machine message that Altman had once left him, which his mother later accidentally deleted, “along with a message from my therapist the weekend he died, trying to change our appointment.” He paused. “Little did I know, he was changing it forever.”

Gerwig arrived.

“How did you get more attractive?” Bogdanovich asked.

“Oh, Peter,” Gerwig said. She told him that “Untitled Public School Project” still needed a title.

“Look for song titles—they’re always the best,” Bogdanovich advised.

At Baumbach’s urging, Bogdanovich told a story about once being encouraged by Cary Grant to sneak into a theatre where one of his movies was playing, to relish the laughter. He then told another, about a call from Grant. This was when Bogdanovich was in a long relationship with Cybill Shepherd. “Cybill and I were getting all that bad press,” Bogdanovich said. “Couldn’t open a newspaper or magazine without something nasty. And Cary calls me and says, ‘Peter!’ ”—Bogdanovich had the voice—“ ‘Will you for Christ’s sake stop telling people you’re happy, and stop telling them you’re in love?’ ‘Why, Cary?’ ‘Because they’re not happy, and they’re not in love.’ ‘I thought that all the world loves a lover.’ ‘No. Don’t you believe it.’ ”

One could think of “Frances Ha” as an e-mail courtship that accidentally created a fine movie. At lunch in Berlin, Gerwig looked for a way to describe the experience: “It’s sort of like—this is a ridiculous way to say it—but like a nun in a convent singing over a wall to someone she knows is on the other side. And the person thinking, That song is for me, but not really knowing it’s for them, but then it was for them. And then they meet one day.” She added, “I re-watched ‘The Sound of Music’ recently.”

Though “Frances Ha” has no romantic plot, it is an expression of an emerging love affair. Baumbach said, “I think so. You can say that. If we say it . . .” He put a finger to his mouth and made a quiet vomiting sound.

“Oh, my God,” Gerwig said.

He said, “It always felt important that Frances get a victory and be protected in the movie, and I’m sure on some level it was because I wanted to protect Greta.”

“I also think we have to believe in a happy ending,” Gerwig said. “We have to, otherwise what is anybody doing? I always have this frustration that, in a therapeutic sense, it can feel you have one of two ways of relating to your parents: one is you’re in denial, and the other is you can be really angry at them. And I’m, like, there has to be a way in which you just love them.” She continued, “And I feel that there has to be a story that’s true to its marrow and also filled with joy. There has to be that. Otherwise, it’s utterly depressing.”

She went on, “This is lofty”—a lot of emphasis—“but in one of Hamlet’s soliloquies he says, ‘This brave o’erhanging firmament,’ and he’s talking about the air and the stars and how everything is so alive and so beautiful, and at the end of it he says, ‘It means nothing, it means nothing, and I don’t want to live.’ And I’m, like, ‘How can you see everything and then feel that way?’ I always want to find the reverse of that—to see all the darkness and find the light, as opposed to see all the light and resonate with the nothingness.”

Baumbach imagined the article being prepared: “ ‘At that point, Gerwig launched into a “Hamlet” soliloquy.’ ”

“So bad,” Gerwig said, in mock shame, telling Baumbach, “Or it’s going to show up in the next thing that you write on your own.” That last remark, though joking, pointed to some likely evolution in their work relationship. Gerwig recognizes aspects of herself in the character of the younger woman in “While We’re Young”—including a moment at a dinner party, witnessed by Baumbach, when Gerwig couldn’t stop laughing while telling a story about seeing, as a child, her dog torn apart by Rottweilers. Gerwig has since written her own script, alone. When she showed an early version to Baumbach, he offered to direct it. He also asked if he could help her finish writing it. “He wanted to absorb it,” she said, laughing. She thought for two weeks, and then declined, having decided to direct it herself. I asked if he had been gracious about her choice. “Yes,” she said. “Half-gracious.”

Baumbach described “Frances Ha” as a more even collaboration than past ones, in which he’d either supported someone else’s vision (Anderson) or asked others to support his (Leigh). Gerwig recalled worrying that if she acted in “Frances Ha” people wouldn’t believe that she really co-wrote it; because of the improvisation in her past, “It would be ‘He shot her while she was talking and gave her a credit.’ ” A writing partner who deepens someone’s work even as she lightens it does not want to be mistaken for a director’s muse, like the actresses who inspired Bogdanovich, Woody Allen, or John Cassavetes. When we talked in New York, Gerwig said, “Noah’s a realist and pragmatist, and he sees things without adornment. Which is helpful for someone writing about how people actually are and how they feel. For me, I feel like the adornment sometimes is what is true.” Gerwig occasionally goes to church. “Noah says, ‘You do that because you’re a guilty person.’ ” She laughed. “No, I think I do it because it connects me with a story that I don’t think is true, but I think is somehow resonant. Everything doesn’t have to be true to have power.”

Baumbach started shooting “Frances Ha” in August, 2011, after Gerwig returned from Italy, where she had acted in Allen’s “To Rome with Love.” Baumbach asked himself if he really was making a movie if nobody knew about it. One key location was the Chinatown apartment that Gerwig shared with roommates, furnished with vintage chairs and shelves of vinyl records.

A month or so into the production, Gerwig and Baumbach became a couple. They had tried this a few months earlier, while writing, but they had failed, and Gerwig had started another relationship. She now broke up with her new boyfriend, explaining, “I’m in love with Noah.”

Over Christmas, they flew to Sacramento, where Gerwig’s parents still live. In the film, they play the part of Frances’s parents, and in one scene they see off their daughter at the Sacramento airport. That day, Baumbach was short of time, and there had been little preparation. He needed Gerwig to reach the top of an escalator and look back at her parents, standing below, holding their dog. “I’m thinking, Give that look that will be heartbreaking,” Baumbach told me. “I didn’t say that, but it’s what I’m thinking. And Greta just turns around, and it was the look you see in the movie”—the ache in an ordinary family farewell. “It’s a killer.”

