Noah Baumbach Movies
A writer and director who, with two films, established himself as a disciple of the Whit Stillman School of Well-Heeled Post-Modern Post-Collegiate Anxiety, Noah Baumbach emerged as one of the more talented and literate young directors of the 1990s.
The son of Georgia Brown, a film critic for the Village Voice, and Jonathan Baumbach, a novelist and film critic for The Partisan Review, Baumbach began writing and directing at a young age, first earning awards for his work during his senior year at Midwood High School. A native of Brooklyn, NY, he went on to attend Vassar, where he met Carlos Jacott, an actor who would appear in all of the director's films.
Baumbach made his screenwriting and directorial debut in 1995 with Kicking and Screaming. An ensemble comedy starring Eric Stoltz, Olivia D'Abo, and Josh Hamilton, it focused on the growing pains of a group of graduates struggling to make the transition from undergraduate life to the real world. The film garnered a warm critical reception and became something of an art house success, paving the way for Baumbach's next feature, the 1997 Mr. Jealousy. Whereas Kicking and Screaming won over critics with its brand of wry neurotics, Mr. Jealousy earned a merely lukewarm reception, and was cited by a number of critics as being weighed down by a saggy narrative and annoying characters. However, the film's central performers -- Stoltz, Chris Eigeman, and Annabella Sciorra
-- all earned positive notices for their work, which led a number of reviewers to praise Baumbach's facility with actors.
Baumbach followed Mr. Jealousy with Highball (2000), a barely released drama that reunited him with Stoltz, Sciorra, and Eigeman. In 2004, he co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou with Wes Anderson before releasing the semi-autobiographical The Squid and the Whale in 2005. Following two young boys dealing with their parents' impending divorce in 1980s Brooklyn, the film starred Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney as the parents and earned Baumbach an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
His next film, Margot at the Wedding (2007), starred Nicole Kidman as the titular Margot and Baumbach's then-wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh, as her sister who's getting married. Baumbach then teamed back up with Anderson to write 2009's stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox. His next two features, 2010's Greenberg and 2012's Frances Ha, both starred indie darling Greta Gerwig.
In addition to his other projects as a director, he kept busy as a writer, penning a series of short stories for the New Yorker. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi
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Inspired by the advent of Seattle's grunge music sound and popular films such as Slacker (1991) and Singles (1992), the Generation X comedy-drama was born. Typified by characters in their early twenties sharing an abundance of education, a lack of career direction, stunted romantic aspirations and an obsession with popular culture, one of the better examples of the genre was Kicking and Screaming. Josh Hamilton stars as Grover, a recent college graduate and aspiring writer depressed over the departure of his girlfriend Jane (Olivia d'Abo) for a fellowship in Prague. Josh's best friends are in a similar predicament. Skippy (Jason Wiles) is a classic slacker couch potato still attending classes despite having graduated, while the philosophical Max (Chris Eigeman) and Otis (Carlos Jacott), a mechanical engineer, both remain unemployed. Tenth-year student Chet (Eric Stoltz), who works at a local bar and has still not finished his education, serves as a cautionary tale for the four unmotivated pals. Kicking and Screaming was the debut of writer and director Noah Baumbach and the first of several cinematic collaborations between him and actors Eigeman and Stoltz. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
- Josh Hamilton, Olivia D'Abo, (more)
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In this dark comedy, former broadcast journalist and current substitute teacher Lester Grimm (Eric Stoltz) is not especially good at displaying a healthy trust in his relationships. Ever since the age of 15, when Lester's first girlfriend ditched him for a 24-year-old, Lester has displayed an overpowering jealousy toward the women in his life -- which explains why he's still single. When Lester meets Ramona Ray (Annabella Sciorra), he's determined that this time he'll keep his emotions in check, until he learns that she has a rather checkered sexual history -- and her most recent boyfriend was a best-selling novelist, Dashiell Frank (Christopher Eigeman). Desperate to know if they still have feelings for each other, Lester starts crashing Dashiell's group therapy sessions in hopes of getting an inside scoop on what he has to say about his ex. Mr. Jealousy was written and directed by Noah Baumbach; it was his first film after his acclaimed independent debut Kicking and Screaming. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
- Eric Stoltz, Annabella Sciorra, (more)
Over the course of one year, a group of friends gathers for three parties (a birthday dinner party, a Halloween costume party, and a New Year's celebration) at the Brooklyn apartment of a young married couple (Chris Reed, Lauren Katz). Friendships and relationships are formed, dissolved, and re-formed amidst witty banter.
