Marriage Story Busts into My Top Three of the Year, Easily!

As if my birthday wasn’t fun enough in NYC with my beautiful son Liam, yesterday thanks to my-friend-who-treats-me-like-gold Jack Guren, I was privileged enough to see a screener of Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s take on the gut wrenching process of divorce.

You’d think the way our jaded culture (and myself in colder moments) throws the D-word around like it was simply dust we sweep under the rug that Marriage Story would be a so what story. HOWEVER, anyone who’s gone through the process knows those initial daily disrupting moments are much more than a carpet can hide AND Noah B. captures these awkward and painful moments in true movie magic.

BUT WAIT! There’s more! Not only does he capture the pathos, he articulated this with humor and love. AND THEN he chose the best of the best to portray even the minor characters. The two stars (Scar Jo and Driver) who I’ve adored and then despised, won me over as they escaped into these two human characters. And dare I say, I was convinced by the end that Adam Driver does have more to him than a dead stare, especially after he belts out “Being Alive” at a NYC bar.

Other fantastic performances were executed by: Ray Liotta (GREAT!), Laura Dern who almost always feels to me like she’s overreaching or perhaps is merely a bitch in real life was also great, ALAN ALDA (can I give you a hug-PLEASE nominate this man, I LOVE HIM), and my ever awkward cutie from Baskets, Martha Kelly. Also super were Julie Hagerty and Merritt Weaver….and Merritt is where my heart sank as it did last night, upon coming back to the quiet of my condo, I remembered Noah’s the guy who left Jennifer Jason-Leigh for Greta Gerwig…ok you’re wondering, ‘what’s Merritt got to do with it?’ Merritt was in Greenberg, another fantastic Baumbauch film CO-WRITTEN by Jason-Leigh at which point, Noah fell for Greta and now I’m sad…which, in the end, only adds to the depth of this film.

I’m so glad I got to see this now as the various podcasts I listen to (and yell at for their occasional lack of taste: you LIKED Hustlers AND The Irishman, blech!) were beginning to drip out spoilers on Marriage Story. But not here folks.

I’ll just say after you get through the annoying (yes I was scared) opening 10 minutes of cliche-ish montage (necessary for back story I am aware and pivotal by story’s end), you settle into moment after moment of cinematic genius. Emotion, Laughs and Atmosphere, the stuff of which every great life should accomplish.

I will see this again. FOR SURE.

Ghost World and the Mysteries It Created

The movie Ghost World used to come up in conversation with the last man I dated in New York, who from this day forward will be nicknamed my Saturday Night Boyfriend. My SNB was (actually ‘is’, he’s still alive and well and needed a job recommendation to a water park from me this past spring) a highly intelligent, good looking Jewish man who also had (has) a wickedly dark sense of humor. The way he pitched Ghost World to me as a film rec, though, did not make me want to go get it. His pitch made it sound like Steve Buschemi was semi predatory toward Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch which I didn’t really want to watch.

Cut to this month where I work with a highly intelligent Jewish man with a wickedly dark sense of humor (ringing any bells? Not my SNB but eerily similar) who also suggested Ghost World. Knowing my co-worker’s refined taste in film (Man For All Seasons, his favorite which I have not seen yet) and coming off a couple of great recommendations from him (my personal favorite was The Night of the Iguana), when he suggested Ghost World, I decided to bite.

And I’m so glad I did! Though mysteries abound now, even more than why my SNB doesn’t miss me; like how Thora Birch went from stunning in this film (and previous to that American Beauty) to mediocre obscurity. And the director, Terry Zwigoff, who is so against THE MAN that he hasn’t done anything since Art School Confidential in 2006 (though does have a tv movie coming out this year about a start up marijuana business). Sadness tinges this film in worse ways, Brad Renfro, who plays the girls’ guy pal, died of a drug overdose in 2008.

At any rate, Steve Buschemi is not the predator, in fact the girls are! Poor Buschemi is the prey and a fantastic actor in playing the vulnerable guy who can’t get a date! Illeana Douglass was fabulous as the overly subjective art teacher as is Bob Balaban, as Thora’s non-confrontational dad. Aside on Balaban, I just put a request in on the Golden Globe nominated film Georgia O’Keefe tv film he directed which sounds fascinating!

The only thing I didn’t like about Ghost World was the ending, but I do understand the reason for it. Definitely worth seeing, a unique movie with an interesting soundtrack to boot.