Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) CORRECTION!

Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is disturbing in a not necessarily enlightening way. It recalls the famous dinner scene in Lars von Trier's The Celebration (though the revelation is not of incest, but simple indifference), and just about any scene from Chekhov in which characters are full of recriminations about both themselves and others. The problem is, the movie is longwinded and disjointed; Baumbach struggles both for a way of ending and unifying his three all too familiar sounding New York tales. Rather than "new and selected," the soubriquet might have been "been there, done that." Yet it has it moments, Dustin Hoffman plays the role of the impervious patriarch, Harold Meyerowitz, a sculptor who taught at Bard for many years, but never made it. L.J. Shapiro (Judd Hirsch) is the rival who Harold demeans and sucks up to at the same time. The movie is loaded with anachronisms, citations about the New York art world (like the mention of a show at the Paul Cooper gallery in the late 60’s) which are as old school as the casting which besides an underwhelming performance by Hoffman includes Emma Thompson, Sigourney Weaver and Candice Bergen (remember her?) playing one of Harold’s former wives. Harold’s real rivalry is with his children. Matthew (Ben Stiller), an investment banker is successful but Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) and Danny (Adam Sandler) are both aimless victims of their father’s voracious appetite for attention. Sandler is the one real standout. If you're used to him as a comic provocateur, it’s worth seeing The Meyerowitz Stories just to see the actor playing a character with real emotional depth. In one interchange Harold breaks a pool cue right after Danny describes how as a kid he saved up to purchase it as a birthday present for the father he looked up to. The timing is perfect; it’s both hugely hysterical and painfully ugly at the same time. Bad hips (Danny hobbles) and narcissistic fathers are, incidentally, leitmotifs throughout the movie. At one point L.J.'s daughter, Loretta (Rebecca Miller) globalizes about a generation of parents thusly, “Parents shouldn’t be friends with their kids.” It’s cruelly ironic since parents like Danny who spend their lives seeking the love and attention of their children are the ones who never got it from their own parents in the first place.

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