Noah Baumbach's new film Frances Ha is cut from the same cloth as Lena Dunham's Girls. Written with Greta Gerwig, who stars as Frances, shot in black and white, Frances Ha evokes Woody Allen's Manhattan and Francois Truffaut's Paris, key locations for the twenty-something Frances to live her dreams. A moveable feast of guys, apartments, and jobs, Frances Ha freshens up the old tropes: cell phones and the internet play comfortably with the actors' slapstick physicality and sight gags, a throwback to, and nostalgia for early filmmaking. A dancer, Frances runs awkwardly on the street to find a cash machine, falling on her face. Frances Ha's world is almost entirely populated by a humorous and poignant variation of Generation Me characters, including Frances' best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) and young men played by Adam Driver and Michael Zegen.
At Thursday evening's special screening at MoMA, an older guard, Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, Ann Roth, Brian De Palma, David Chase, joined the younger filmmaking crowd, including Ry Russo-Young, Adam Leon, Ben Stiller, Heather Matarazzo. Sting and Trudie Styler, Sumner's mom and dad were proud indeed. After a comment on Sumner's standout performance, and another on stage with Carol Kane in the two-hander, The Lying Lesson, Sting beamed making light, And she's a very nice person too.
In He's Way More Famous Than You, directed by Michael Urie, Halley Feiffer stars as an over-the-top starlet named Halley Feiffer who uses her dubious fame as an actor in Noah Baumbach's 2001 The Squid and the Whale as a calling card. Self-obsessed and alcoholic, the fictional Halley Feiffer wants to make a movie, a parody of Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. Over a latte this week, Feiffer said she was playing with the idea of someone thinking they could be famous for playing a small role in a Baumbach film, just as she was playing with the idea of entitlement for the children of the famous. A skilled comedienne in the manner of Lucille Ball who she watched endlessly as a child with her monologist mom Jenny Allen, Feiffer cast other children of actors, Mamie Gummer and Ben Stiller; in her movie within the movie, she kidnaps him. But her famous father, Pulitzer prize winning playwright and cartoonist Jules Feiffer, is a character played by Austin Pendleton who is "nothing like the real Jules Feiffer." Her dad loves the film, said Feiffer, especially the part where another character says, "Jules Feiffer! I thought he was dead."
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