Monday, March 1, 2010

Ben Stiller's aging face.

I have issues with aging.  The slow degradation of items, objects, landscapes, and most scarily, we as human beings.  At times I find it difficult to purchase new things because I know that even if they look amazing, spotless, untouched within the hard plastic shells of their packaging, as soon as I remove them from their consumer armor, they'll be dinged, dirty, already on the long (or short) road to decomposition. 

I saw the new film by Noah Baumbach, Greenberg, last week and, regardless of my glowing anxious love for the film, was shocked by Ben Stiller's appearance.  It isn't that he looks different, or deformed, rather, he looks more like Ben Stiller.  There's the famous Michelangelo saying about he wasn't trying to carve anything out of rock, but rather trying to remove the bits and pieces of that were surrounding what was already there.  That's what Stiller's face in Greenberg reminded me of, as if the years of life he's lived have slowly peeled away the parts that weren't him, revealing this perfect representation of Ben Stiller.

Of course this could be a trick of the camera, an intentional move by Baumbach and company.  Stiller's character in the film is an anxious mess, the sort of outwardly-blaming headcase that life drags at.  He writes letters to big corporations, lashes out at those who thinks who are wrong - he's pretty much that kind of asshole.  Thus, the newly taut lines of Stiller's face might have been played up to point out that life has hardened this man.

But I think not.  I think Stiller, as he gets older, is becoming all angles, the softness of his face peeling away to the point of caricature.  He's condensing, the pressure of age, contracting his features in to a compounded version of the Stiller we know and love.  I wonder how, with Stiller still blindly attaching himself to ridiculous concept-comedies, his now-more angular face, rife with pained anxiety, will play.  Is he going to be forced in to an era of seriousness due to his ever-sharpening visage? 

If his performance in Greenberg has anything to say of it, I certainly hope so.

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