Noah Baumbach: Independent Film’s Dramedy Mastro
Born to film critic/novelist Jonathan Baumbach and Georgia Brown who was Village Voice critic, Noah Baumbach was born in Brooklyn New York City on 3rd of September 1969 and was the third of four siblings.
After completing his graduation from Brooklyn’s Midwood High School in 1987, Noah Baumbach got his BA in English from Vassar College in the year 1991. Shortly after that, he worked as a messenger at the New Yorker magazine for some time.
Noah Baumbach is quite known for making dramatic comedies or (dramedy). He initiated his writing and direct debut with Kicking and Screaming when he was 26 years of age which was a comedy about four young men who had just graduated from college and were incapable of moving on with their lives. Kicking and Screaming starred Josh Hamilton, Carlos Jacott and Chris Eigeman and was premiered at the New York Film Festival.
Kicking and Screaming had an intensely personal feel to it because there were fewer surface qualities and the hyperactive energy that is portrayed with the engaging jokes which formed the personalities of the characters. Shot in the Occidental College, Baumbach has expertly captured the aimless chatter in the background with sharp particularity. Josh Hamilton has given a memorable performance in the lead role.
In the following year after Kicking and Screaming Baumbach was chosen as one of the “Ten New Faces of 1996” of Newsweek. Noah Baumbach then wrote and directed another film Mr. Jealousy whose plot revolved around a young writer Lester Grimm (Eric Stoltz) who was so much consumed by jealousy about the former boyfriend of his girlfriend that, it made him sneak into group therapy sessions of her ex-boyfriend so he could know about their nature of a relationship.
The plot of the film rightly reflects the title. The attention to the bitterness and insecurity of men in their mid-20s is characteristic for Baumbach and Stoltz really did justice to this role of a pained central character.
By the end it did get heavy to the head it still boasts of a craft perspective and an original idea. Baumbach then co-wrote a New York comedy Highball, under the name Jesse Carter and also directed under the name Ernie Fusco. In 2004, he co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou along with Wes Anderson.
The year 2005 brought The Squid and the Whale from Baumbach which was sort of an autobiographical comedy-drama about his childhood in Brooklyn and the effects of his parents’ divorce on the family in the mid of 1980s and its effects on the family.
The Squid and the Whale happen to be Baumbach’s most conclusive film which was emphatic, funny and sad at the same time without being pessimistic or aimless. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney played the role of parents. The film was not only inspired by Baumbach’s childhood and his parents’ divorce it was also the first script he did not show to his parents.
Drawing from experiences of his own, Noah Baumbach has blended the intellectually arduous father-son dynamics with this modern classic and has done a marvelous job of conveying them in cinematic form. The plot is about a couple who is on the verge of separation. Joan (Linney) prompts her novelist husband (Daniels) to move out when she gets to know about his betrayal and they are working on the details of their divorce.
Told by the perspective of a 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and it’s through him Baumbach shows the union of the successes and failures of the parents and all in between and was able to reveal the impact and role of words and how they can inspire, entertain and hurt in the process of growing up than old.
Concluding on a quite optimistic note that we absorb the useful from our parents and later on after a few embarrassing chances let go of the prominent flaws. Because is acknowledged the very real imperfections of family life, The Squid and the Whale was a big hit as well as a critical success which got Baumbach nomination at the Academy Awards for The Best Original Screenplay. He also won two awards at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
Not only that but it created waves by collecting six nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards, three nominations at Golden Globe and the National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and New York Film Critics Circle voted it the year’s best screenplay.
Another direction and written comedy-drama Margot at the Wedding (2007) by Baumbach starred his wife Jennifer Leigh, Nicole Kidman, Jack Black and John Turturro. Margot (Kidman) is ready to abandon her married life and is planning to live with her lover she realized that he happens to reside in the same area where her estranged sister Pauline, lives and soon is to be married. As sisters, Leigh and Kidman performed greatly and their specific parts were quite hilarious too. Well-executed it may be but it has a deep misery embedded which does not leave an impressive viewership.
Following that, Baumbach helped in direction and writing of short films Clearing the Air and New York Underground which was telecasted on Saturday Night Live. Both of these films were co-produced and co-written by the cast members Bill Hadar and Fred Armisen.
New York Underground presented Hadar as a British rock journalist who is doing a job on the peculiar underground musician Joshua Rainhorne (Armisen) who has performed as Joshua in numerous live events as well.
Cleaning the Air featured Armisen, Hadar and Paul Rudd (guest host for that particular week) who are trying to clear the air over this girl they all had slept with. Both of these aired in the fall of 2008.
In 2009, Noah Baumbach wrote a screenplay for the film version of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox with Wes Anderson who used stop-motion technology for direction.
His film Greenberg released in March 2010 was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival. A finer comedic performance Ben Stiller acts as a loner who had just left for Los Angeles from New York after a traumatic nervous breakdown. Stiller house hits for his brother and often comes across the family dog-walker Florence (Gerwig). Capturing the attention of the viewers throughout the movie, Greenberg accomplishes surprising sentimental resonance.
The film Frances Ha (2012) was included in the Toronto International Film Festival which was penned down by Greta Gerwig. This widely-known comedy signified a major breakthrough for Noah Baumbach on several counts. Beautifully captured in soft black-and-white, Frances Ha presents a sweeping view of the Big Apple which remains to be the best visually stimulating film of Baumbach till now. The director’s narrative of the dwindling spark between Frances (Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) is bitterly real. The writer/actress Gerwig did more than rising to the occasion.
A persistently funny and lovable cinematic creation, Frances is a memorable work of Baumbach like Kicking and Screaming focuses on the seemingly simple idea of the struggle of moving on. Frances Ha observes the human weakness with a tad of gloom but a generous script.
Noah Baumbach has displayed an attraction for writing about the elite of the East Coast. He also penned down an adaptation of the novel Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. He has also co-written the screenplay for Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted of DreamWorks Animation.
Furthermore, Baumbach has worked on HBO’s adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Collections. But the pilot was not completed unfortunately and thus the project was passed on by HBO.
2014 brought While We’re Young both written and directed by Noah Baumbach. This film starred Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver and Naomi Watts. Josh (Stiller) is a 40-year old documentarian who never really lived his life and Cornelia (Watts) is his producer wife and daughter of a renowned filmmaker. Both are content and comfortable and childless. Kind of in a dry relationship, their spark needs to be rekindled and that comes in the form of a young and cool New York couple played by Driver and Seyfried.
While We’re Young captures the discrepancies of a functional marriage via a slightly satirical approach but still, Baumbach has been able to create something quite fresh. This film was released on March 27, 2015, by A24 Films and it went to earn more than all of Baumbach’s previous films in the U.S Box Office.
Mistress America (2015) starring Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke was directed and co-written by Noah Baumbach. And was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Baumbach’s next documentary about the filmmaker Brian De Palma has been co-directed with Jake Paltrow and was premiered at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.
In September of 2013, it was reported secretly, that Baumbach was directed at the DreamWorks Animation. Baumbach is directing an animated film adaptation of the famous book series Berkeley Breathed, Flawed Dogs.
According to March 2016, Baumbach is said to be filming a feature called Yen Din Ka Kissa which stars Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, and Emma Thompson.
In 2019 Noah released Marriage Story on Netflix. The film is about an incisive and compassionate portrait of a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. From Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach and starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta.
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