Moving Pictures
Mar 19, 2010, 07:33AM

Ben Stiller's Greenberg and the Publicist/Critic debacle

"They Promote, We Write -- and with no further obligation to write positively or negatively. This is basic journalistic independence, if we care to preserve such a thing."

Greenberg, the big-budget mumblecore movie by Noah Baumbach, should enter the language as Woody Allen’s Zelig did—a title that goes beyond ethnic specificity to stand for a particular social disorder: the tendency toward vanity, suppression and censorship. Those meanings attached to the movie from the moment a Greenberg publicist phoned this journalist to disinvite him from the film’s press screening, claiming the disinvitation was at the request of Baumbach, his producer Scott Rudin and executive publicist Leslee Dart. That’s the truth—anything else you’ll likely read in Page Six or elsewhere has been slander. The Indian-giver discourtesy is reflected in the film itself, in which Ben Stiller portrays Roger Greenberg, a self-absorbed L.A. nerd recovering from a nervous breakdown (“I’m doing nothing deliberately”), who inflicts his peremptory ego on everyone around him. This Greenberg jerk is Noah Baumbach’s stock in trade; that he represents an authentic social ilk was proven after news of the disinvitation was made public and Village Voice film critic Jim Hoberman joined the crackdown, exhibiting his own case of Greenberg syndrome. 


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