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Noah Baumbach with Greta Gerwig at Telluride 2017.

Mumblecore No More, Greta Gerwig’s Debut Directing Film LADY BIRD Is Picture Perfect

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Raise your hand if you think Soairse Ronan should have won Best Actress for BROOKLYN. Anyone?  Yes, it’s an exercise in futility since Ronan was only a nominee in 2016. Lucky for her, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut LADY BIRD, from A24 films and just shown at the Telluride Film Festival, is where Soairse gets redeemed.

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Or, you could say given a second chance to make a first impression as an emerging woman trapped inside the body of a high school girl. LADY BIRD looks to be the Oscar moon shot for both lead and director, plus a likely script nomination since Gerwig wrote the film based on (but not verbatim) her own life history.

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Growing up in Sacramento, Geriwg ended up at Barnard College and into acting. A kind of low-budget, not even indie acting turn with some non-actors, also known as genre “Mumblecore”  in the trade. Yet, she’s been Mumblecore-no-more for quite some time.
This movie, with its piercing portrait of mash-up mother/daughter/friend roles is why Gerwig can now be forgiven for that awful remake of ARTHUR (2011), the Dudley Moore classic, that she and Russell Brand trounced to death in their sequel. Sorry, Hobson, Helen Mirren was the only actor to survive that remake with her dignity intact, and only because she dies in the movie, sneaking out before its cloying crescendo.

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But back to LADY BIRD. What an exciting way to enter the Big Arena — that being the stomping ground of coveted Writer/Director credit holders. LADY BIRD features roles by Lois Smith, the darling mastermind of MINORITY REPORT whose plants snap Tom Cruise in her poisoned garden, and Laurie Metcalf as the Mom. Metcalf has just gotten better and better since her “Roseanne” TV days.
Gerwig, who just turned 34 on Aug.4, will also be known by many people as the star of FRANCES HA, directed by Noah Baumbach. Baumbach is the skilled director of SQUID AND THE WHALE, also a personal favorite film starring ex-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh, MARGOT AT THE WEDDING.
Why mention Baumbach? Because he and Gerwig have been a couple *since* his split from Leigh, which looks to have started with the making of GREENBERG, where Greta had a role.
Short story is, they’ve been a couple since 2011, and Gerwig has definitely blossomed into a director during this time.

Noah Baumbach with Greta Gerwig at Telluride 2017.

Noah Baumbach with Greta Gerwig at Telluride 2017.

LADY BIRD is being billed as a “coming-of-age” story, but it’s really a coming out story for Greta Gerwig, leaving the shadow of Baumbach. Even the language in the script, how the dialogue is structured, sounds like real-life, her real voice.
So watch for this film to make its Oscar run during Award Season coming up. (And don’t feel sorry for Daisy Domergue, she lives on as a huge talent on screen.)

Here’s a Quick Telluride Look Into LADY BIRD from A24

How A24 Describes Their New Film Is Like So…

Greta Gerwig makes her directing debut with a touching mother-daughter tale for the ages.

In Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig reveals herself to be a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut, excavating both the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.

Written and Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith

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Find out more here, from A24 (https://a24films.com/) and @LadyBirdMovie. Coming sometime in November, catch LADY BIRD.

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A24 & 20TH CENTURY WOMEN Won’t Keep The Party Polite, So See Their Film

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Okay, so that headline lyric is actually from Frank Sinatra about Luck being a Lady, and frankly that’s just one misconception about women that the movie 20TH CENTURY WOMEN hopes to debunk. That and every notion of gender from conception to girl power to the male gaze to reproduction. AnnetteB17This movie is not a “chick flick,” shall we say, but it is a flick about chicks/women/girls, and every other representation of — stealing from the novelist Raymond Carver here – what we think about when we think about Women. Plus there’s skateboarding in it, a huge nostalgic bonus. Yeah, but what’s the movie about?

Here’s the official rundown: “With 20th Century Women, acclaimed filmmaker Mike Mills (the Academy Award® winner for Beginners) brings us a multilayered, funny, heart-stirring celebration of the complexities of women, family, time, and the connections we search for our whole lives. Set in Santa Barbara, the film follows Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie (newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann, in a breakout performance) at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women in Jamie’s upbringing: Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home; and Julie (Elle Fanning), a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor. 20th Century Women is a poignant love letter to the people who raise us—and the times that form us—as this makeshift family forges fragile connections that will mystify and inspire them through their lives. GretaG17As if this film itself is not enough of a power statement for the cause, A24 has just announced it will make a donation to Planned Parenthood to honor every single person who sees the film this weekend, men and women. Meanwhile, filmmaker Mike Mills has just unveiled a clip of Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, being interviewed about what matters. Besides kicking asses and taking names, to use the ‘parlance of our time,’ Planned Parenthood is still recovering from brand bashing during the election. So, watch the clip below, and remember – you can either plan your parenthood or all hell breaks loose.

Here’s A24’s official word on this featurette:

[Writer/director Mike Mills, and stars Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning, reflect on those who raise us and the times that shape us in latest video ‘Modern Women’, featuring an exclusive interview with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. Planned Parenthood consulted on the film and Planned Parenthood California Central Coast shared information and resources about Planned Parenthood health centers in the ’70s. Planned Parenthood also plays a crucial part in the lives of two of the main characters in the film.]

Of his fierce support of the project, writer/director Mike Mills says, “The people at Planned Parenthood were so helpful to me with the writing and pre-production of 20th Century Women. They connected me with people who worked in PP offices in the ’70s to make sure every aspect of my scenes was correct, from the language counselors used to the very particular decor and dress of the people in those offices, to the overarching philosophy and attitude of the women who worked there. It was very important to me that we capture this moment in women’s reproductive rights accurately and they were so generous and helpful to me.”20C1sht17

Mike Mills’ Golden-Globe® nominated 20TH CENTURY WOMEN opened 12/25/2016, and is showing now in a run up to the Oscar® ceremony, to broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 26. The film stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, and Billy Crudup. Mike Mills is the writer director. Find out how to see it here and A24 has some other awesome projects on their website.

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and plan to reproduce.

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