“Thanks, Noah,” Gerwig said, touched. “I was happy with that, too. Whatever that was. That’s how I feel every time I leave.”

After screenings, Gerwig has been happily surprised by the reaction of people who are the age of Frances’s parents. “They say, ‘I thought she would go home and it would be a bad place and they would fight. I’m so happy they were just good parents.’ ”

On their last night in Berlin, Baumbach and Gerwig were sitting on low square stools in the second-floor lobby of a Berlin theatre, eating pretzels. Baumbach wore a dark suit, and Gerwig wore a maroon coat and orange stilettos that required her to hold on to handrails, or Baumbach, when in motion. They had just made a red-carpet entrance at the festival screening, with autographs and photographs, and then taken their seats in an audience of two thousand. When the film began—Frances and Sophie, play-fighting in Tompkins Square Park—they had crept out to the lobby, with Jeremy Barber, their agent.

Fans of “Greenberg” would recognize Barber’s laugh; he is the man who, during Greenberg’s birthday dinner, claps as he laughs, prompting Greenberg to say to Ivan, his old friend, “Laughing already demonstrates appreciation. The applause seems superfluous.”

There was laughter from the theatre. Baumbach recalled standing outside a screening of “Kicking and Screaming,” when a woman came out and asked him to agree that the film was terrible. “I said, ‘It was all right.’ ” He laughed. “I couldn’t go either way—I couldn’t create a character who said, ‘Yes, it was terrible!’ or said, ‘I made it, you bitch!’ I said, ‘Oh, it was O.K.’ ” Barber had been carrying the contents of Baumbach’s pockets, including his house keys and his ChapStick. Baumbach took back the latter and, with the particular happiness with which a self-protective person allows himself to sink beneath the waters of affectionate mockery, listened to Barber and Gerwig riff about his ChapStick tic, which he gave to Roger Greenberg. Gerwig pressed him: “Where do you buy it?”

“You can be aware that something is idiosyncratic, and give it to a character, but keep doing it,” Baumbach eventually said. “And I feel I’m so different from Greenberg in so many ways.” It’s hard to get a good measure of Baumbach’s anxiety levels. “He could have been Greenberg,” Stiller told me. “Noah’s so smart and observant, of it all, that, without the success that he’s had, it would be a pretty painful existence.” Baumbach regrets food orders the moment he has made them. When he starts comparing airlines and flight paths, a look comes over Gerwig’s face. Greenberg is surely quoting Baumbach when he says, “I wish I could be one of those guys who doesn’t care where he dumps his coat at a party.” But this is not exactly self-doubt: Gerwig told me that, not long ago, she made a joke about always falling for nerds. “And Noah said, ‘I am not a nerd.’ And I realized, Oh! You don’t think of yourself as a nerd at all!” Greenberg’s discomfort sits atop a mountain of self-regard and single-mindedness; his worry is not that he is worthless but that the world risks underestimating his worth. Baumbach is not this person, and he has a sense of humor, but he has been directing people since his teens, and has firm passenger-seat opinions about which exit to take off the West Side Highway. At a press conference for “Frances Ha,” he compared the film to “the records Paul McCartney made after the Beatles. He made them in his basement, and they were really big-sounding but also intimate.” This is the grandest possible way to describe modest cultural ambitions. Baumbach could have given the thought to Jeff Daniels for “The Squid and the Whale.”

After Baumbach finished shooting “Frances Ha,” he spent months refining the footage. The richly textured black-and-white images of the finished film are the product of repeated digital manipulation by Pascal Dangin, a retoucher known as the “photo whisperer.” Baumbach began to show the film, which was still unannounced, to friends. Peter Bogdanovich wrote an effusive e-mail that began, “Son of mine, I’m extremely proud of your accomplishment.” Baumbach’s actual father regards “Frances Ha” as Noah’s best film.

Baumbach’s earlier movies are not despairing. They end with things at least no worse than they were at the start, after a period of awkwardness. (“A Noah happy ending,” in Stiller’s words.) Nobody dies, although you worry about the animals, which seem to carry the burden of human mortality. But those films are wary of mollycoddling an audience. “Probably, at some level, I’m not quite letting you laugh, and then getting annoyed when I don’t get the laugh,” Baumbach told me.

When “Frances Ha” was shown at the Telluride Film Festival, last September, it received a standing ovation. For Baumbach, it was “a very nice feeling to have a movie where you can actually experience the reaction,” rather than guess at it. Gerwig said, “We lived the Telluride fantasy, which is that your movie is loved and people stop you in the street.”

In the Berlin lobby, Baumbach and Gerwig heard sudden cheering. They rushed back to retake their seats. As the applause continued over the end credits, and over David Bowie, Gerwig sang along—“Church on time”—and danced a little in her seat, and gave Baumbach a look that said, This could be worse.


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Reply #32 on: May 14, 2013, 12:35:05 PM
Interview: Noah Baumbach Talks 'Frances Ha', Liking His 'Unlikeable' Characters, What's Next & More
via The Playlist

We recently had the good fortune to speak with filmmaker Noah Baumbach as he starts the long, winding road of press for the upcoming release of his latest film, the sublime black-and-white character piece and uproarious comedy "Frances Ha," starring Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Baumbach). The writer/director, shot 'Frances' on the quick and quiet (hardly anyone knew it even existed until it premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last year), though he claims he didn't set out to keep the movie a secret.

