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Has anyone seen this movie? It premieres tomorrow, but I haven't seen much about it on this board. The reviews coming in on Rotten Tomatoes aren't looking good. I guess this is no real shock, considering Martin hasn't done anything worthwhile since The Jerk (except maybe host the Oscars once). And sweet lord, was Novocaine ever terrible. But I was hoping for something good at least. I really like Schwartzman, but he hasn't really been in anything good since Rushmore. The guy needs a new agent or something.

What happened to Steve Martin? Cheaper by the Dozen 2????!!! Somebody pull the plug!

Edited by finnegan

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Even more interesting though is the fact that this is an adaptation of a novel written by Steve Martin himself.

However much I like Schwartzmann, something about the trailer made me think "I think I liked this movie better when it had Bill Murray and was called Lost in Rushmore."

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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  • 1 month later...

I did not like this film. It is empty and has little to offer the spiritually aware person.

I started my review with:

It is almost painful to watch the empty lives of people who have no spiritual life.  Rather than living lives that are full of purpose and hope motivated by their faith to reach out with love to others, the characters depicted in this film are empty and bored.  Rather than feasting on life they seem content to gather the crumbs. Such is the tale written by Steve Martin and directed by Anand Tucker.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

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I liked it in spite of its faults. My wife really liked it, but she was in dire need of a movie that she could just enjoy and laugh at.

I think it tries to convey a bit of a sense of fantasy - when do you ever see that many stars in the sky in LA? But it never quite reaches that goal, which could help the story be a bit more acceptable.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I did not like this film. It is empty and has little to offer the spiritually aware person.

Denny: now that I've had some time to mull the film and write my review, I think I'll challenge you a bit on this. I think you overstate. It's not that I would want to include this in the Top 100, nor that I think it plumbs spiritual depths to much of a degree, but I do think that it gives us a chance to look at some of our cultures misconceptions about love. Even the isolation of the characters is a spiritual issue. Mriabelle's job at Saks, her apartment with stairs that don't even connect her to her nearest neighbor, Ray sitting in the spacious private jet flying back and forth to empty houses. Isn't this a bit of the alienation that plagues society? The fact that they fail so miserably in their attempt to overcome this through sybaritic lifestyles or

when Mirabelle has sex with Jeremy out of desperation to have someone to hold her afterwards

speak of the bankrupcy of many of societies ways of trying to deal with that alienation.

My review is probably a bit more positive than I really feel about the film. It certainly has its faults. But I don't think your charge of of be spiritually empty is correct.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Darrell,

I read your review and like your insights. I agree that the film shows emptiness, isolation and lack of understanding what love is.

I would also agree that in some ways they all took some steps forward, but it is far too little. I suppose you could argue that it is in the right direction, but even in that I'm not entirely convinced is true. I

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Denny, thanks for the reply. Yes, that all makes sense. My hope for Mirabelle and Jeremy may say more about me than about their situation. So I can see them not so much as settling for crumbs, but discover that what looked like trash is really somewhat valuable. (Sorry, I couldn't find a way to stay with crumb metaphor.)

I think this is another of those films that have a resonnance with Ecclesiastes. Qoheleth spends a great deal of time telling us what doesn't bring happiness.

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Yes, I think the optimism for people is a pastor's personality. When I see people I tend to see them as God is creating them to be, rather than as they are at this given moment on their journey!

Had a wonderful third Sunday of Advent this morning, trust yours was as well!

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Something I really liked in this film (more so than the story, I think) is the visuals. The bizarre stairway to her Silverlake apartment, the blowing rose petals, the Rothko (or Rothclone) painting in Ray's house that is very much like Mirabelle's artwork in progress, even (to a lesser extent) the opening pan through the department store that takes you through cosmetics and up the elevator. To be sure, the visual alone don't redeem the short comings of the film, but they are a nice addition.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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True- and only made me expect more from the film. Perhaps that is part of Steve Martin's intent? - good visuals covering the emptiness of the lives? Beautiful people...staircases that disconnect...beautiful art, stars, jets, houses...

Denny

Edited by Denny Wayman

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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  • 8 years later...

