11.17.2010

Steve Martin's Movies

In 2007 I happened onto a book review on the New York Times. It was Steve Martin's Born Standing Up.

The article really went into a depth never before broached about Steve Martin's amazing talent and how he developed it one step at a time. For me, it was an eye opener about an artist I grew to appreciate as a child in the 80s.

Before encountering and reading the book review, what I remembered Steve Martin most fondly for, was his movies from the 1980s: All of Me, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Parenthood, Planes/Trains&Automobiles, etc.  I really had an attraction to his characters' quiet intensity and, sometimes, fumbling nature.

When I found out he had written a memoir of sorts, from the NYTimes, I figured "well he must be trying to reclaim his place with the audience, it's been a while since he's been out and about." Even though he did star in the Pink Panther remakes, of late. And Cheaper by the Dozen. And two Father of the Brides. Yet, I never really thought these movies were of the same quality as his earlier ones. Something had changed.

The article actually opened up some great insight into how extensively talented he really is. He is a completely self made comedian, writer, and musician. His range of humor broaches that old adage, that the higher up an audience is, the less obvious you need to be because they can make the connections on their own. He really does leave a ton of white space in his brand of humor and writing, that lesser audiences find amusing for their disconnectedness, but that wiser audiences can actually identify as meaningful. He really is a multifaceted artist.

Alas, as things often do, with time this memoir (and his other books) slipped my radar entirely. But I did occasionally see his movies, and my fondness for his work reignites each time I do. Not to mention I recently found out he started a Twitter account, which I immediately followed...there's a pack of monkeys running gag he often posts about.

I did notice he was coming to Ravinia earlier this summer, and was planning on making a weekend out of his and another show (Saturday, and Sunday) yet it was completely sold out.

Last night I was finally able to see Shop Girl from my queue on Netflix. This is a movie I was tentative about seeing because, although I knew it emerged from a book he wrote, a novella in fact, I was reticent to be disappointed.

Surprise, surprise, I was totally taken a back by the movie, the symbolism, and depth it carried--the theme was something I think often about. It was no small feat of acting for Claire Danes, a very amazing, and well-educated actress. I really hunger for well-acted movies lately, that have zero or minimal f/x. They're so hard to come by!

There were so many details for the admiring, and great interactions, dialogue, and landscapes to absorb. It was a pleasure for all the senses--and best of all, it made you think a little. I should hope to watch this movie again sometime and look for new things I missed on the first go around.

I always find it surprising that whenever I start reading his life story, say for instance in an article or on Wikipedia even, I become as engrossed as if I were reading a novel. The range of his work and projects, even the false starts, are the perfect makings of a great read.

So to hasten action, rather than procrastinate further, I've thrown a couple of his books onto my Amazon Wish List. I think it's time to read up directly from the horse's mouth.

Do you ever renew your wonder and appreciation, when seeing favorite writers in a new light? Happy discoveries.