Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, New York City’s premier occasion for public debauchery, but if you’d prefer to bamboozle your emotional sensibilities rather than your liver, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is hosting a series entitled Growing Up Baumbach, highlighting three films by the acclaimed filmmaker (and recent Brooklyn Magazine cover subject). Bonus for attending the screening: you’ll be inside, while the lesser among us wander the streets in a drunken haze, occasionally vomiting.
The series will begin with a 4pm showing of Kicking and Screaming, Baumbach’s feature-length debut, which explores the specific unease that accompanies one’s college graduation and subsequent entry into the world of working adulthood. At 6pm, the Lincoln Center will show The Squid and the Whale, a squirm-inducing bildungsroman about the divorce of a Park Slope couple and the impact it has on their two young children. It is Baumbach’s masterpiece, the film that “best encapsulates his signature blend of acidic wit, sardonic tone, and thinly veiled autobiography,” as the Film Society writes. Both it and Kicking and Screaming will screen in 35 mm.
The third film in what the Lincoln Center is calling a “sort-of trilogy” is Baumbach’s latest, While We’re Young, a decidedly more lighthearted comedy of manners about a fortysomething couple (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) whose lives and self-conceptions are upturned when they befriend an uninhibited, parodically-hipster couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried).
The conceptual framework of the would-be trilogy is chronological—this year, Kicking and Screaming is twenty years old, Squid and the Whale is ten, and While We’re Young gets its wide release March 27—and also thematic: all three films explore the upheaval of self that occurs when one’s world is changed by factors beyond one’s control, be it divorce, graduation, or the sudden realization that “you’re not young anymore,” as Baumbach explained it.
Here’s what the Film Society says about the filmmaker:
Baumbach ranks among the funniest and most perceptive filmmakers of our time, a director whose work has always treated the consequences of growing up a member of the creative class with sensitivity, bone-dry humor, and a commitment to honesty at any cost. The release of While We’re Young marks both the 20th anniversary of Kicking and Screaming and the 10th anniversary of The Squid and the Whale, so it seems only right to present these three films (all selections of the New York Film Festival) as a suite.
The screenings at Lincoln Center are the New York stop of a traveling retrospective of Baumbach’s work, which will stop at cities across the U.S. (and include Frances Ha in some screenings). At Lincoln Center, the screenings will be followed by a Q&A with Baumbach himself. Tickets to the entire affair cost $33.
Follow Phillip Pantuso on Twitter @phillippantuso.