The World According to “Frances Ha”

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“Frances Ha”

Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Written by: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwick
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver, Grace Gummer,
Mickey Sumner, Patrick Heusinger, Hannah Dunne
 

Noah Baumbach’s latest comedy is about a 27 year old young adult trying to get by in today’s contemporary New York City.

But it’s also about how friends, lovers and acquaintances come and go,  jobs appear and disappear and life moves on. Never in one straight line. You move from apartment to apartment from borough to borough (this is an especially accurate depiction of today’s life in New York City).

It’s fun. It’s fast paced. It’s funny. It’s “Frances Ha”.

The film opens with cut-up moments of a young contemporary dancer named Frances (Gerwig) living in Brooklyn with her friend Sophie (Sumner) who is into the literary publishing business. They smoke on the fire escape, they pretend-fight in the park, they talk, they eat, they sleep together, they love each other, they’re best friends. You could say it’s a sweet and sour portrait of today’s life of young artists in the city but without falling into the romanticism of how New York used to be. To compare it as other critics have to HBO’s “Girls” is falling a little short, instead I think a more fair comparison would be to Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” or “Annie Hall”, in the sense that the comedy rises from the awkwardness of everyday situations and written in a unique and sophisticated way.

bildeWe see the world according to Frances. And although she is neurotic, spontaneous and even a little irritating sometimes we still view the world through her lens. A part from a good screenplay with good naturalistic dialogue and realistic scenarios, it is still the performance of Greta Gerwick that really makes the whole thing come alive. Her eccentricity and character makes her likable enough to understand her irrational yet fascinating decisions like traveling to Paris for just a weekend.

The choice of black and white is more nostalgia than aesthetics. It bares the image to the bone and brings out the dialogue. The whole film seems to have a feel of a collection of moments. The scenes seem to be cut quickly sometimes right in the middle of the conversation. We just get a taste of the situations instead of having long and extended shots. In “Frances Ha” the shots are simple and well framed combining the early style of Jim Jarmusch with a pitch of François Truffaut.

Like most Noah Baumbach films, “Frances Ha” is filled with memorable lines and quotes, one of them is said by Sophie: “The only people who can afford to be artist in New York are rich” when she is looking around France’s new 4,000 dollar apartment whom she shares with two other  “artists”. Another memorable quote is said by Frances when she is asked what is exactly her profession, she answers: “It’s complicated”, then she is asked by the same person: “Is it because what you do is complicated?” she answers: “No, it’s because I don’t do it”. That could actually be a very good description of at least 90% of artist living in this city. It’s complicated because we don’t do it.

It’s a good film. Go see it. It’s playing at the IFC Center in the West Village.

http://www.ifccenter.com/films/frances-ha/

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Food and Film: The Imaginary Conversations

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My father came to visit me in New York last week. Out one night, after a lovely dinner at Freeman’s we discussed where and why we would take our favorite filmmakers to dinner. Our rules were:

  1. They have to be alive.
  2. The dinner should have nothing to do with their nationality or their movies, it should relate to their character and artistic taste.
  3. The intention of this imaginary dinner is to have an in depth conversation about anything you want while enjoying food and/or drinks.
  4. The place must be in New York City.

Here is what I came up with the places I know…

WOODY ALLEN

Chicken salad sandwich at Eisenberg’s near the Flatiron.

Splash

WERNER HERZOG

Beers at some random pub in East Village.

MARTIN SCORSESE

Lunch at Fanelli’s Cafe in SoHo.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/fanellis-cafe-new-york

PEDRO ALMODOVAR

Vegan sushi at Beyond Sushi in Gramecy.

Home

LENA DUNHAM

Brunch at Cafe Colette in Williamsburg.

http://cafe-colette.com/

NOAH BAUMBACH

Dinner at ABC Kitchen in Union Square.

http://www.abckitchennyc.com/

QUENTIN TARANTINO

Cheeseburgers at Five Guys Burger.

http://www.fiveguys.com/

WES ANDERSON

Dinner at Freeman’s in the Lower East Side.

http://freemansrestaurant.com/

JIM JARMUSCH

Pizza at Artichoke pizza.

http://www.artichokepizza.com/

ABBAS KIAROSTAMI

Espresso at La Colombe in TriBeCa.

http://lacolombe.com/

OLIVER STONE

Argentinian food at Empanada Mama in Alphabet City.

http://www.empmamanyc.com/

DAVID LYNCH

Caviar or desert at The Russian Tea Room in Midtown.

http://russiantearoomnyc.com/

WIM WENDERS

Wine at The Lobby Bar in the Ace Hotel in Midtown.

http://www.acehotel.com/newyork

DAVID CRONENBERG

Dim sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown.

So far that’s all I got.

Please feel free to suggest your own imaginary dinner.

Bon appétit!