Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
I wouldn’t have this cover as a poster. It’s fine, functional, not too obnoxious, but a little blah. The menu comes with zero imagination. As a packaged deal it’s got about as much visual personality as a bowl of guacamole.
- Behind the scenes – It’s not much of a behind the scenes, more of a promotional commerical type thing. There are a couple moments with the director and with Stiller, but it’s more flash over substance.
- Greenberg Loves Los Angeles – This is a brief look at how the director wanted to show LA as a prominent part of the movie, not the glitzy glamorous Hollywood, but just the lived in look.
- A Novel Approach – How to tell a story
The Movie: 8/10
Ben Stiller does a fine job of playing a 40 year old man reassessing his life after having a nervous breakdown. I’m not sure this is much of a stretch in the acting neighborhood, but the final result is a good one. I’m not a hard core fan of him, even though he’s one of those mega-famous folks in my age group who I have been looking at my whole adult life. In Greenberg he’s not whacky or goofy, just unstable, bitchy, hateful, insecure, and unable to let go of his past. That past doesn’t seem like it was very good, so it’s hard to understand why he wants to keep dredging it all up, except that you get a very strong vibe this guy is just a misery guts.
Through his stint as house/dog sitter for his brother in LA he meets the brother’s assistant. She’s 25 years old and seems to be as lost in her life as he is in his. Gerwig is charming and sweet but real to the point of making me get lost in her character. Some of the looks she gives Stiller, or just expressions in general are engaging, understandable, and honest (in that acting kind of way). That semi-lost mid-20’s gal with a messy apartment, strings of sexual encounters, and a very loving heart is so believable she becomes the foundation for the whole movie.
Stiller’s character is a jerk, that’s for sure. He’s hateful to anyone who comes around, even old friends, new love interests, anyone there for the verbal abuse, he’s dishing it out. The thing is, he’s oblivious to just how sharp his tongue can be, then again, I get the feeling he is weighted down by it all. All that misery is hard to carry the older you get. He has dropped out of the whole rat race of life, just to do nothing for a while. He’s a carpenter so he has a trade to fall back on when his head gets straight, but in the meantime he finds some love for and from his brother’s dog, the assistant, even an old friend who has lots of reasons NOT to bring the fondness back into his life.
I like a movie that makes me think about what I’m doing with my life. I like movies that dig a little deeper than just surface laughs, explosions, or romantic hoo-haa. Greenberg puts the question out there, “What are you doing with your life, and why?” which is a fair question when you are like me. I don’t have kids. I don’t plan my life around my retirement. I dwell a bit in the past, but have hit that time when the here and now feels better than the martyrdom of a sorrowful past. I like this movie for all that.
OH, Rhys Ifans is so sexy….and he gives one of the best performances I have ever seen him give. He steals the scenes he’s in for sure. There is a clever subtlety to his reactions, expressions, body language and how he works with Stiller that brings a credibility to their relationship. The cast really does make this movie what it is. The writing is quality, the dialog is believable, and the look all come together to accent the people who make up Greenberg’s little, very little, world.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Greenberg has an almost 70’s style of cinematography that really comes across well in HD. Baumbach’s style is often very real looking then switches to an ethereal looking shot, both of these styles are represented well here. Some may argue the level of black is off in this movie but it’s obvious to me they were going for a real life look where quite often black is more grey and light coming through windows washes out scenes. Still overall this is a great transfer that is very Film-Like even blown up to 104 inches on our projector.
Audio is delivered using the DTS-HD Master Audio standard and like most drama/comedy is mostly front loaded. There are occasions where the rear speakers light up but that is mostly reserved for musical interludes. The soundtrack of the movie is quite awesome scored by James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem. The music gives the movie a pretentious LA kinda vibe see the film and you will know what I mean.
Overall I really enjoyed this story of a man who really does not have his shit worked out yet. Face it most of us have not, I am on the eve of my 41st Birthday and I still have no idea what is going on in this crazy place we call Earth. I highly recommend Greenberg it’s not for everyone but the ones who do get it will love it.
I like the movie. It’s good solid entertainment. I don’t feel the need to own it though. I say rent it for a calm Friday night movie-in at home. The extras are minimal, but that’s no big deal on a movie like this, so 3 or 4 bucks is reasonable for this Stiller offering.
Overall Score 8/10