Some of the greatest works of art are created in times of turmoil or reveal introspection, self-reflection, self-questioning and the shifting of identities. Sometimes the most abstract, rebellious and seemingly offensive lifestyles are the ones that eventually lead to breakthroughs, enlightenment and happiness.

One local cinema, The Little Theatre, originated in Rochester in 1928 as part of a proposed chain of small theaters that were geared toward rendering a more intimate, cultural alternative to the contrasting large, commercial movie theaters. Throughout the years, a series of epic, aesthetically gorgeous films that have played there, including ‘No Country for Old Men,” ‘Into the Wild,” ‘The Painted Veil,” ‘Match Point” and ‘The Squid and the Whale.”

This last film, ‘The Squid and the Whale,” is especially representative of teenagers growing up in a conflicting world with continuous and sudden challenges. Both written and directed by Noah Baumbach, the film tells the story of two boys living in Brooklyn and managing the effects of their parents’ recent divorce, along with events concerning friends, girls, puberty and growing sexual curiosity.

The movie uses strong profanity and graphic scenes, which are essential to the overall message of ‘The Squid and the Whale,” for, without these components, the characters would not be questioning themselves and their surroundings in the same manner.

Jeff Daniels stars as Bernard Berkman, a novelist who once produced grand works but is now having little luck finding additional opportunities. On the contrary, his wife Joan, played by Laura Linney, has recently been published for her works and is spreading rapidly as an emerging writer. The juxtaposition between these two characteristics only acts to heighten any tension the family may already have. After the two decide to get a divorce, their sons Walt and Frank are emotionally torn, as they now have to divide their time between each parent and grow accustomed to brand new lifestyles. It becomes apparent that the family is a bit ‘loony” when Joan starts dating her son’s tennis instructor and Bernard shares his new house with one of his students. Each of the boys essentially ‘chooses” a parent, takes sides and engages in a family battle.

The film won awards for best dramatic direction and screenwriting at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. Baumbach also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Three Golden Globe nominations and six Independent Spirit Awards were granted to ‘The Squid and the Whale.” The New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review voted the film’s screenplay as the year’s best. So please go and watch this film! Indulge. Ask, reflect, answer, laugh, cry, scream and everything in between. Be daring and be spontaneous and make mistakes. Find yourself.

Miller is a member of the class of 2011.



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