Regardless of Baumbach's motives, he seems quite taken with this approach to film-making, as it was near impossible to get even a morsel out of him when asked about his follow-up, which we've since gotten a little more info on. While he was cagey to divulge much of anything on this new film, he did open up about plenty of other things, not least of which is the quite wonderful "Frances Ha." It's one of Baumbach's best films and perhaps sees the filmmaker turning over a slightly different leaf in his cinematic interests, following a lead character who, despite her classic Baumbach-ian stasis in life, is a much more sympathetic, less-prickly person the audience will no doubt enjoy following onscreen. In our review from Telluride last year, we noted that for Baumbach "it marks an exciting new period in the filmmaker’s oeuvre and one that will hopefully yield many more collaborations with the endearing and charming Greta Gerwig... The alchemy between them has produced a seriously funny, sad and engaging dramedy and it's one of Baumbach's best efforts to date." Read on for more on the film, plus plenty of other cool nuggets, from its director.

In just about all your other films except "Frances Ha," there's this idea of the unlikeable protagonist, which you've pushed more intensely with every film. Why are you attracted to that?
I never think of them as unlikeable. I really don't. With "Greenberg,"  I had been interested for a while in this character, where things hadn't panned out the way he wanted them to, and he couldn't acknowledge that was the case, and he was too embarrassed to admit it. The more I explored that guy, I suppose the character became pricklier. But I always had great affection for him. So I understand to some degree what people mean when they refer to [my] characters as unlikeable, but I actually disagree with it. 

So you're not setting out to challenge the audience, you actually empathize with these characters?
Yeah, I think that's how people can be. Some people are that way. From where I sit, these are all people who are not unlike people I've come across in my life. It doesn't mean I see all people this way. They all felt like true characters to me.

They're definitely characters you don't often see represented in cinema.
Right, for instance, with "Greenberg" I became aware after I made it that there was probably another version of this movie where Ivan was the protagonist and Greenberg was his difficult friend. And maybe that would've been the more accessible way to do it [laughs], and maybe I should've tried it that way. For whatever reason I thought let's come at it from the other guy's perspective.

"Frances Ha" does seem different from those films. Greta Gerwig stars here, she's naturally likeable and adorable. The camera seems to love her. Yet she does retain those qualities of all your characters. She's in stasis, unable to realize her dreams...
Yeah, Greenberg is a 40-something-year-old guy whose ideas about himself and his life haven't been supported by his actual experience, and it created the character of Greenberg as we discover him. I felt like that was the right movie and tone for that character. Frances, on the other hand, is 27 and can't get out of her own way, she has ideas about her life and how things should be that aren't supported by her experience as well but it's a different trajectory for her. She is more open to experience. She is able to adjust herself and make those difficult decisions. Taking a desk job is a heroic moment, in a way, for her in in this movie. This is the movie that is right for this character. I've always felt like it's a matter of emphasis. They're different people at different times in their lives and different circumstances, but I feel like both are equally true. And Frances was so inspired by Greta as an actor, what she can bring to a part. And also, what she did bring in the writing process. It would've been truly unsatisfying to not reward Frances, because the character deserved it, I felt. But with a different character it could feel false to reward them.

You've worked with Greta, whom you're in a relationship with right now, on the past two films and before that with your wife at the time, Jennifer Jason Leigh. I'm curious, why are you attracted to working with significant others and people you're close with in real life?
Both of them just happened to be remarkable actresses and people I would want to work with anyway. Many of the crew members I work with and continue to work with were friends or have become close friends and so we keep working together. And I like casting friends of mine or people I know in parts I know would be perfect for them. I like to bring things and people that mean something to me in to my work. I think it brings something out in the experience for me that's not really quantifiable. I like shooting in New York because I have such a connection to the city. I have so many memories there. Even in movies that are less directly autobiographical than, say, "Squid and the Whale" I use places from my life. In 'Frances' we used Vassar where I went to college. Even though it's under much different circumstances for Frances than it was for me when I went there, it does bring something out in the filmmaking. I think with Jennifer and Greta, they're two of the best actresses around.

You've mentioned elsewhere that you wanted "Frances Ha" to have the feel of a pop song that you immediately want to listen to to again when it's over...
There's something very musical about the structure of the script and the rhythm of it. It has lots of little moments followed by longer scenes. And lots of little bursts of scenes and moments and then a scene will play out almost in real time. The music in the movie too is so strong and grand and romantic and joyous, both the score but also the pop songs that are in it. It was more something I thought about afterward. I'm not musical. I don't think I could actually write a pop song but this is the closest I could come to it.

Do you have more plans moving forward to make your next movies on the quick, secret and cheap?
Yeah, though I would not say it's cheap. The whole way of making 'Frances' is working with people and locations - if they charged you what they normally charge or they took their normal fee than this would be as expensive as anything I've made. It's really about finding the right movie for the right circumstance, and it felt like this was the right way to make this movie. Going back to the pop song thing, I did think about Paul McCartney records he made, post-Beatles, like Ram, that were made with smaller circumstances, a lower key way of making the record. But the records are no less big. They have big sounds, the intimacy and the personality is clear, but the songs are as crafted and beautiful as anything he might do with a big band in a recording studio, like Band on the Run.

What about the secretive approach you took with "Frances Ha"? Nobody knew this movie was even coming out until it debuted last year.
I didn't set out to make it [that way], that was really a bonus that it stayed off the internet until it was announced for those festivals. I just wanted to focus on the movie, find a way that the actors and crew could be about the making of the movie and not expectations for it. I didn't show the actors the full script, they only saw what they were in. For all the people making it, while at the same time I think they felt part of a group and part of the process, they only needed to know what they were doing, and I think it kept everyone very much in the moment and not working for a result. It became more about the process. The fact that it actually became a secret was cool, but that wasn't my goal.

