The Squid and the Whale is a thoughtful examination of adolescence
t invented until the 1940s; before that, young people were children and then adults. Life was comparatively short-lived and there wasn&
t time for a what we now think of as a period of prolonged adolescent angst when &
supported by their parents, take five or six years to contemplate what might be called the four corners of youth: physical and hormonal changes, which occur with a startling suddenness; the intensity of budding sexuality; the shift of loyalties to the peer group; and the ever-changing tensions with family, brought about by a concerted search for independence.
Psychologists have come to refer to this period as a time of sturm und drang, or storm and stress. As well, in our tribe there are few rites of passage that signal to young persons that they are now ready to take their place in adult society (a driver&
s license seems a bit lame). There are no ceremonies, no vision quest, no scarification. Hence, many young people cast about for direction, wish for a compass, long for symbolism, and often find that the significant adults in their lives are so deeply flawed as to be of little help. Or so they are judged.
It is a time that has been memorialized in literature, starting with the iconic novel by J.D. Salinger, &
The Catcher in the Rye.&
Its protagonist, Holden Caufield, was everyadolescent, and his search for authenticity, for himself and his place in the world, a journey that is now regarded as universal. The youthful quest for identity, for a sense of oneself, resonates because it is such familiar ground to all of us.
Add to the mix divorce, wherein a family that once seemed relatively cohesive begins to come apart, and you have a formula for dysfunction.
The Squid and the Whale,&
a small indie film written and directed by Noah Baumach, captures such a moment with perfect pitch for language and emotion. The Berkman family, living in Brooklyn during the 1980s, is clearly coming apart at the seams. The threads that once held them together are failing and so the parents, Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and Joan (Laura Linney), sit their two sons, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and Frank (Owen Kline), down and explain that they are going to separate. The boys are turned into nomads, moving back and forth between what they regard as their home and Bernard&
s house, a ragged, paint-peeling place that is as spare as a monastery. As one of Walt&
s friends says, &
What the film captures so well, due in great part to the fine writing of Baumbach and the fine performances by the ensemble of actors, led by Daniels, is how adolescent feelings of being unexpectedly cast adrift are only compounded by the changes parents go through as they navigate a separation. Sixteen-year-old Walt, who is at the center of the narrative, quickly takes sides: He idolizes and idealizes his father and judges his mother ever more harshly. What he is confronted with are the not only his own foibles, but those of his parents, most especially the stunning narcissism of Bernard, a man who places himself at the center of the universe and is surprised when those around him push back. It is in coming to terms not only with himself but with his family that Walt inches ever so painfully toward maturity.
Some might argue that in adolescence we live more intensely than any other time in our lives. Adolescent memories are often unforgettable, haunting our later years with images that are filtered through a scrim of sentimentality and longing and regret. And so it isn&
t surprising that Hollywood would use repeatedly the template of adolescence as a subject. But few films about young people manage to possess the ring of truth. &
The Squid and the Whale&
is clearly the exception.
Golden Globe Winner Best Drama, Director, Screenplay, Song. The story about a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years. Directed by Ang Lee (&
Crouch Tiger, Hidden Dragon,&
Sense and Sensibility,&
) Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid.
R for sexuality, nudity, language and some violence/134 min.
Squid and the Whale
— Golden Globe nominations including Best Musical or Comedy, Actress (Laura Linney), Actor (Jeff Daniels). Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980's. Written and Directed by Noah Baumbach (writer of &
) Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Owen Kline, Jesse Eisenberg, William Baldwin, Anna Paquin.
R for strong sexual content, graphic dialogue and language/88 min.
2 Golden Globe nominations including Best Director and Screenplay. In the tragic aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics, a Mossad agent and his squad track and assassinate the Palestinian terrorists who planned and carried out the murder of Israeli athletes. Directed by Steven Spielberg; Starring Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ciaran Hinds.
R for strong graphic violence, some sexual content, nudity and language/164 min.
Tristan and Isolde
The medieval legend of a princess and a warrior's love affair that threatens to tear apart an uneasy peace between England and Ireland. Directed by Kevin Reynolds (&
); Starring James Franco, Sophia Myles, Dexter Fletcher, Rufus Sewell.
PG-13 for intense battle sequences and some sexuality/125 min.
Memoirs of a Geisha
Golden Globe Winner Best Score John Williams. A sweeping romantic epic set in a mysterious and exotic world, the story begins in the years before WWII, when a penniless Japanese child is torn from her family to work as a maid in a geisha house. The girl eventually blossoms into a legendary geisha, captivating the most powerful men of her day, but haunted by her secret love for a man who is out of her reach. Directed by Rob Marshall (&
); Starring Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh, Gong Li.
PG-13 for mature subject matter and some sexual content/145 min.
Memory of a Killer
In Flemish and French with English subtitles. A professional killer in the early stages of Alzheimer's knows he is on his last job, and has nothing to lose but his life. But even he draws the line when asked to do a certain job tied to powerful men trying to conceal their connection to child prostitution. Jan Decleir, Koen De Bouw, Werner De Smedt, Hilde De Baerdamaker.
R for violence, sexuality and nuditiy/120 min.
This sequel traces the beginnings of the ancient feud between the aristocratic Death Dealers and the barbaric Lycans, as Selene discovers she has been betrayed by her own kind and seeks her revenge. Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy.
R for pervasive strong violence and gore, some sexuality/nudity and language/106 min.
End of the Spear
Mincayani is born into the most violent society documented by anthropologits, the Waodani of Ecuador. He learns he must spear and live or be speared and die. His world changes when he and his family kill five missionaries. Religious/inspirational film. Louie Leonardo, Chad Allen, Jack Guzman, Christina Souza.
PG-13 for intense sequences of violence/111 min.
Chronicles of Narnia
2 Golden Globe nominations including Best Score and Song.A White Witch has used her dark powers to keep Narnia in winter, but it is foretold that four humans will be able to help break the spell. When four siblings&
150;Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter&
150;enter the enchanted world through a wardrobe, the stage is set for a classic battle of epic proportions. Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Skandar Keynes.
PG for for battle sequences and frightening moments/140 min.
A hip, updated re-telling of &
Little Red Riding Hood,&
from the participants' various accounts. Voice talents of Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, James Belushi.
PG for mild language and thematic elements/83 min.
2 Golden Globe nominations including Best Director and Score. An expedition searches for a mythic monster on a far away island, and a playwright becomes an unlikely hero in the classic romantic adventure story. Directed by Peter Jackson (&
Lord of the Rings&
trilogy); Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Colin Hanks.
PG-13 for frightening adventure violence and some disturbing images/187 min.
A shy cookware clerk learns she is dying, and embarks on a dream vacation to Europe where she and her uninhibited attitude have a profound and humorous effect on the hotel guests and staff. Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Gerard Depardieu, Alicia Witt, Giancarlo Esposito.
PG-13 for some sexual references/111 min.
The inspiring true story of the underdog Texas Western basketball team, with history's first all African American starting lineup and the passionate coach who led them to the 1966 NCAA tournament title. Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Jon Voight.
PG for racial issues, including violence and epithets, and momentary language/118 min.