The Squid and the Whale

Squid and Whale by Noah Baumbach

I am very interested in movies about animals, specially aquatic animals. I went to see Life Aquatic because of this, but then that turned out to be about filmmaking, and even though I enjoyed it thoroughly, I felt a bit let down.

After watching this, I must advise against trusting titles.

This movie would not exist without Woody Allen. Although, the humour here is post-ironic, so much in fact that the intelligence is supicious, the intellectual references abound, the upper east side setting, the literary concerns. Fortunately, it works to good comic effect, specially the ‘Breathless’ reference (have not heard Godard’s name in an American movie in so long), and though it delivers to those concerned only, if you are one of them, you will enjoy a movie being made for you.

The rest of the humour is your typical Sundance hit humour, lots of sex jokes with young kids.

But my real interest in this film is the meta-layers delivered through Jeff Daniels. Daniels plays a character that is part Dumb & Dumber, part Woody Allen, and part fan of Woody Allen. Not only does that make the bridge between us and his character, much shorter, it is a great acting achievement, (or great casting direction).

Music is a character here, mostly soft rock music from the 70’s. That comes from Wes Anderson. The way the music jump-cuts during the opening sequence is perhaps the greatest formal promise I’ve seen at the movies this year. But it does not live up to it throughout. Though you will notice also the way we jump-cut to the ending.

All the stuff about Squid and Whale and metaphor for internal monster is your screenwriting for kids lesson. Not as emotional as you might imagine it to be, if you’ve been watching movies lately, and thinking about them.

Go see this, it is very funny to see Jeff Daniels play Woody Allen, play Belmondo.

Update: Also, a herky-jerky camera, that moves akwardly. Too bad it was for stylistic effect, this was about to be the greatest trick this year.


Categories: Notes

3 replies »

  1. This is a horrible review. Jeff Daniels playing Woody Allen? Does anyone get justice with you pseudo-intellectuals. All I wanted to know about was if the whole movie was shot with a steadicam and I came across this crap. Yikes, Movies affect us on two levels: emotional and intellectual. You have examined the hell out of this one on one level. Can you guess which one? Yikes.

  2. Hello Timmy,

    Unfortunately I purposely avoided to speak on the way the movie affected me emotionally. I regularly do this actually, it is all too subjective and possibly hard to relate to. We are imbued with such varied emotional experiences that writing about a personal emotional affect, is personal. However, read the other reviews, I can get very emotional. And so can you judging from your comment.

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