You're working on a new project [ed note. the still-untitled film we reported on recently], and may have even finished shooting. Can you tell us anything about a new film you may or may not be shooting right now?
I can't say anything about what I'm doing right now. I am going to make a movie in the fall, though, with Ben Stiller, that I wrote... That I can tell you.

Are you shooting a film right now? [ed. note: this interview took place more than a month ago]
I can't give you anything on that [laughs].

Fair enough. Moving on, I have heard that there's a title already for a film you've finished, called "While Were Young." Is that finished, can you tell me anything about that?
That's the one I'm doing in the fall, and that's the title, yeah.

You mentioned Stiller will be in that, anybody else you can tell us that's already cast? Is Greta going to be in the film?
Were still making deals right now with actors so soon I can tell you, but I can't yet just in case things don't work out.

Are you excited about this film?
Definitely. It's a script I wrote before 'Frances.' At one point I thought I was going to make it first but things didn't come together so I made Frances in the mean time, but I think it's coming back together in a really great way.

You're the son of two film critics [novelist/film critic Jonathan Baumbach and Village Voice critic Georgia Brown]. I imagine a version of the scene from "Squid and the Whale," where Jeff Daniels insists on taking Jesse Eisenberg and his girlfriend to "Blue Velvet" instead of "Short Circuit," must have come from your own experience. How has being raised by two critics shape you as a filmmaker and affect your taste in films?
Something that naturally occurred once I started making movies is that I lost the intellectual approach to watching movies. As a kid, I rebelled to some degree against my parents influence in movies because they made me aware of foreign films and movies that I wasn't interested in when I was 10 years old. But I was aware these were considered good movies, so I kind of reveled at the time in Steve Martin, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase movies, which are all still movies I love, it's just they were more appropriate for my age at the time. But when I got to college I sort of retrospectively appreciating what my parents had made me aware of in terms of movies and I started getting in to European and certain American movies. Once I started making movies, it changes, my approach is much more emotional than it was before. My brother [Nico Baumbach] is a film professor at Columbia, we both bond over movies and talk about them all the time. But his theoretical approach to movie is so hard for me to understand, I respect it but I can't really participate in that kind of conversation anymore.

You made two films in 1997, "Mr. Jealousy" and "Highball" which you used a pseudonym for. Why was there that gap from '97 to 2005 for you as a director?
Well, I made two movies right away in my early to mid 20s, "Kicking and Screaming" and then I made "Mr. Jealousy." I had a hard time making ["Mr. Jealousy"] and it didn't do as well as I hoped. "Highball" was actually never really a finished movie. It was something we tried to do with the short ends of "Mr. Jealousy." It was never meant to be shown unless I finished it but we could never get enough money to finish it so I don't really count that in the same way it's just something that's out there. It [the gap between films from '97 to '05] was a combination of things. I had wrote a couple things that I got close to making but it didn't. I think it became a period where I discovered another, more personal approach to filmmaking. I think I kind of discovered myself as a filmmaker during that period. Then I wrote "Squid and the Whale" which at the time felt like a breakthrough, like I was writing in a new way for me, less worried about what people would think or its commercial prospects, and wrote what was interesting to me. And it just took a long time to get made [laughs]. I put everything I had in to that movie at the time. I knew it was sort of my last chance. All this build up I knew exactly how I wanted to do it. everything I had I was spent after making that movie.

What do you think about the comparisons some people may make for "Frances Ha" to "Girls"?
I haven't seen it, it wasn't out when we made 'Frances'. I knew Lena [Dunham] and liked her a lot, and I loved "Tiny Furniture." I can understand why they would be compared.

"Frances Ha," while still a Noah Baumbach film through and through, seems like you're exploring characters and subjects away from your personal experience.
Every movie has its reasons why I make that one and not another one. Generally in the early stages when I have a blank page and I'm thinking about what I want to work on, there's usually a few things that are out there. "While Were Young" for instance, I've had ideas that have connected to this for a while that just needed time to become the movie it did. It's true for all them. I've been wanting for a while to do something stripped down and I wanted to shoot digitally too which I hadn't done. I feel like technology has gotten to a point now that would hold up with everything else I've made. Musicians get to make b-sides and acoustic albums and they can say, "That's not a real album it's a side project." You can't do that with movies, every movie you make is your next movie. So I knew if I was going to do something in this new way I had to find a way that it would be great. And I wanted the movie to be beautiful and elegant. I didn't want it to be grungy or feel indie. I wanted something grand and cinematic and formal, in a way. All of this are right at home with the character of Frances. Working with Greta and developing this together definitely brought out new things in me, though I'm not as aware of it when I'm making the movies as someone who writes about them. I'm just going with what is interesting to me and what I think will make an enjoyable movie and not put too much thought in it.

"Frances Ha" opens in limited release May 17th, courtesy of IFC Films.


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Reply #33 on: May 14, 2013, 02:23:37 PM
He was on WTF yesterday. Good interview. I'm looking forward to Frances Ha.


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Reply #34 on: May 18, 2013, 07:38:48 PM
Noah Baumbach interviewed on The Business. Also, scroll down for an extended audio clip where he clarifies what happened to the HBO adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections he shot the pilot for.


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Reply #35 on: May 18, 2013, 07:52:39 PM
Noah Baumbach on conversational collaboration and small ideas that don't stay small
via FastToCreate

The director and cowriter of Frances Ha--who also wrote and directed Kicking and Screaming and The Squid and the Whale--talks about his collaborative process making the new film, and small ideas with big reverberations.

Noah Baumbach makes movies about people. Well, except maybe for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which he cowrote with Wes Anderson and was about a family of foxes and an opossum. But since his first film, Walking and Talking, the 43-year-old Brooklyn native has made movies about people in conversation.

