the magazine of the columbia daily spectator
May 1 2013
Mmm, baby: The very best in food porn
April 27 2013
Alternatives to Butler
April 19 2013
Red Bull and relaxation
April 17 2013
Back to the kitchen: A short journey through sexist pop culture
April 12 2013
Bikinis and big booties, y’all
April 8 2013
Azealia Banks Did What?
April 5 2013
More stories from Columbia’s military veterans
April 3 2013
Sing, O Muse, of some sappy story
April 1 2013
Missed the Cliterary Open Mic? Check out the highlights here
March 29 2013
Sex & Low Beach
With its storyline of a hapless, broke college graduate trying to make it as a modern dancer in Brooklyn despite her gracelessness, its black-and-white cinematography, and its cast of some of mumblecore’s finest, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, featured at the New York Film Festival, sounds too capital-Q Quirky to be real. The script, co-written by real-life paramours Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, presents a candid yet soulful look at the sometimes bumbling years in between youth and adulthood through its titular character, Frances, played with equal parts levity and thoughtfulness by Gerwig. Frances—whose talent seems to be putting her foot in her mouth, not in position—stumbles through life, losing jobs, friends, and boyfriends, but never once losing her verve.
What had the potential to be a vapid paean to romantic poverty in New York’s trendiest borough played out by self-aware hipsters (which would have been great lampoon fodder) is actually an artful and original piece, with an alternately sardonic and poignant script; quaint, stylized direction; and a charming performance by Gerwig that might have bordered on obnoxious if played by another actress (Zooey Deschanel, for instance, would have been overkill).
Ultimately, I left the New York Film Festival screening of Frances Ha wanting to be best friends with Greta Gerwig (henceforth Greta, because I have assumed a certain level of familiarity with her based on feelings that she is my spirit animal). My newfound appreciation for mumblecore’s darling may have been informed by the fact that Greta was just as likable in the question and answer session after the screening as she was in the film. Even her appearance makes her more approachable than many actresses: She’s very beautiful, but also exudes warmth—maybe it’s her unstyled hair, genuinely bashful smile, healthy BMI. A Barnard graduate, she seems intelligent in a way that would translate into great conversation. And, of course, she does come off as kooky, but unassumingly and inoffensively so.
Although she may represent aspects of it, Greta doesn’t seem to subscribe to the hipster subculture to which many reductively assign her. I sincerely hope she continues making films in this vein of quirky-but-bound-to-be-sleeper-hits, despite inevitable criticisms of a lack of dramatic range. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to fantasize about three-hour New York brunches with her and Zoe Kazan, over which we can discuss things like modernist literature and the predicament of actresses in contemporary Hollywood. (Now, time to read up on both of those things.)
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