Toronto Film Fest: ?Flightplan? with Jodie Foster and ?Shopgirl? with Steve Martin

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Today, we cover two films at the Toronto International Film Festival in which the central characters are women. Jodie Foster follows her 2002 mother-daughter, claustrophobic thriller "Panic Room" with another -- "Flightplan." Steve Martin returns to independent filmmaking with "Shopgirl" co-starring Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman.

(Jodie Foster, Sean Bean, Peter Sarsgaard, Erika Christensen)
"Red Eye" is a good movie set mostly in a plane; Flightplan is even better, mostly due to Jodie Foster's performance as a strong-willed and determined mother who loses her daughter in a plane mid-flight. This is a taut, tense and suspenseful psychological thriller. It keeps you guessing until the very end as to whether or not Foster's missing daughter is just a figment of her imagination. A few cartoonishly written passengers do occupy the plane, but they are only slightly distracting. With the exception of Erika Christensen ("Traffic"), the supporting cast, Sean Bean ("Lord of the Rings") and Peter Sarsgaard ("Garden State") amongst others, are solid. Christensen has a dazed smile throughout the film irregardless of the situation, as if she's in awe of being in the same film as Foster. A little contrived at times, the film is, nonetheless, a crowd pleaser.

More on "Flightplan:" About | Photos | Trailers | News | Forum

(Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman)
"Shopgirl" is a film about the romantic relationship between a young, financially insecure clerk (Claire Danes) and two men of differing age and status --- a rich, cultured fifty-something (Steve Martin) and a socially awkward, directionless bachelor of a similiar age to her (Jason Schwartzman). This romantic-comedy is funny when it wants to be, but neither romantic nor dramatic when it's not. Schwartzman, playing the young bachelor, is hilarious in every one of his scenes. When the film focuses on his relationship with Danes, it's at its best and is very entertaining. Unfortunately, his relationship only occupies the first act of the film. The rest of film focuses on Steve Martin's sexually charged relationship with Danes, but is dull and not particularly engaging. Martin plays the straight man here --- and it's good to see him do a non-comedic role --- but his character is a bore. It takes more than a cross-generation relationship to shock us nowadays; and those sex scenes are pretty tame by today's standards. Danes does a decent job playing the lonely girl next door, but I'm still unconvinced that someone like her would have such a tough problem finding a date. It's even more unbelievable that someone as socially retarded as Schwartman's character would be able to score with her with such ease. As an examination of relationships between two different age groups, it's not very deep. If you could imagine how "Lost in Translation" could go wrong, "Shopgirl" is that movie. Film critics, so far, agree with me; it currently has a Tomatometer of 43%.

More on "Shopgirl:" About | Photos | Trailers | News | Forum

Other Toronto International Film Festival articles:
Toronto Film Fest: "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"