His latest film, out this weekend, is Frances Ha. It’s about a woman who dances in a world where dancing is odd. The low-budget, black-and-white movie has drawn comparisons to Woody Allen’s Manhattan.

Here, Baumbach talks about the tiny ideas that lead to bigger ones, how collaboration is really just one long conversation, and why he pared down to make Frances Ha.


"I tend to start with things that are small," says Baumbach. "I don’t really mean they’re small, because they have big reverberations." For instance, in Frances Ha, the earliest small ideas came out of his desire to work with actress Greta Gerwig, who costarred in his film, Greenberg (and is now his romantic partner). "I wanted to make another movie with her and I wanted to make a movie in New York. And since she was 27, it was going to be about a 27-year-old."

As they began their collaboration, mostly via email since Gerwig was traveling for work, she wrote to him about that debate one goes through when at an ATM: Whether to hit "yes" or "no" prompted about accepting a bank’s fee. "Even though it could almost be, like, a line in a stand-up act," he says, "it’s an observation that said so much about who this [character] could be, and I didn’t know who Frances was yet or anything about what the movie could be." And, in fact, that very debate, that small moment at the ATM, is one of the relatable details that made it into the film, about a young woman on the verge of adulthood, struggling to find who she will become as she endeavors to stay afloat in the city.

Baumbach says that’s typical of how he works. For 2010's Greenberg, with Ben Stiller in the title role, Baumbach first had notions of driving in Los Angeles. "I was thinking about [the character] Greenberg and about Los Angeles and then [those entities] start speaking to each other: What is Greenberg’s relationship to driving in Los Angeles?"

Baumbach continues: "There was something about walking in L.A., a nondriver in Los Angeles. It so spoke to his resistance to the world, he’s not accommodating to everyday life, so to then put him in a car culture and it made that even stronger. . . . That idea generated a lot of other ideas and informed the character." The resulting film is a portrait of a man lost at midlife, at odds with much of the world around him.


"I don’t talk things out so much when I’m working alone, but with Greta, the talking becomes the work," Baumbach explains. "That’s the nice thing about collaborating with someone: Your work becomes a conversation. Ideally, we would have been in the same room a lot, talking at the computer, like the thing that movies do when they try to make writing interesting"--by which he means you see a couple seated at desks that face each other and they high-five a lot. "No, it’s not like that. We were really not in the same place a lot unfortunately. We were emailing back and forth and then after a while we did divvy up scenes."

Because the movie is broken up in chapters, it was easy for them to divide the work: One would focus on the sequence set at Vassar while the other would work on the dinner party scene. "We would then go over them and make a bigger pass. It’s fun to do it that way. It’s like I’m getting new scenes to read and it’s for this movie," he says excitedly. "Sometimes things would conflict and we’d have to make a decision--'That can’t happen here because this is going to happen,' but that’s the fun of it, too."

Since Baumbach and Gerwig are collaborating on two other projects--an animated movie for Dreamworks, about a dog, and another, New York-set feature that they’ve been filming lately--they will, at times, switch gears. "Sometimes we go back and forth because the animated movie is being written over a longer period of time. But whatever’s up next needs to get the main attention. It’s important to make time. When I’m in a mode of writing I am [very disciplined]. I used to get up and write every day even if I wasn’t working on a specific thing. Now, when I have a thing I’m in the middle of, I do that but when I’m not, time can go by when I’m not writing at all."


Even Baumbach needs inspiration in order to begin to sit down and write. "I find a lot of writing happens when you’re not actually at the computer," he says. "So I carry a notebook." Ideas that he gathers in the course of a day he will then use when he’s at his computer as a sort of writing prompt. "Those things help. Bringing them to the computer helps. You have something to input and that can start you off, but often once you bring them to the computer they don’t seem as inspired as they did on the subway the day before, like, 'oh, god, that’s brilliant,' and then I’m like, 'Why was this even a good idea to begin with?' "


For Frances Ha as well as their next movie, Baumbach and Gerwig decided to go as minimalist as possible with the production. "I had a way I wanted to work," he reports, "to strip the film crew down to its barest essentials, knowing I would lose certain things because I wouldn’t have the support I need. I thought [Frances Ha ] was the right movie for it, being small and, to some degree, more private." He likens what he envisioned to records that Paul McCartney made after The Beatles and both before and after Wings, such as Ram. "He played a lot of the instruments and he made [those records] in his basement," Baumbach says, acknowledging that McCartney’s basement is probably unlike yours or mine. "But still, to my mind he was in his basement. And yet the records aren’t small in scope, they’re soaring even."

It’s the soaring that Baumbach was going for, soaring from a small place. "I wanted it to be elegant and beautiful and have this intimacy. I wanted to be able to move faster." So how small? Fifteen people? "Something like that," he says. "I think you could mistake us for a student film." It was a way to shoot in New York while allowing the city to go about its business around them. "For that reason, too, to not call a lot of attention to yourself. It’s like how we shot a lot of the Greenberg stuff. Of course, it’s different when you’re shooting with Ben Stiller--people notice him. But no one walks in L.A., so you’re kind of free to do it. We do the proper channels"--by which he means getting permits and such--"but it’s about keeping it small and quiet."

Baumbach also wanted to shoot over a long period of time. "You can only get a small group to commit to that. I think there’s this kind of crazy thing about traditional filmmaking: There’s all this money, all these people and as soon as you start shooting, you have to make a schedule. That’s the time you have to do it--there’s one day for this and one day for that."

