Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|My First Mister|
Actors: Albert Brooks, Leelee Sobieski, Carol Kane, Desmond Harrington, Gary Bullock
Genres: Comedy, Drama
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A wonderful little film
Dan Seitz | Somerville, MA, USA | 10/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This has been unjustly trashed, probably because it's earnest, warm, and gentle, something not usually valued by the ex-film-students who run the indie world. So defy them and go see this touching gem of a tragicomedy.A lotta g's there. Anyway, the movie starts like this; Jay (as in Jennifer, played by Leelee Sobieski) is a self-centered Goth teen, perceptive in some ways, naive in others; you know, typical teenager. Graduating from school, she needs a job to get her own place, and comes across Randall, a straightlaced but rather kind men's clothing store manager (Albert Brooks), who gives her a job.The movie goes from there. I won't bother to describe the plot any further because A) it'd blow way too many jokes and B) it's not what you call stunningly original, which would matter if this weren't a character piece. However, this movie isn't about what happens to Jay and "R", as Jay dubs him, but how they cause and react to the events in it.The relationship is a bit more complicated than friendship; Jay becomes sexually interested in Randall, which some people have found pretty hard to swallow, or have used to dismiss this as another "middle-aged guy wows young girl" movie, a case of boomer ego. Lay your fears to rest; this is a movie about a man and a girl entering a father-daughter relationship, not "Autumn in New York." I really feel sorry for people who got SO caught up in this aspect of the film that they missed its humor, or its heart.Don't think, however, that just because this movie is touching, it's afraid of going for a belly laugh. The window dressing alone is worth the price of admission. I can't emphasize this enough, this movie is FUNNY!The acting is great; Brooks and Sobieski, whether dealing with anger or trading one-liners, have sensational chemistry. Carol Kane delivers an excellent character performance as Jay's hyper-perky mother, and Michael McKean is a riot as Jay's...imperceptive stepfather. John Goodman has basically a cameo as Jay's hippie father, and he's funny, as always.Then there's Christine Lahti's direction. The movie is told from Jay's viewpoint, and at the start, it's gently surreal, with good use made of computer special effects. Lahti handles this with considerable sensitivity, not neglecting the visual aspects in favor of the actors. She does quite a good job.This is a movie infused with warmth, heart, and bittersweetness. It's good for a laugh, and good for a cry, and I heartily recommend it if you want either or both."
One of my favorites this year
K. Corn | Indianapolis,, IN United States | 05/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a wonderful little gem of a movie, full of depth and heart and more than a few surprises. Leelee Sobieski plays against her blonde and generally beautiful stereotype in this film, appearing as a rather dark and depressed 17 year old teen (nicknamed J), complete with tattoos, black makeup and pierced skin. She is miserable at school, doesn't feel understood by her mother (Carol Kane in one of her best roles), stepfather or father. She has no friends. In short, she is alienated, desperately in need of someone she can relate to.
That someone turns out to be the last person you'd expect, a 49 year old men's clothing store owner named Randall (played by Albert Brooks). Although he is reluctant to hire her, he eventually gives in and the two become friends after a shakey start. Not that it is all smooth going. The two are so different that there's bound to be a few rough patches in their friendship, some occasions where they test one another (I don't want to give details for fear of spoiling the surprises).
Luckily this doesn't turn into another "older guy, younger girl" romance. Director Christine Lahti is too smart to things get so stereotypical - thank goodness. And she is also wise enough to let viewers discover the hidden depths in Randall and J, depths that might not surface if sex muddied the waters. Lahti also adds the special touches that make this movie a standout - humorous bits, personal details and an understated style that charms without being overwhelming. If you're looking for a movie that will touch your heart and leave you with a good feeling after watching it, you can't do better than this one."
