Length: 1 hr 48 mins
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
BD Resolution: 1080p
BD Video Codec: VC-1 (@ an average 30 mbps)
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 4.0 mbps)
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Film Rating: R (Some Strong Sexuality, Drug Use and Language)
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Starring: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Story by: Jennifer Jason Leigh and Noah Baumbach
Written and Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Film Rating: 2/5
Greenberg is the kind of movie that you start out really wanting to appreciate and enjoy, but it winds up frustrating almost every one of the viewer’s wishes and needs before it finally, mercifully ends. There’s not a lot of story here. After a brief prologue with Florence (Greta Gerwig), a wistful young woman looking for someone meaningful, we are introduced to the title character, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller). Fresh out of the hospital after a nervous breakdown, he is ostensibly trying to put his life back together while house-sitting for his brother’s family. And Florence is his brother’s assistant, which puts the two characters in each other’s orbits. There’s an interesting idea here – the combination of the 40-something Greenberg with the 20-something Florence, and their two intertwining sets of issues. But the movie somehow gets lost behind Greenberg’s aggressively anti-social behavior. Any scene where he seems to be on the verge of learning something about himself or learning something about intimacy turns into an increasingly nasty verbal rant at either Florence or his friend Ivan (Rhys Ifans). If anything, he seems to still be in the same mental and emotional place when his intransigence broke up his band and presumably blew the one shot that his bandmates had to get anywhere with that career. An attempt by him to reconnect with an ex-girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is nearly excruciating to watch, both due to Greenberg’s inability to really see or hear her, and due to her increasing need to get out of the situation. Things spiral downward as Greenberg drives his friends away from him, and somehow finds himself in the middle of a wild drug party being thrown at his brother’s house by a bunch of college age kids. I have to admit the performances by the actors aren’t the problem here, but the movie itself is truly memorable in its unpleasantness. I don’t mean that in terms of crudity, although there are two sexual encounters that I can’t say needed to be shown in this graphic a manner. I mean in terms of feeling like you’re standing in the middle of a really uncomfortable situation that doesn’t get better with time. Just when you think that the movie might at least find an honest ending for its story, as unpleasant as it is, things suddenly aim for a relatively upbeat ending. And it’s not an ending that’s been earned in any way. Just as the 90s film Swingers closed with a gift for the lead character, this film seems to be saying in the end that it’s okay for Greenberg to be this unpleasant toward friends and family because he’s really a good guy at heart, somewhere in there. And that’s not a conclusion I can readily live with.
Greenberg was released on DVD and Blu-ray two weeks ago. The Blu-ray includes high definition picture and sound, and the usual functionality, including pocket BLU, social BLU, BD-Live and the My Scenes bookmarking function. It also includes three very brief featurettes in high definition, all of which could have easily been condensed into a single piece, seeing as how they total just over 7 minutes in length.
VIDEO QUALITY 3 ½ /5
Greenberg is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.35:1 transfer that gets the job done without getting too fancy about it. Flesh tones look accurate, and the film navigates a range of day and night Los Angeles exteriors and interiors in a manner that never looks artificial. I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.
AUDIO QUALITY 3 ½/5
Greenberg is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, which mostly lives in the front channels but includes some surprising moments of directional atmosphere here and there. The music of the film is particularly well-served in the surrounds. DTS mixes in Spanish and French are also included.
SPECIAL FEATURES ½ /5
The Blu-ray presentation of Greenberg comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity, My Scenes functionality, and the social BLU and pocket BLU apps. It also comes with a trio of featurettes that go by so quickly that it is hard to understand why they were broken up in this way.
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Greenberg (1080p, 3:24) – This quick featurette is the only one of the three pieces here to actually be presented in 1080p HD. It’s also the longest of the three, and at under 3 ½ minutes, that should tell you something. Essentially, you have the usual mutual compliments going on here, with no time to get into any depth.
Greenberg Loves Los Angeles (1080i, 2:08) – In two minutes, the viewer is presented with the usual discussion of wanting to film Los Angeles in a different way than we normally see it in the movies.
Noah Baumbach Takes a Novel Approach(1080i, 1:32) – This featurette gets just over 90 seconds to talk about the quirkiness of the characters here, particularly the title man.
BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events.
My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.
pocket BLU– The usual additional Universal Blu-ray functionality is here for those viewers with iPhones and the requisite applications.
Social BLU– Another Universal connectivity function is included here as well.
The film is subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.
IN THE END...
Greenberg is a truly risky endeavor from director Noah Baumbach. It’s an aggressively uncomfortable film about an aggressively anti-social man. Ben Stiller’s performance is interesting to watch, but ultimately even his fans may find this film too uncomfortable to take past a rental.
July 26, 2010.