The extended timeframe was an unconventional indulgence. "I felt like, Wouldn’t it be great to shoot a movie until you felt like it’s done, as opposed to when the clock runs out? And wouldn’t it be great, too, if an actor doesn’t feel well that day, which inevitably someone doesn’t--or someone just isn’t on or something isn’t right or I’m not feeling it--that we can say, 'Let’s come back and do this tomorrow’? That’s a great feeling. What ends up happening, of course, is you end up actually doing that very little, but once you have the pressure off, everybody can just kind of get it right the first time." He’s used to making movies under pressure, of course. "The Squid and the Whale I shot in 23 days. I would have loved more time for it at the time, but in some ways that kind of kamikaze way of shooting was right for that movie."

"[This new way of working] allowed me to do many, many takes. There’s a real rigor to how we shot these scenes; they take a while. We’re often shooting a high page count in one take, not many takes of someone picking up a phone. It’s really about trying to get it right, and not obsessively, but trying to get it right in a way where you don’t feel like, 'I don’t think we’re going to do better after that,' as opposed to, 'Okay, we’ll take that.'"


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Reply #36 on: May 18, 2013, 08:04:08 PM
Noah Baumbach Talks His Intensely Charming 'Frances Ha'
via BlackBook

Woody Allen's Manhattan ends with the final line: "You have to have a little faith in people." It's a simple bit of dialogue, but entirely genuine and honest, holding a vast amount of emotional weight in its ease. Picking up where that sentiment left off is Noah Baumbach's new film, the charmingly awkward black-and-white character study Frances Ha, whose leading lady stands out like a beacon of optimism, unwavering in her desire for more from life.

Throughout the last decade, modern meditations on post-collegiate ennui have become commonplace, but it's rare to find a film that takes that tired convention and exposes it in a new light. Frances Ha not only reflects what it means to simply exist at that time in life and in that universe, but shows the beauty in the mistakes made along the way, underscoring the idea that just because something isn't working doesn't mean it's broken. Baumbach has crafted a film that feels refreshing and contemporary yet harkens back to to such European cinematic masters as Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, and Jean-Luc Godard in its casual essence, reminding us of what we love so much about the filmmaking of days past.
Co-written with the film's brilliant and versatile star, Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha is infused with a unique magic that comes from a true meeting of minds. If you look back on Baumbach and Gerwig's early work, it's evident that the two are cut from the same cloth—both sharing an affinity for a particular kind of character's journey, dealing with a sense of malaise as they meander through life, yet filled with a yearning for more. And whereas many of Baumbach's film's tend to err on the side of the misanthropic, Frances Ha is a film that makes you want to go out and engage in life. It's an inspired and intelligent love letter to cinema that never stops moving while we follow the endearingly strange Frances as she dances from life to life.
At its core, Frances Ha is both a journey of self-discovery and a love story between best friends. With Gerwig's frank yet tender touch, we see a realistic look at a fractured female friendship and the mourning that comes from feeling as though you've lost a part of yourself to someone else. "We're like the same person but with different hair," says Frances of her best friend Sophie, who begins to drift apart after getting involved in a serious relationship. We see Frances caught in the wake of their relationship, but her spirited self never diminishes, only dulls for a moment before realizing her ambitions as a modern dancer and choreographer. As we wander with her through her days from Brooklyn to Chinatown to Paris, we begin to admire her boldness and realize that Baumbach cast a spell on us, making us fall in love with his star just as he did behind the camera.
Last week I got the chance to sit down with Baumbach to talk about his desire to showcase Gerwig's talents, the inspiration engrained in the film, and the heroic moments of everyday life.

