Going from screenwriting to directing isn’t an easy transition for most. Some writers have found great success behind the camera, while others have buckled under the pressure. It’s a different job with its own set of demands. With Paradise, Academy Award winner Diablo Cody takes her first crack at directing with the story of a young girl named Lamb (Julianne Hough), who visits Las Vegas after a serious plane crash leaves her with burn scars and a desire to explore places outside of her religious community. Whether we’ll see Cody direct again is a real question mark. Instead of proclaiming how amazing her experience was, Cody expressed to us her problems with the job and the way certain critics respond to her flawed female characters. Here’s what she had to say about those critics, writing women and, of course, her take on Gravity:



Frances Ha is new territory for writer-director Noah Baumbach. To briefly pigeonhole him as a filmmaker, he’s not the type of storyteller we expect to show someone joyously running down the street cued to David Bowie’s “Modern Love.” We’d expect to see a character breaking down talking about how much they hate the poppiness of that Bowie song and the people who love it. Roger Greenberg or Bernard Berkman wouldn’t have been a fan of that song or the character at the center of Frances Ha, Frances (Greta Gerwig). She’s Baumbach’s most conventionally likable character yet. She has plenty of financial and career drama, but, even with some of that despair, Baumach’s picture, which he co-wrote with Gerwig, has a happy personality to it. Happiness is not the a feeling generally associated with Baumbach’s directorial work, but he seems comfortable with that new territory. Here’s what the director of Frances Ha, Greenberg, and The Squid and the Whale had to say about Gremlins, his love of Woody Allen, and intimate stories:


Frances Ha NYFF

Frances Ha is a Noah Baumbach film without bitterness. This is perhaps unexpected, given the man’s track record. Greenberg is practically an essay on acerbity, while The Squid and the Whale traffics in plenty of divorce-inspired acrimony. That doesn’t mean that his prior work is somehow one-dimensional or excessively pessimistic, far from it. Rather, it makes his newest feature a surprising deviation into joy, if not necessarily optimism. There’s no doubt that this shift comes courtesy of Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote the script and lights up the screen with her performance. It is a collaboration that blends the artistic sensibilities of Baumbach and Gerwig into a new take on the post-college identity crisis. The lack of belligerence, importantly, is not because the protagonist has nothing about which to be bitter. Frances (Gerwig) is 27 years old, living in Brooklyn, and trying to support herself as an apprentice dancer. Her friends all seem to be doing much better than she is, finding good jobs and nice apartments they can afford. They get progressively more irritating, settling down to married life with Goldman Sachs like irritating bit characters in a Woody Allen party scene. Meanwhile Frances herself is taking step after step in the other direction, losing roommates, jobs and places to live. Yet where Ben Stiller’s Greenberg would just get aggravated and darkly comic, Gerwig has a joie de vivre that refuses to let the film sting.


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The top nominations for this year’s Indie Spirit Awards are no surprise. Winter’s Bone continues its march through the woods to find its father and an Oscar with 7 nominations (which is almost all it was even eligible for). In a close second, The Kids Are All Right finds itself with 5 nominations. If you’re a fan of female directors, this year is celebrating a number of them in the top spots, but it’s also incredibly important to point out that Samuel L. Jackson and Bill Murray are finally up for the same award. The Indepdenent Spirit Awards make a good primer for the films that might make their way into the Academy Award nominee pool. In recent tradition, the winner of the Best Feature prize goes on to be an Oscar contender (and occasional winner). Examples of that include Precious, The Wrestler, Juno, and Brokeback Mountain. The full list of nominees continues below:



Last week saw one of my most prolific entries of This Week in Blu-ray, clocking in at over 3,000 words. Part of it was that there were a ton of quality releases to talk about, and the rest had something to do with me being several weeks behind. As promised, we’re back on the punctuality bus this week, speeding down the road to informationville. All poor analogies aside, I’m happy to report that this week’s column is on time. That said, I’m sad to report that there’s nothing great to report. This week’s release slate is a relative bust . Though I will try my best to find something interesting to talk about.



The recent cinema of Wes Anderson and his occasional creative collaborator Noah Baumbach have encountered an interesting play with the ever-blurry line that retains an audience’s empathy for an unlikeable protagonist. This week, the Culture Warrior puts those protagonists in focus.



This week, chubby man about town Kevin Carr takes a look at How to Train Your Dragon, Hot Tub Time Machine (which sounds right up his alley) and Greenberg. You may want to wear a helmet.



Focus Features has released the first trailer for director Noah Baumbach’s upcoming film Greenberg, which stars Ben Stiller as a jobless guy who doesn’t really want to do anything with himself.



In all honesty, I’m not that familiar with the work of 19-year old actress Brie Larson. But after researching this story this afternoon, she has now piqued my interest.

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published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.23.2015

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