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Saturday, May 27, 2000

'SOME GIRLS'

You, uh, go girls


Sarah Jessica Parker once said, in a movie, that a woman should make sure she's younger than two people: her gynecologist and her shrink. In the same vein, a woman writing about movies should choose ones with at least one seasoned female character in there and I've acted accordingly. But this time, there's no escape. The average cast age of "Some Girls" is like 22 and there's not one older woman (mother, lady principal, pottery teacher) to appear in a baggy shirt with hands on her hips. No one to tone things down, give lectures and throw cold water. No one.

How depressing. There I was, thinking of myself as young (in the broadest, most general sense of the word) until "Some Girls" came along and said, "You gotta be kidding." I'm crushed. I feel dizzy. My whole life is passing before my eyes.

On another level (the just-doing-my-job level), "Some Girls" is a riveting anthropological study of that most dazzling of all human beings: the young American woman in L.A. All that wealth and health, all those hormones crashing around underneath all those slinky outfits. Their concerns involve dating -- and nails, but mostly dating. They're unhappy all the time with that special L.A. unhappiness. Don't even think that buying a new dress is going to cure anything, though a Versace may do the trick for about 24 hours.

Marissa Ribisi is the star and cowriter of this candy-colored vehicle. She's also the twin sister of Giovanni Ribisi whom you probably saw in "Private Ryan" or "NYPD Blue." The Ribisis run around with the likes of Sofia Coppola and Juliette Lewis; put them all together in the same room and it will generate enough coolness to save the arctic icecaps from global warming.

Anyway, Marissa decided on the project after reading a magazine article that said anyone could make a film for $15,000. In this case, it helped a lot that the anyone was Marissa. She wrote the script with her actress friend Brie Shaffer, then called her other good friend Juliette Lewis to costar. She got Giovanni and producer mom Gay Ribisi on board, then she roped in director Rory Kelly ("Sleep With Me").

The result could be the antimatter sequel to "Virgin Suicides" -- the story of what happens to suburban teenage girls after they survive adolescence and reach their 20s. On the brink of real adulthood, they're no longer as self-destructive and a lot less fragile. They're still fluttering on damaged wings in Girlieland, though, exploring self-obsession, sex and the indignity of being female. This is punctuated by long periods where they wander around the house waiting for some guy to call. Sound familiar? Then you've been there too.

First, we are introduced to Claire (Marissa). With her ultra-fair skin and flaming red hair, Claire comes off like a punkish angel from a Botticelli painting, but when it comes to men, her life is anything but heavenly. Her jock boyfriend ditches her in a back alley and, in despair, she attempts to throw herself in front of his car. Casting a pitying and disdainful gaze on the proceedings is Claire's chum April (Lewis) whose own relationship consists of stringing slavish boyfriend Neil (Michael Rapaport) along while sleeping with a different guy every night.

Then Claire meets Chad (Jeremy Sisto) -- which rhymes with "cad" but he's handsome, seemingly sincere and obviously romantic. He says things like "Can I smell your hair?" Claire thinks this is it, the real thing at long last. But April loses her peace of mind when Claire is happy so she throws a monkey wrench in the works (just like a girl). As for Chad, he cools off after the third date and Claire, once again, is reduced to her "shutting-myself-in-my-room-wishing-I-was-a lesbian routine."

Meanwhile, her clunky brother Jason (Giovanni) is also striking out on love, in his case with Jenn (Pamela Segall Adlon) whose one boast is that she gives sensational blow jobs. "We're just right for each other," Jason insists. "You give great blow jobs and I'd love a good blow job any time!"

Speaking of which, there's a scene where Claire and her girlfriends sit at a bar, discussing the best way to "get a guy off -- which is the most important thing." I'm too old and prudish to repeat the details but honestly, graphic is putting it mildly. And in my day (imagine a crochety voice) no good girl, or bad girl for that matter, uttered the words the femmes in this film utter, and with such frequency. Actually, even more than the profanities, the line that got me was when Claire explains to Chad that she's going home because "I haveta take a dump, OK?"

She wasn't kidding when she called herself "some girl."

"Some Girls" opens today at the Shibuya Cinema Society, (03) 3496-3203.


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