I've been a big fan of Greta's for a while now. She can be so funny yet dramatic and has such great physicality. Did you know you wanted to make something that would play to all her abilities?
Yeah, that's exactly what I wanted to do. We'd worked together before and I felt that she was all of those things. But I thought we could do something where she could be the center of the movie and showcase all that she could do.
As an admirer of your work, you can see what a similar sensibility you two share as writers as well. What was the initial collaboration process like—was it an easy merging of ideas?
Yeah, the writing came somewhat organically because I first approached her more as an actor. I asked if she'd want to act in something I directed but I wasn't sure what that would be, so I asked her what she was thinking about, or things she thought could be in a movie about a 27-year-old in New York. She has such great ideas and thoughts and observations and was so funny, I felt immediately like this was a movie.
You started by writing emails back and forth?
We'd send the same document back and forth and I would respond and then she would and we'd rewrite. After a while the document started to take shape and we said, okay maybe it opens this way, and then after a while we started writing scenes.
With the love-letter-to-New York essence of the film, the music, and the black-and-white style, it would be easy for people to make a lot of Woody Allen or Manhattan allusions. Were you more influenced by Truffaut and Rohmer and the New Wave cinema that you love?
Yeah, and I always feel inspired by those guys—Truffaut and Rohmer—in all my movies. But somehow in this one the influence is clearer. There's something about this material that it could hold a lot of potentially referential moments without them feeling heavy. There's a moment when Frances is over for the first night with the guys and she's saying goodbye to the girls, the three of them walk back into the room—when we shot it I realized it in the first take—and they're all dressed so anthropologically right for now in New York City–one has a hat, one has a tie and sweeter, one has a dress—but they all look like they're in a Godard movie.
And the way they moved felt so choreographed, it was a magic little moment that everyone noticed and fell in love with.
Well, by take 900, that's what you're seeing in the movie, because I was like, oh we need to keep doing this over and over to get this walk right. And it looks so French but it was not deliberate. It was just engrained, it was in the air, in the style, and I think that was true for a lot of the movie. So in cases where I was aware of a music reference or something that I might be drawing upon, it also felt right for the milieu of the film.
I loved the juxtaposition between Frances' physical and mental state. Mentally she was so stalwart and unable to accept change, but physically she never stopped moving—whether that was literally in her dancing down the street or hopping from apartment to apartment.
We never articulated it but I think it was also baked into it. And the locations being chapters, that discovery informed so much because it said everything you're saying but it also provided us with just a really great structure for the movie. And I think we were aware of all those things but leaving them somewhat unarticulated.
The trip to Paris was one of my favorite moments because it felt entirely authentic. You make this grand gesture to do something out of the ordinary or go somewhere exciting to escape your problems or yourself but these things inevitably stay with you no matter where you go.
That's true, and I always liked the idea that what in another movie would have been the right thing at the right time, like she meets somebody or it would change her life, that it would be the exact opposite of that.
She goes all the way to Paris and is late for Puss in Boots.
We had the Paris idea fairly early. But what made Paris and allowed us to keep it and put it in the film was discerning that Sophie would call her then. Initially it was just a funny idea but we needed to find the story there too. I think that helped land it for us.
With all your films you seem to want to expose the extraordinary details of everyday life in a way that we normally wouldn't perceive them in our own memory—taking the slightest of moments and bringing out the tenderness or absolute sadness. As a director is that a theme you find yourself returning to?
I'm interested in how psychology becomes behavior. Takes Frances. What she accomplishes at the end of the movie, out of context, is relatively minor in that she takes a desk job and she finds an apartment. But in the context of the movie, it's kind of heroic. And, to some degree, it's always trying to find the context for these things, these little movements we make in life. Like the end of Greenberg, where he goes and picks her up at the hospital, this sort of little thing for these characters means a lot. I'm always thinking of those things as cinematic and big and I see no reason why they shouldn't be.
Something I admired about Frances was that she wasn't disillusioned. I feel like that's something rare in the portrayal of women in New York nowadays. Even when things were at their worst she wasn't depressive or bogged down. Rather, she understood that, okay for now this is the shitty situation I'm in, but it'll pass. And because she didn't use that disillusionment as a crutch, she was able to have her heroic ending.
And that was clear to me, that our job as filmmakers was to protect her because she was so open. I wanted to reward her too, because she was making these movements and I thought that the movie should reward her both with the cinema of the movie as we're watching it, but also even in the ending. It always just felt very clear to me that she should get her moment.
Now, this might sound stupid, but there's a Beckett quote that reminded me of the movie—
This sounds smart.
We'll see. He says "That's the mistake I made ... to have wanted a story for myself whereas life alone is enough." And that reminded me of this because it seems by the end Frances learns that she can just live and be and especially in terms of her friendship with Sophie they have this story that they tell each other, and by the end they realize that their friendship can work but real life does get in the way.
I wish I had that Beckett quote handy in a lot of interviews because I'm always stumbling around trying to say that exact thing. That's a really good one. I think that's absolutely true.
How was it, for you, returning to these similarly aged and similarly-minded characters as that of Kicking and Screaming? Now that you've had more time to reflect on that period of your own life, how do you perceive this time different and what did Greta, being someone that age, bring to it?
Well Greta was really my entree into that age group. So I wanted the movie to be about her character. Although I had a different trajectory than Frances, when I was 27 or 28, that was the period—I didn't know it at the time—but I was about to go through great change, sort of professionally but more significantly, emotionally and psychologically. I went through a transition at that time in my life and I think I let go of a lot of ideas I had for myself that I thought would be true, or ideas of how I thought I would be, and it was difficult.  It was heard to let go of those things. But I also think that life and in experience since then, is a return to those moments—you become more ware of them and there are other events that are clearer transitions. But all this is to say that I relate very strongly to that period in time and that age. So I didn't think twice about it or think very consciously about it, it was more oh this is very interesting to me.
Having the star of your film as the co-writer, does that make being on set much easier because Greta knew Frances inside and out?
Yeah, although essentially it's the same. For Greta, in the same way I've always co-written everything I've directed, there's some compartmentalization that goes on when I go to direct my own script. I somehow always have trouble remembering the lines even. I almost have kind unconscious amnesia, while also knowing at the same time that I do know this material so well, but I never take that for granted. There are times when I've taken it for granted and realized, you know even though I wrote this, I need to actually dig deeper as a director and figure this out better. And Greta I think went through something similar, both as a writer and an actor. When she was in it, she was so present as an actor that she could forget lines just the way she could forget lines if she hadn't written them. And she might take time to find a moment as she might anyway, and that was the best way for it to be because that's what you want from an actor—you don't want them too prepared. Or at least, I don't anyway, I don't like when actors have it figured out. I like to figure it out with them.
What really held the film together was this love story between Frances and her best friend. That's rare to see in this sort of woman's self-discovery movie. She has these small romantic possibilities, but they're of no consequence, and when she finally has that magical moment she so desired, it's with Sophie.
We were aware that the normal assumption might be when she has that monologue at the party about wanting this moment with someone, the audience assumption would be that this would be with a guy. So we knew that we were giving it to her and Sophie, and maybe that would be a pleasant surprise. But it really came in the best way, it came very organically out of the character and the age and that time, because that was the central relationship and the central friendship. So it felt like we had to follow that and really tell that story. Also, Frances as a character has these blinders on, and until this thing is worked out with Sophie—which really means until it's worked out for herself—she's not going to accept any other substitutes. That means no other relationships with men and no other friends. But that was just so much of the character, so it was like well, the character's not going to allow a romance, so weren't not gong to force one on her.


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Reply #37 on: May 21, 2013, 02:03:51 PM
Noah Baumbach Dialogue with Scott Foundas from April 5, 2013


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Reply #38 on: July 16, 2013, 01:16:18 PM
Beastie Boys' Adam Horovitz in Talks to Join Ben Stiller in Noah Baumbach Movie (Exclusive)
Source: The Wrap

Adam Horovitz, aka Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, is in discussions to join Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in Noah Baumbach's indie movie "While We're Young," an individual familiar with the New York-set project has told TheWrap.

