Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Monday, September 12, 2005
The girl behind Shopgirl
San Francisco Chronicle
AT THE TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL
Martin's mystery girl makes it to big screen
Monday, September 12, 2005
Toronto -- As Steve Martin knows, artists often get inspiration from their lovers. A Picasso collector, he did the audiotape for the Museum of Modern Art in New York show of Picasso's paintings of his female companions. A mystery woman in Martin's life inspired "Shopgirl," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival Friday night. Martin wrote the screenplay based on his novella and stars as a wealthy and meticulous older man courting a 24-year-old who sells gloves at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.
"This is Steve's personal story -- it's based on his actual relationship," Claire Danes, who plays the title role, told me. Meeting the real shopgirl, Danes said she was struck by how much they resemble each other. "We both have kind of slight frames, and I have dark hair in the movie like hers."
At an elegant dinner party celebrating the premiere, I searched for a Danes look-alike. After all, if you had a movie named for you wouldn't you want to attend the hoopla? But I didn't spot any possibilities, and Martin was conspicuously there by himself.
He and I were having a pleasant enough chat about the movie when I delicately asked who it's based on. "What difference does it make, really?" he replied, tightening up slightly. And he's right. The important thing about "Shopgirl" is that it touches universal emotions -- the very definition of art.
Despite his closeness to the dialogue, Martin insisted he "was not neurotic" about changing lines during the shoot. Mostly he's just happy "Shopgirl" is finally opening after a series of delays he found "very frustrating." The same thing happened to him with the "Pink Panther," which was to be released this fall, but has been pushed to February.
While Martin dressed up as Inspector Clouseau, his "Shopgirl" co-star Jason Schwartzman was got up in his Louis XVI's finery. "I've never worn tights before in a movie," said Schwartzman, who just finished playing the French king in "Marie Antoinette," which is directed by his cousin, Sophia Coppola.
He had another first in "Shopgirl" -- his first nude scene. "I'm not used to taking my clothes off for the camera. But it was smooth sailing once I got out of them."
Men bare it all: Male nudity seems to be a theme of the Toronto festival. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal expose the sides of their butt cheeks making love in "Brokeback Mountain." But the real shocker was the World War II drama "Mrs. Henderson Presents," in which Bob Hoskins has a full frontal nude scene. Hoskins can't claim the producers made him do it -- he's credited as the executive producer.
Minnelli radiates star appeal: There on a big screen was a luminescent and very skinny 27-year-old Liza Minnelli high kicking and hitting all the high notes. Liza-come-latelys who know the entertainer mostly for taking pratfalls on "Arrested Development" or falling for Mr. So Obviously Wrong will understand why fans have stood by her when this vibrant concert -- "Liza With a Z," shot for TV in 1972 -- airs on Showtime next year.
A festival audience watching the show for the first time since it was meticulously restored got Liza in the flesh as well. She made a breathless entrance in a purple sequin pantsuit, a hot pink scarf draped around her neck. Fashion designer Halston covered her in considerably less in "Liza With a Z," directed and choreographed by the inimitable Bob Fosse.
Minnelli recalled that Fosse wouldn't permit NBC censors a viewing until the last minute, and they were outraged that her nipples are visible through one sheer top and her breasts look as if they're about to fall out of another.
"Bob did some very fast talking. One lady from NBC left the building muttering about how 'it's fashion'. "
Her trademark false eyelashes, so long they sweep her brows, are another fashion statement. Minnelli told the audience she used spirit gum to keep them on while sweating buckets in the digitally remastered version, which is coming out on DVD.
As great as it is to watch Minnelli in her prime, the best news is that she's making movies again. She's in "O in Ohio" as a sex therapist who advises Parker Posey on how to achieve her first orgasm.
"And I'm starting work on a musical set in New York," Minnelli said. It's apparently based on her life, so she'll be getting her reality show after all.