Affecting Performances by Sobieski and Brooks
Reviewer | 04/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Among the many and myriad young actresses making movies today, there has unequivocally emerged a Fantastic Four, and they are: Natalie Portman, Anna Paquin, Kirsten Dunst and Leelee Sobieski. And the one who is arguably the leader of the pack, Leelee Sobieski, takes on the starring role here, in "My First Mister," a story of two very different people, of different generations, both of whom are alone in the world (though in different ways and for different reasons), and who ultimately find what they need in one another-- and without even consciously looking for it. Directed by Christine Lahti, It's a study, not only of human nature, but of the expansiveness and resiliency of the human spirit and of the heart, and how it is possible for two people to defy category and definition, and intuitively reach out to one another by allowing fate, or destiny-- or whatever you want to call it-- to take them beyond the parameters set by society, where-- as in this case-- they are able to find fulfillment in it's purest sense. It's a revised chapter taken from the age-old book of The Human Comedy, updated to a contemporary setting to illustrate that now as much as ever, no man is an island; that everyone needs someone, that there is someone for everyone and, moreover, that one will instinctively seek out that kindred soul, often finding him in the most unlikely of places. Jennifer (Sobieski) is an unhappy teen; she's adopted a goth look and lifestyle, embraces her autonomy, but in so doing has alienated just about everybody around her, including-- or perhaps especially-- her immediate family. she simply cannot relate to her mother, Sylvie (Carol Kane), who seems perpetually mired in the `50s (her appearance and attitude part of her own defense mechanisms and survival tactics), or her step-father, Bob (Michael McKean), a nondescript individual who is just...there. What Jennifer longs for is a place of her own, which she equates (albeit subconsciously) to independence, and toward that end she begins looking for the gainful employment that will enable her to achieve her immediate goal. And it is during her job search that she encounters Randall (Albert Brooks), the manager of a men's clothing store. Necessity may be the proverbial mother of invention, but here it becomes the driving force that makes the connection between two people who-- if not for that necessity-- would never have known the other existed. As it turns out, however, due to some quite personal circumstances and reasons of his own, Randall is something of a singular individual, and is able to see beyond Jennifer's outward appearance and attitude, and agrees to give her a job on a trial basis. And it's the beginning of a unique relationship that will ultimately change both of their lives forever, and in ways that neither of them could possibly have imagined. This is the first feature film that Lahti-- a fine actor herself-- has directed, and she does an exemplary job with it. She knows her characters and the emotional terrain with which she is dealing, and subtly fills the story as it unfolds with pathos and poignancy, which she delivers with care and sensitivity. Lahti has an eye for emotional detail and, perhaps due to her own extensive acting background, knows how to extract the precise sentiment she's endeavoring to express from her actors. And because of the way it's presented, when the story takes an unexpected turn, the transition is so seamless it comes across as entirely real and convincing, which of course gives it credibility, and makes it believable. Lahti has a gentle touch tempered with a restraint, and it gives her film a natural flow and a rhythm that draws in the viewer and makes for a satisfying and involving experience. Complementing Lahti's style, and assuring the success of this film, are the wonderful performances by Sobieski and Brooks. Sobieski runs an emotional gamut in this film, and she does it with a poise and maturity beyond her years, making her journey from disenfranchised goth at the beginning of the film, to the individual she is at the end, plausible and convincing. She manages to convey all of the emotional layers of her character, which enables the viewer to relate to the complexities of who this young woman is and what she's feeling, which-- since this is a character driven story-- is integral to the overall success of the film. And Sobieski makes it so, with a memorable performance. A big part of the credit for the film's success has to go to Albert Brooks, as well. As he does here with Randall, Brooks has an innate ability to create a character that is so normal, so average-guy-on-the-street, that it adds that total sense of reality to the film. It's the little things that Brooks does so well, and that make all the difference; he gives the audience someone with whom they can truly empathize and identify, because he so succinctly manages to express all the affecting elements of everyday life-- the minutiae of day-to-day existence, as well as the corresponding emotions-- through his characters, and it's why you're going to remember Randall for a long, long time. Like Ben Stiller, Brooks has a straightforward, often wry delivery that works so well, and which he uses to great effect. And it certainly serves him well here. The supporting cast includes Desmond Harrington (Randy), Mary Kay Place (Patty), Kevin Cooney (Doctor), William Forward (Customer) and Lisa Jane Persky (Sheila). An entertaining, well crafted and delivered film that promises one thing and ends up giving much more, "My First Mister," in the final analysis, is an engaging story that goes deep and touches the heart, and without any maudlin sentimentality attached. Ultimately a transporting experience, this is one that will take you to a place you'll want to be, and you'll be glad you took the journey. And that's the magic of the movies."
Done before but not this well
Charlotte Vale-Allen | CT USA | 12/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The combination of 17-year-old J (for Jennifer) who writes epitaphs in the darkness of her Goth life and almost-fifty, suprisingly keen-witted and tolerant Randall shouldn't work as the leading pair of any film. But they do because of the heart-felt and profoundly intelligent performances of Leelee Sobieski (of the piercing gray-blue eyes) and Albert Brooks (who should, by now, have an entire shelf filled with Academy Awards). Goth girl and uptight clothing salesman make a gentle connection that proves enlightening and life-affirming for both of them. Directed to great effect by Christine Lahti, this is a film that could've been a sweetly sickening confection. Instead, its potentially saccharine moments are salvaged by surprising nuggets of truth and humor. We have the privilege of watching these two characters grow and evolve into finer versions of themselves. Ably assisted by Carol Kane (as J's ditzy but good-hearted mother) and Michael McKean (one of the exceptionally versatile regulars on the great Tracy Ullman show) in a toupee that's so terrible it deserves a special award. Kudos go to Mary Kay Place and John Goodman who carry off their supporting roles good-naturedly. This is a lovely film that tugs at the heart-strings without being manipulative while, at the same time, tweaking our funny bones.
Most highly recommended."