Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Movie Name: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Elizabeth Marvel, Rebecca Miller, Judd Hirsch, Adam Driver, Grace Van Patten, Candice Bergen, David Cromer, Sakina Jaffrey
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
View Trailer

Director Noah Baumbach is back, following his latest two features, which found him reaching much bigger audiences that some of his previous efforts ("While We're Young" and "Mistress America" to be more specific). "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)", premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, even though it's a film produced by streaming giant Netflix. The film follows the tribulations of a New York family, namely the patriarch Harold, a retired teacher and sculptor, his current wife Maureen, and his offspring, Danny, Matthew and Jean. Danny who is going through a separation, comes to New York with his daughter who's about to go to college to study film. Danny is having to stay with his father, while his divorce gets settled. Harold in the meantime, is trying to get a retrospective on his work, while simultaneously considering moving out of the city, since the cost of living in New York has pushed them out. All these events come to a halt, when Harold ends up in the Hospital due to a small accident he had. This forces Matthew, the youngest son, to fly from Los Angeles to also provide some assistance, while he himself is going through some personal issues.
Noah Baumbach's films, much like Woody Allen's, are deeply rooted on familiar topics for him, namely a certain intellectual milieu that exists and thrives in New York. In this arena of culture and artists, and to a certain extent, privilege, exists these dysfunctional relationships of parents and children, things that are never quite well resolved, due to personal ambitions or withheld affections, all this emotional tension that seems to slow cook but never really boils. In the case of "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)", these relationships are more pronounced, as the patriarch is dealing with the effects of old age, health complications, and yet also wanting to achieve a level of recognition that never really happened during his younger years. This is obviously a film that rehashes a lot of dynamics that have been seen before, but what salvages this feature, is the fantastic cast that is assembled. Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel, make for a very compelling cast, and bring to life the challenges that characters have of adjusting to deflated egos, sibling rivalry and even emotional baggage that is carried around for a lifetime. Even if the material isn't the freshest, there is enough gusto in the performances to make the film enjoyable. Worth watching.