I could tell very early into the trailer for “Greenberg” that I didn’t want to see it. Later, when the trailer told me it was made by Noah Baumbach, I knew I didn’t want to see it, for aside from the brilliant “The Squid and the Whale,” he is my nemesis (do you have to know someone for them to be your nemesis? More, do they have to know you — as in at the really very least who you are — for them to be your nemesis and not just someone you don’t like?).
When I watched the by-the-numbers making-of-featurette commending the bravery of the film to be about “real people” and have “real moments” and find comedy arising out of “serious situations,” I felt bad for everyone involved. “Greenberg” is a case study on the idea of “nothing” as inspiration and self-congratulating labels (such as “independent” and “acclaimed”) as measurements of worth.
And then we also have the poster and it’s actually pretty good! Much better than that of Baumbach’s previous film as director, “Margot at the Wedding.” A simple thematic joke: Big capacity for thought/feeling/worth with nothing filling it but the singular notion that there are — or should be — many things filling it. I’m not trying to be snarky, I really do think it’s clever and more than that (because if there’s one thing Baumbach can do it’s be clever), it’s effective.
If there had been no preview, if there had been no featurette, if there was only this poster to make me decide to see this movie or not, I say yes I would see it, nemesis or no. That’s not the case, of course, and so instead I say check out the poster, look at it a few moments and chances are you’ve arrived at the overall idea and purpose of the film and now you don’t need to see it. So there’s an interesting paradox: in order for “Greenberg” to have an enticing piece of advertising — which the poster is and since the trailer and featurette are, we can say with confidence and in mutual agreement, not getting the interest-creating/enticement-to-view job done — in order to entice us to see the film, the poster has to bare the film’s lone thematic nugget and thereby makes the seeing of the film unnecessary. Perhaps then some gratitude is in order on my part. It is a perfectly good poster, too. Don’t you think?
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