~ Keith Phipps, Rovi
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The first effort from director Wes Anderson since his critically beloved The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou finds the filmmaker re-teaming with a number of familiar faces, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, and Seymour Cassel. Murray plays Steve Zissou, an eccentric and renowned oceanographer who has decided to seek out and enact mortal revenge on a shark that ate one of the men on his team. Along for the ride is Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a young man who has joined Zissou's crew after showing up claiming to be the seaman's long-lost son and Zissou's co-producer (and estranged wife), Eleanor Angelica Huston. As the expedition ensues, the two bond and Plimpton falls for a female journalist (Cate Blanchett) who is writing a piece on Zissou. The crew meets a host of obstacles on their journey, including pirates, kidnapping, and bankruptcy. Adding a flair of whimsy to the film's aesthetic, the sea creatures and underwater scenes in the film have been created using stop-motion animation under the direction of Henry Selick, the man behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. The ensemble cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, and Bud Cort. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi
- Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, (more)
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Two boys learn the hard way about how a marriage falls apart in this independent comedy drama. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a novelist whose career has gone into a slow decline as he spends more time teaching and less time writing. His wife, Joan (Laura Linney), meanwhile, has recently begun publishing her own work to widespread acclaim, which only increases the growing tension between them. One day, Bernard and Joan's two sons -- 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and 12-year-old Frank (Owen Kline) -- are told that their parents are separating, with Bernard renting a house on the other side of their Park Slope, Brooklyn, neighborhood. As the parents set up a schedule for spending time with their children, Walt and Jesse can hardly imagine that things could get more combative between their folks, but they do, as Joan begins dating Ivan (William Baldwin), Frank's tennis instructor, and Bernard starts sharing the house with Lili (Anna Paquin), one of his students. Meanwhile, the two boys begin taking sides in the battle between their parents, with Walt taking after his father and Frank siding with his mom. Based on writer/director Noah Baumbach's own childhood experiences with his parents' divorce, The Squid and the Whale won prizes for writing and direction at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
- Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, (more)
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Margot at the Wedding, writer/director Noah Baumbach's follow-up to his Oscar-nominated The Squid and the Whale, stars Nicole Kidman as Margot, a woman who travels with her son to the wedding of her sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The relationship between the two siblings has never been harmonious, a situation that is exacerbated when Margot discovers she cares very little for her sister's fiancé (Jack Black). Soon the high-strung Margot escalates a feud between her sister and the neighbors, and family secrets come to light, forcing everyone to rethink their various feelings toward each other. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi
- Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, (more)
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A wily fox uses his formidable cunning to outsmart three feeble-minded farmers, who resort to extreme tactics to protect their chickens in director Wes Anderson's animated adaptation of the popular Roald Dahl children's book. For 12 years, Mr. and Mrs. Fox (voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep) have lived a peaceful life in the wilderness with their son, Ash (voice of Jason Schwartzman). Shortly after their young nephew Kristofferson (voice of Eric Anderson) arrives for a visit, Mr. Fox's long-suppressed animal instincts begin to take over and the faithful family man resorts back to his old ways as a cunning chicken thief, endangering not only his family but the entire animal community as well. When evil farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean force the animals underground in a desperate attempt to capture the audacious Mr. Fox, dwindling food supplies force the frightened animals to band together in one last attempt to fight for the land that is rightfully theirs. Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson provide additional voices. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
- George Clooney, Meryl Streep, (more)
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Independent filmmaker Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs, Nights and Weekends) writes, directs, and produces this intimate marriage drama focusing on the troubled union of an artistic young couple. As temptations both sexual and creative in nature challenge the couple's monogamous relationship, the facade of happiness fades to reveal the hardships of modern marriage. Jess Weixler, Justin Rice, and Jane Adams star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
- Jess Weixler, Justin Rice, (more)
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A fortysomething New Yorker in the throes of a midlife crisis falls for his brother's assistant while house-sitting for his sibling in Los Angeles. Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is single and jobless. He's at a crucial crossroads in life when his successful family-man brother summons him to Los Angeles to housesit for six weeks. Recognizing the opportunity to turn over a new leaf in a new city, Greenberg reaches out to his former bandmate Ivan (Rhys Ifans) and discovers that some old wounds aren't so quick to heal. When Greenberg meets his brother's pretty assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig), a kindred spirit who longs to become a singer, he vows not to become too attached. But the more time Greenberg spends with Florence the more he begins to wonder whether he might have finally made a connection worth keeping. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Brie Larson co-star in a climacteric comedy drama from Oscar-nominated writer/director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
- Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, (more)
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The workers at a posh Central Park condominium plot to steal back their pensions from the thieving Wall Street billionaire who's about to get away with the ultimate white-collar crime in this heist comedy starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. Financial giant Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) has just been placed under house arrest in his luxury New York City penthouse for cleaning out his investors to the tune of two billion dollars. Meanwhile, on the complete opposite end of the financial spectrum, Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) earns a modest living as the manager of The Tower -- the luxurious building where Shaw resides. Upon learning that the building staffers who entrusted Shaw with their retirement funds are about to lose their life savings, and that the thief will likely get off scot-free, Josh convinces a small group of Tower employees and a downtrodden former resident that Shaw has stashed a million-dollar safety net somewhere in his opulent penthouse, and that it's theirs for the taking if they can just slip past security. With dim-witted concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck), under-educated electrical engineer Enrique (Michael Peña), safecracking maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) and downtrodden former resident Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) to back him, Josh recruits crafty swindler Slide (Eddie Murphy) to help get their money back. Although the security in Arthur's condo is unusually tight, between Josh's knowledge of the building and Slide's sleight of hand, this ragtag gang of thieves just might have what it takes to get the job done. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
- Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, (more)
Directed by Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha stars Greta Gerwig as Frances, a twentysomething Brooklynite barely making a living as an apprentice with a dance company. Her greatest happiness is the friendship she shares with Sophie (Mickey Sumner), but when Sophie moves away, Frances goes on a downward spiral that includes unemployment, failing to find the right guy, and moving into a series of smaller and smaller apartments. Co-written by Baumbach and Gerwig, Frances Ha screened at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi