i watched a couple of movies this weekend that had nothing to do with the (lack of) oscar hype. both of them, though, each had their own version of hype going on…sometimes the reviews work out, sometimes not so much.
first up was ‘shopgirl‘, steve martin’s small intimate little flick from a couple of years ago. the reviews were pretty roundly bad, but apparently, someone’s comment somewhere made me add that on in to the netflix queue recently. the story concerns a young twenty-something girl struggling to hack through student loans and into the l.a. art world while biding her time as a clerk in a big department store. she goes on a bad date with a creepy impoverished weirdo, and has a hilariously uncomfortably familiar “are you fucking kidding me” moment vis a vis condoms with this guy. out of the blue, she’s asked out by a mid-50s wealthy businessman who once saw her at work. a sometimes funny, sometimes sad snapshot of hope and miscommunication and all the other concepts that make up relationship movies ensues, which makes it sound cliched, but isn’t at all. two of the key things critics complained on were in fact rather true: the may-december romance thing is a bit creepy (i think it’s rather intentional, though), and for an impoverished department store wage slave, claire danes has a suspiciously nice wardrobe. the reviewer on imdb compares this one to ‘lost in translation’, which i can agree with as far as the focused intimate tone, the age differences and character drive, and the dialogue rather than plot push to the story, but those things amounted to ‘lost’ being a big boring aimless mess, while this one is just amazing.
on the flipside, ‘brick‘ absolutely lived up to its indie-cred hype; the raves over the smart story and lightning-quick dialogue are dead accurate. this movie is a dark, twisty film noir, with lines ripped right out of dashiell hammett and sam spade and every other iconic 40s/50s flavor p.i… except this happens to take place in a high school. i’m going to forgo any big review here, because it’s one of those movies that you should know as little as possible about (really, isn’t that true of pretty much all thrillers & whodunnit sorts of things?), but definitely go pick it up.