Friday, May 17, 2013

Should You See the <i>Star Trek</i> Sequel?

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Frances Ha Greta Gerwig Noah Baumbach
Frances Ha: The first of this year's two made-while-backs-were-turned low-budget features from an indie auteur, like David Gordon Green's upcoming Prince Avalanche, follows some more high-profile, star-laden efforts. But neither Avalanche nor Frances Ha feel like one-off goofs; in fact, they're both so comfortably within their creators' wheelhouse that they'll probably be tagged as returns to form. But Noah Baumbach isn't revisiting Kicking and Screaming, even if Frances Ha follows it age-wise, picking up in the title character's late 20s. But enough time has lapsed since Kicking and Screaming that the characters from Frances Ha would have been just entering elementary school when it came out, and the new movie picks up in a different world from its predecessor's insulated campus town. Frances is less stalled out than the post-collegiate Kicking buddies, if only because she has actually completed a move to New York (though not Park Slope—"A-list Brooklyn" even back in Baumbach's 1995 movie). But permanent residence—at a job, an apartment, even as someone's best friend—eludes her. This haplessness could quickly go frustrating if Gerwig, who cowrote the script with Baumbach (taking a break, I guess, from his more stinging run that began with his Squid and the Whale comeback), wasn't so winning, or if the black-and-white photography wasn't so gorgeous, or if the writing wasn't so funny and oddly sweet, or if the running time wasn't so perfectly slim. But all of it comes together perfectly, and Frances Ha is one of the best 2013 releases so far. I saw it last fall at the New York Film Festival, loved it, and am looking forward to catching it again this weekend.

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