The shopgirl of the title is Mirabelle (Clare Danes), who has moved from Vermont to Los Angeles to make it as an artist, and whose job entails standing behind the glove counter in Saks, usually undisturbed by customers. She's just as short of company in her free time, until, suddenly, she has two suitors at once. One of these is Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), a slobbish amplifier salesman whose kooky idiosyncrasies would be irritating if you met him in real life, and are fairly irritating on film, too. He soon disappears to go on tour with a rock band, but Mirabelle is occupied by her second suitor, Ray (Steve Martin), a Silicon Valley millionaire who travels by private plane, but who looks sad while he's doing it, so must be a sympathetic character. He gives Mirabelle the self-esteem she needs, and several presents to go with it, but he can't love her the way she loves him.
Their relationship proceeds without much in the way of dialogue or incident, and even less happens in the sketchy subplots, but the film keeps proclaiming how rarefied yet heart-bruising it is by drenching itself in orchestral music, and by piling on the shots of people sitting alone looking sad. Instead of being moved, you're left wondering why Mirabelle can't just attract a nice man of her own age, especially when you consider how speedily she jumps into bed with these two schmucks. Shopgirl tries to construct a love triangle in which one person isn't in love, and one person is barely in the story. That's not a triangle, it's a flat line - which is suitable for a film with no life in it.
A Bittersweet Life (18)
Given how many tricks Hollywood has borrowed from blood-spattered Asian action films, you can't blame this Korean thriller for borrowing some of those tricks back again. A Bittersweet Life's plot could have been written by Quentin Tarantino and then directed in pristine style by Michael Mann. The violence, plentiful as it is, isn't any more important than the gleam on a pair of shoes or the perfection of a chocolate dessert.
Its hero, loosely speaking, is a mob enforcer who kicks the crap out of his enemies without ever rumpling his black suit. Like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, he's entrusted with the job of watching over his absent boss's girlfriend, and like John Travolta he slips up: his elegant charge's cello-playing lights a spark of conscience, so he doesn't report her infidelity to his employer. Some gruesome punishment follows, and soon he's digging himself out of the ground after being buried alive, just as Uma Thurman did in Kill Bill 2. Like her, he goes on a roaring rampage of revenge, and at one point he even takes a cab, as Tom Cruise did in Collateral. Dazzlingly slick and stylish, if not dazzlingly original.
Get Rich or Die Tryin' (15)
Like Eminem in Eight Mile, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson stars in a fictionalised version of his own life story. And quite a story it is, too, what with the murder of his mother, his stint selling crack, the shooting that left him perforated with nine bullet holes, and the launch of his rap career. With all that going on, though, it's curious how little excitement the film generates. Jackson's homies may fête him as the hardest-working crack-dealer in town, but he's so lacking in personality that he might as well be the hardest-working insurance salesman.
Fun with Dick and Jane (12A)
In 1977, Jane Fonda and George Segal starred in Fun with Dick and Jane as a middle-class couple that supplemented its income with a spot of armed robbery. The remake, starring Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni, is given a 21st-century spin: Dick and Jane are ruined by the collapse of the Enron-like mega-corporation Dick works for, and its mega-greedy CEO (Alec Baldwin, who always gets these roles) has some dialogue which echoes George W Bush. Mind you, that's about as far as the satire goes.
With Carrey at his most irrepressibly goonish, the film zips along amusingly as long as Dick and Jane are still doing well. But then, perversely, it concentrates for far too long on the couple's descent into destitution. As if to legitimise their subsequent crimes, we get lots of scenes of Carrey going to interviews, getting menial jobs, and pawning his flat-screen TV.
And when the robbing spree does finally materialise, it's consigned to a few minutes of sight gags. Not terrible, but Some Fun, at Times, with Dick and Jane would be more accurate.Reuse content