Frances Ha - Where to start with Noah Baumbach…
Frances Ha, the offbeat tale of New York dancer who's life is suddenly thrown in turmoil, comes out on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday (January 6). The film is the latest effort from much-loved director Noah Baumbach, a filmmaker who is only rivalled by Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson as a modern-day virtuoso. If you're yet to become hooked on his low-fi, witty approach to film-making, then you're missing out. Here are the five best places to start…
The Squid And The Whale
This is the ultimate gem in Baumbach's back catalogue and the film that catapulted him into mainstream consciousness. A semi-autobiographical piece about two boys in Brooklyn dealing with their parents divorce in the mid-1980s, this is a poignant, darkly comic masterpiece. An essential purchase for any film fan.
Kicking and Screaming
Shot back in 1995, this story about a group of college friends who are struggling to move on with their lives, and has a cast that includes a young Eric Stoltz and Catherine Keener. An early indication of Baumbach's ability to create characters who are difficult and hostile, but also charming and very watchable. It looks a little shonky now, but is still well worth going back to.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Easily the most unlikely film on this list, but Baumbach did indeed co-write the screenplay to this all-star animated family adventure. It’s easily the best of the Madagascar films too.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
While Wes Anderson directed this 2004 flick, Baumbach co-wrote the screenplay with Anderson and is credited with injecting this film with much of its humour. This tender tale about an eccentric oceanographer who sets out to wreak revenge on the shark who ate his partner is all the better for Baumbach's incisive writing.
Margot at the Wedding
This is a wonderfully put-together tragi-com about Margot, a neurotic writer (played superbly by Nicole Kidman) and her adventures with her 11-year old son as they go to intend her sister's wedding. This is both witty and charming, but it's also very intense and, at times, so awkward you have to watch it through your fingers. Completely captivating nonetheless though.