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Friday, Mar 19, 2010
by PopMatters Staff
by Jessica Winter
Slate (18 March 2010)

“Why do we put up with the narcissists, misanthropes, and passive-aggressives who populate Noah Baumbach’s films?... A clever fillip of therapy-speak pops up a couple of times in Greenberg, the new movie by Noah Baumbach: “Hurt people hurt people.” (The first hurt is an adjective, the second a verb.) The phrase could also double as an epigraph for the writer-director’s entire filmography. No American auteur is more attuned to the art of emotional warfare, and none has more intestinal fortitude for placing neurotic, infuriating, occasionally insufferable characters on-screen and daring us to relate to them. While other directors draw from a more palatable menu of character attributes (charm, charisma, chemistry …), Baumbach makes his cinematic home among the narcissists, misanthropes, and passive-aggressives. Which may leave some viewers wondering: If these are the hard cases whom we give a wide berth in real life, why would we want to spend two hours with them in the close quarters of a movie theater?”


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