Horovitz made his acting debut as a troubled Los Angeles youth opposite Donald Sutherland in the 1989 drama "Lost Angels," though he hasn't tackled a substantial movie role in two decades.

Written and directed by Baumbach, "While We're Young" stars Stiller and Watts as a married couple that strikes up an unlikely friendship with a free-spirited younger couple, to be played by Adam Driver ("Girls") and Amanda Seyfried ("Lovelace").

Schedule permitting, Horovitz would play a married friend of Stiller and Watts' characters who just had a baby and can no longer relate to the childless couple or why they feel the need to hang out with twentysomething hipsters.

Scott Rudin and Eli Bush are producing the long-gestating project, which will start production this fall.

After "Lost Angels," Horovitz went on to tackle a supporting role alongside Matt Dillon and Max von Sydow in the 1991 thriller "A Kiss Before Dying," as well as appear in the 1992 road trip movie "Roadside Prophets." He recently played himself in a 2009 episode of "30 Rock" and starred in the Beastie Boys concert documentary "Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That," as well as Spike Jonze's Funny or Die short "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win."
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Reply #39 on: September 19, 2013, 04:28:23 PM
Noah Baumbach Has Been Secretly Directing An Animated Movie Of Berkeley Breathed’s Flawed Dogs
Source: Bleeding Cool

I’ve confirmed that Noah Baumbach, director of Frances Ha, Greenberg and The Squid and the Whale, has been secretly directing an animated movie for Dreamworks. He has some experience with both the form and the studio, having co-scripted Madagascar 3.

This picture is an adaptation of Berkeley Breathed‘s Flawed Dogs, a series of that’s gone from the Piddleton Pound picture book to, more recently, Breathed’s first novel, The Shocking Raid on Westminster.

Baumbach’s screenplay is based largely on this novel, with some plot rewiring, the odd name change and also material around the edges that will be drawn from the earlier picture book.

Visual development on the film has looked into how much of Breathed’s very recognisable, quite wonderful style can be translated to moving CG imagery. I imagine it shouldn’t be too hard for Baumbach to render the film and its cast of off-kilter dogs in a very faithful style, should he ultimately choose to do so.

I think it’s worth noting that we’re still some years away from this film’s release. Looking at Dreamworks’ schedule, they’re booked up until the end of 2016. Their other project from a live action director making first moves into animation will have to wait until then, too, but that’s a story for another time…
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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Reply #40 on: December 08, 2014, 10:23:12 PM
First Look: Noah Baumbach's 'Mistress America' Starring Greta Gerwig, Plot Details Revealed
via The Playlist

You might have forgotten about this, but right after "Frances Ha" hit the festival circuit, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig quickly got to work shooting another movie, that, like their previous collaboration, was done below the radar. Indeed, no plot details were revealed, and neither director nor star gave away too much information about the project. In fact, Baumbach went on and made another movie afterward, "While We're Young," completed it, and debuted it at TIFF in September. Well, now it's time to circle back to the Gerwig project.

Announced today as part of the Sundance Film Festival, we now have a first look at the film—titled "Mistress America"—which stars Gerwig (who also co-wrote the script with Baumbach) and Lola Kirke (the sister of Jemima Kirke from "Girls"), along with a complete plot synopsis. Here you go:

Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, is rescued from her solitude by her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, an adventurous gal about town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes. Mistress America is a comedy about dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing.


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Reply #41 on: December 10, 2014, 06:54:05 AM
I was an extra in this.  Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig were both very nice.   


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Reply #42 on: March 08, 2016, 02:39:32 PM
Noah Baumbach Now Filming Next Movie 'The Meyerowitz Stories' Starring Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman & Emma Thompson
via The Playlist

It looks like Noah Baumbach is back to his secretive ways. The director shot "Frances Ha" and "Mistress America" off the grid, at least as far as Hollywood goes, eschewing formal announcements in the Hollywood trades. And though "While We're Young" followed a more traditional path into production, it looks like Baumbach is back to working on the down-low, as much one can in New York City.

The director has started production on his next feature film, which is using the title "Yen Din Ka Kissa" in production notices on the streets of NYC. The Film Stage reveals that Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson are in the movie that tells the story of an estranged New York family coming together in preparation of artist and patriarch Harold’s career retrospective.

Speaking with USA Today (who refer to the picture as "The Meyerowitz Stories" — and the movie could end up being either or none of these proposed titles), Thompson says she's playing "a dreadful, passive-aggressive alcoholic."


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Reply #43 on: April 10, 2017, 06:52:14 PM
Noah Baumbach’s ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ Is Acquired By Netflix
via The Playlist

Don’t hate the streaming service player, hate the streaming platform game. And it’s a game that’s still a thorn in Hollywood’s side. Leading the charge of streaming disruptors is of course Netflix and they continue to rock the industry and pinch good talent from all kinds of studios, many of whom have strong relationships with indie talent.

The latest filmmaker going the way of Netflix is Noah Baumbach with his latest film, 'Meyerowitz Stories'. Written and directed by Baumbach, Netflix has acquired the global rights to the picture ahead of any potential festival bows.

‘Meyerowitz Stories’ is described as an inter-generational tale of adult siblings contending with the influence of their aging father played by Dustin Hoffman. The rest of the cast includes Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, Grace Van Patten and Emma Thompson.


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Reply #44 on: April 12, 2017, 10:09:34 AM
I'm shocked and disappointed he went the VOD route, and Netflix won't release this in theaters prior like Amazon does

Oh, well, hopefully it plays at fests