Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)
|10.20.05||Paramount||This Screening is part of event: Austin Film Festival 2005|
Something's in the air. Is it the smell of desperation? The sweet stink of screenplays passed from hand to hand? The invading aroma of out-of-towners on sojourn to their big break into the movie business? Maybe it's just the horse-drawn carriage that standing next to me. In any case, the 12th Annual Austin Film Festival is officially underway.
Since I'm a movie junkie and not a roundtable/panel fiend, the Heart of Texas Screenwriter's Conference doesn't really appeal to me. Instead, I'm standing in front of the lovely Paramount Theater in downtown Austin, TX with my ID out ready to get in to see Shopgirl.
Starring and written by Steve Martin (based off his novella), Shopgirl is a story about a lonely girl (Claire Danes) going through different relationships, one with a clueless slacker type (Jason Schwartzman) and the other with a wealthy but non-committal rich old dude (Martin). This isn't really a plot-driven movie but more of an emotional exploration as we watch these three characters go about their lives. Wow, I managed to make this movie sound really boring.
Without the spoilers, I'll just say that it was decent, had some definite moments, and was worth watching. Given the subject matter, the film could have been a lot worse but good acting, competent direction, and a really heavy score and aesthetic gives you the feeling that the movie is more than it really is.
Jason Schwartzman is incredible in this. Yes, every scene that he's in feels like a completely different and much funnier movie, but he's really great and plays the character very well. Danes delivers as well but her relationship with Steve Martin seems a bit creepy to me. I couldn't get through this movie without entertaining the thought that Martin wrote the story, adapted it for the screen, produced it and starred in it just so he could get to make out with Claire Danes. Just like believing that the actors get line readings through the phone whenever they're talking on-screen, I have to believe that such a clearly obvious opportunity wasn't taken advantage of. Hey, I'd like to make out with Claire Danes... I'll write a story about how I'm rich and suave and get to dress her up then do dirty things to her. Awesome!
I'm sure Steve Martin is a really nice guy and a complete gentleman, even if he does write in a hand-going-up-dress scene for himself now and then, but it was a problem for me to avoid thinking about his motives while watching. Also, the scenes between him and Danes are so much more dramatic than anything involving Schwartzman that I feel it strayed a bit too far and cut the film in half for me.
I still liked it though. Pretty Good. Afterward, director Anand Tucker, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman came out for a Q&A. It's at this point that you're reading the page thinking "Where are the great pictures of the beautiful Claire Danes, the funny and hairy Jason Schwartzman and the... directory Anand Tucker?" Well, wanting to do the right thing, I asked the proper AFF people about bringing a camera in or even running out after the movie's over to pick it up just for the Q&A, and I got a resounding negative. Of course, there were a good half dozen flashes going off so I'm spiteful enough to wish everyone that snuck a camera in and took awesome pics and got away with it a bad night's sleep and some non-lethal-yet-annoying malady in the near future.
Some interesting notes from the Q&A:
-Tucker tried to base the tone of the film on old Powell & Pressburger and Douglas Sirk movies. He cited A Matter of Life and Death as one of his favorites and loved how the main characters fall in love in the first five minutes of that film.
-When talking about his character, Jason Schwartzman stated that it "was like invisible ink inside him and Claire was like the lemon juice." Danes blushed a bit at this, looking extremely glamorous and gorgeous in a slinky black backless gown, coat and heels. I tell you, folks. I was third row center, the pictures would have been magnificent.
-When asked about the hardest scene to shoot, both Schwartzman and Danes talked about their final kiss. They are actually close in real life and have been friends for some years. Danes mentioned that they'd had sleep-overs before, quickly following with "not that kind of sleep-over" to which Schwartzman shrugged his shoulders then blew a kiss up to the balcony, drawing massive amounts of laughter.
-As a last note, when you watch the film there's a scene set in a Best Buy where a few characters shop for books on tape. Watch out for copies of My So-Called Life down in the corner, apparently the dastardly doing of "that wiley art department."