Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Surprises at JDIFF.

Just back from the surprise film at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. It proved to be a canny choice this year. Five years ago, the mystery film turned out to be Noah Baumbach’s superb snoot-comedy The Squid and the …

Sun, Feb 28, 2010, 23:53

   

Just back from the surprise film at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. It proved to be a canny choice this year. Five years ago, the mystery film turned out to be Noah Baumbach’s superb snoot-comedy The Squid and the Whale. Baumbach, writer for the New Yorker and other egghead publications, later followed that picture up with the ghastly Margot at the Wedding, featuring Nicole Kidman in more than usually strangleable form.

When the words “A film by Noah Baumbach” appeared on the screen, festival punters could, thus, have been forgiven for feeling somewhat conflicted. Happily, Greenberg turns out to be something of a return to form for Noah.

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Ben Stiller plays a deeply troubled bloke, once a promising rock singer, who seeks to put his brain back together while house-minding in LA for his more bourgeois brother. Loose-limbed, featuring another selection of largely unlikable characters, the picture has all the muddy, perverse appeal of an early film by Bob Rafelson. Welcome back, Noah.