A midweek Ticket Stub:

* Shopgirl -- Claire Danes, thy name is woman. This moody little film exposes her, literally and figuratively, as a marvel of expressiveness with more than just adolescent appeal. She plays Mirabelle, the titular sales associate, as equal parts dewy and wary, a cautiously blooming thing. She's lost in the alien universe of L.A., until she meets two men, both disastrously unsuited for her...or are they? First is Jason Schwartzman as Jeremy, a grubby goofball slacker she reluctantly booty calls. Then there's Steve Martin (I won't pretend he's playing a character here since he a) wrote the book the movie's based on and b) provides the voiceover narration, big mistake), a wealthy middle-aged loner who charms her a bit and treats her to the good life, no strings attached. But Mirabelle, like most women, would like to be strung, and as she works out her conflicted desires we see her grow and change in the most subtle ways. Danes manages to age a little from the first frame to the last, especially compared to the men around her who are still trying to grow up. I predict an Oscar tussle between Claire and Gwyneth (who in another life could have had this role) this year. Points off for the overheated score and some clunky establishing shots (The Space Needle...could we be in...Seattle??). But the clothes are great, an appropriately Hepburnish touch. (B+)

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