Saturday, March 21, 2009

Feature Length Film: The Muse (1999)

Own it On DVD

Albert Brooks

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"She has the lineage of a goddess, a touch of the diva, good story sense, the basic instincts of a freeloader, and the look of love. When she was made, the mold was broken. Who is this woman? 100% pure Muse. Only on Mount Olympus? Hardly - the cell phone reception up there is so erratic. Only in Hollywood!

"The Muse is the new film from one of America's premiere humorists, Albert Brooks. Writer/director Brooks brings his incisive wit and social satire (seen and heard in Mother, Defending Your Life, Lost in America, Modern Romance, and Real Life) to the telling of a timeless tale, set in present-day Los Angeles.

"One fine night, Hollywood screenwriter Steven Phillips (Albert Brooks) basks in the honor of a humanitarian award, presented to him at a black-tie dinner as his proud wife Laura (Andie MacDowell) and daughters look on. One crappy morning later, a junior studio executive is telling Steven that he's lost his creative edge, and releases Steven from his contract. Steven's confidence is shaken: he wants to work, but how can he, if word is out that he's over?

"Desperately seeking counsel, Steven visits his friend, enviably successful screenwriter Jack Warrick (Jeff Bridges), at Jack's Bel Air estate. Jack confides to Steven that he himself was inspired to his ongoing success. Not by a muse, but by a Muse. Steven is incredulous as Jack tells him of Sarah (Sharon Stone), one of the nine daughters (The Muses) of the god Zeus (of Greek mythology fame). The Muses inspire creativity - and one, Sarah, has alighted in Hollywood. Steven is soon consumed by the prospect of becoming one of Sarah's clients. As a favor, Jack agrees to set up a meeting between Sarah and Steven.

"The meeting, held in a guest house where Sarah is staying, gets off to a shaky start, but Sarah soon puts Steven at ease. In her capacity as Muse, Sarah explains, she does not do any actual work herself, but helps filmmakers get in touch with their own inner creativity. Sarah agrees to take Steven on as a client, but not before detailing her needs: food, lodging, car and driver, 24-hour access to Steven by phone, etc. Perks notwithstanding, Steven, impatient to get inspired, eagerly closes the deal. Closer to home, despite her misgivings, Laura accepts Sarah into the Phillips household. As Steven's wife and Muse become fast friends, he realizes that their lives and work will never be the same again."

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