Monday, May 22, 2006

Dustin & Steve

I rented "Shopgirl" based on the positive reviews both Ebert & Roeper gave it. I should have followed my first instinct and skipped it because I hated it. Steve Martin having sex with Claire Danes is as obscene as I imagined it would be. He's 61 years old; she's 27. And, if I could get past that (which I tried to, using the fast forward button), it still was one of the emptiest stories I've seen in a long time. The characters talk little, just stare off into space in their own homes, thinking. It's nearly impossible to figure out their motivation - except for when the Steve Martin voice (acting as if he's an independent narrator describing the life of his main character, who of course is played by him and has HIS SAME VOICE) jumps in to obnoxiously tell you what you should have been seeing on the screen. Sadly, it's one of those situations where if the film had already told that story, there'd be no need for the voiceover.

Here's an example of the sloppiness of the story: Claire Danes's character Mirabelle is always seen alone, going to and from work, hanging out at home. We get the sense she has no really close friends, which works with the character. At one point a co-worker "befriends" her with ridiculous advice about how to win a man ("Fellatio, and lots of it. Then cut him off.") Clearly this isn't really a friendship, but that's okay, as again, it underscores her isolation. And then.... there is a scene where Steve Martin's character is explaining a conversation he had with Mirabelle to his therapist, giving a clear "he said" version of what was discussed. To contrast this, the scene is intercut with Mirabelle talking to... two girls who seem to be her friends. ?? No, really: ?? They were not seen before this moment and are not seen since. Who are these random girls who she is pouring her heart out to? This same character who we've seen live a very private and solitary life? Oh, wait, they're not really friends, they are plot devices. Silly me.

Yeah, I hated it.

Last weekend I passed Dustin Hoffman in Central Park. He was smiling and chatting on a cell phone. You can't mistake that nose or that mass of thick longish grey hair. I smiled to myself, thinking, here is one of the most famous actors alive today, enjoying Central Park just like I am. And then I started thinking, is he really that recognizable to someone in, say, their 20's? (Except for from "Meet the Fockers"?) Am I really that old?


Today at a doctor's appointment one of the receptionists asked me my birthdate. When I told him, he said, "How old are you?" I told him and he said, "I was just checking because you really don't look like you're over 40." I think he was flirting with me.


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