Zadie Smith, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, 2009, pgs. 183-185 -

... Mirabelle is not your average L.A. girl ... She is unassuming, clever, innocent, kind.  She would like to be in love.  Most important, in Shopgirl, she is played by Claire Danes.  Ms. Danes is not your average actress.  She has a graceful, natural body.  She is in possession of a frankly enormous and unexpected nose, which she has never fixed and for which we thank the Lord.  Her elastic face is kind, beautiful and expressive.  Danes is to this movie what Mirabelle is to L.A. - a diamond in the rough.  The rough first manifests itself in the form of her new lover Jeremy (Jason Schartzman), a rock groupie loser whom she met in a launderette.  His dream - which he has fulfilled - is to stencil logos onto amplifiers.  When he can't find a condom he suggests using a plastic bag.  Yet Mirabelle is optimistic about Jeremy, as she is about all things.  "Are you one of those people," she asks, "who, if you get to know them, turns out to be ... fantastic?"  Also, with Schwartzman, familiarity breeds contempt.  He was spectacular in the hipster classic Rushmore, but the emotional autism played for laughs there now reveals itself as a tic of the actor himself: he cannot say a line without mentally enclosing it in quotation marks.  Anyway, the end result is the same: we are meant to despair for lovely Mirabelle, and we do.  Where is her white knight?

 

Nothing can prepare you for what comes next, not even reading the original Steve Martin novel: Ray Porter (Steve Martin himself) walks up to the glove counter and asks Mirabelle for a date.  Steve Martin's face.  I can't explain it.  You have to see it.  But whatever he has done to it, he does not look one day younger than he is.  He has, however, succeeded in leaving himself only one facial expression: smug.  No, that's not fair.  He also looks creepy.  And yet the creepy, intrusive voice-over (also voiced by Martin) assures us: "Mirabelle sizes him up and no alarm bells ring."  Really?  Not even the one that tolls: "He's forty years older than me"?  The voice-over continues: "She doesn't ask the question foremost in her mind: why me?"  Good point.  Why would a successful man like Ray Porter wish to date twenty-four-year-old, exquisite, milky-skinned Mirabelle?  We are at the mercy of a delusional voice-over.

 

... Ray Porter wants an innocent girl with whom to have a short affair.  Mirabelle is vulnerable and depressed, enjoys receiving expensive gifts and is thankful when her student loan is paid off.  Jeremy could do none of these things for her.  So: older rich man helps young poor girl out of a rut (while sleeping with her) and then mercifully ends the relationship so both parties can go on to date someone who is their true "peer" ... In the (very good) novel, Martin's writing is so sparse and elegant you can almost excuse the concept.  But here on film Ray Porter's unmoving, waxy face is on top of hers, he is running his crepe fingers (one place where Botox will not work) over the perfection of Mirabelle's backside - it is intolerable.

 

So we turn to Jeremy as Mirabelle's only escape route, but the script has overwhelmingly stacked the odds against him.  His lines are moronic, his clothes are foul.  He is four or five inches shorter than Mirabelle.  His late redemption (he reads a self-help book called How to Love a Woman and buys a white suit) cannot obscure these facts, and as the inappropriate swirling violins crescendo and Ray graciously allows Mirabelle to leave him for her "peer," too much has already been set against Jeremy.  What is styled as a happy ending looks more like the exchange of a rock for a hard place.  "How do you turn yourself into a person capable of loving another person?" muses the voice-over, as if this were the universal problem.  But it is only Ray's problem.  It is Ray who thinks it appropriate - nay, educational - to use a person for pleasure without giving any piece of yourself apart from your credit card.

 

... In conclusion, here's that bad faith in full: (1) Ray Porter tells Mirabelle he is "past fifty."  The actor who plays him was born on August 14, 1945; (2) Steve Martin's script sneers at the vanity of fake L.A. girls and their plastic surgery; he is in no position to sneer; (3) The line that precipitates Mirabelle and Ray's breakup is this: "I'm looking for a three-bedroom place, in case I want to have a serious relationship, have some kids."  Mirabelle dissolves into tears.  This is meant to reveal that Ray is not serious about her.  The truth is, this film is not serious.  Ray Porter does not want a relationship with a peer.  His real peer would be too old to have a child.  He wants someone young, but not so young as to make him look foolish ...

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