one of the stronger debuts – Kicking and Screaming is now a Criterion DVD (and no, not the Will Ferrell one) – Noah Baumbach made some more excellent movies that never quite hit the popular consciousness and then faded away for a couple of years. Co-writing The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou with Wes Anderson brought him back, and in 2005 he wrote and directed one of the best movies of the first decade of the 21st century, The Squid and the Whale.

Thankfully Baumbach isn’t taking more time off, and his new movie, Margot at the Wedding, is hitting this fall. There’s a trailer for it online, and while my shitty laptop made the thing play out as a series of quick still images, the humor and emotion still shone through. Baumbach makes movies about troubled smart people, a subject unpopular with not smart people, but that’s their loss. I imagine that if you didn’t like The Squid and the Whale – if you were one of those people who found the rich and real characters in that film unlikable – Margot at the Wedding won’t be for you either, since apparently Nicole Kidman’s character edges into unsympathetic territory. But if you’re the kind of filmgoer who doesn’t need every character to be an unreal paragon, and if you like terrific dialogue, I bet you’ll love this one.

What’s interesting is that, based only on this trailer, Baumbach may have figured out how to harness Jack Black properly. Too often he’s allowed to overwhelm his films, and too often he chooses insipid roles, but here he looks to be playing big, but not bigger than life.

I can’t wait to see this one. Click here for the trailer.

(Jeremy sez: I was writing my own update about this trailer before Devin swooped in and turned my day to complete shit. Ironically, it was my morning constitutional that probably gave Devin the inside track on this story. In any event, my grief is assuaged by the knowledge that Baubach has finally defeated the sophomore slump, ‘cuz this looks a whole helluva lot better than Mr. Jealousy. And if you haven’t seen Kicking and Screaming or The Squid and the Whale (which made my Top Ten of 2005), you need to rectify that; they’re like Wes Anderson movies with flawed human beings in place of snide assholes. They’re also very, very funny. I’m going over here now.)