Slums Of Beverly Hills

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Year: 1998

Writer: Tamara Jenkins

Director: Tamara Jenkins

Budget: $5 million (estimated)

Gross: $5 480 318

its time for another 'in the banner' film (that is, films whose poster is used in the filmed but not forgotten banner - if i ever change the banner just disregard the opening sentence).  so far i have covered Run Lola Run, Irreversible, Dick, The Shape Of Things and Kundun.  this week we get to Slums Of Beverly Hills.

it is even a little more relevant since director tamara jenkins' second and most recent film, The Savages has within the last little while come out on DVD.  Slums Of Beverly Hills was her directorial debut and what a nice debut it was.

the film follows the nomadic abromowitz family as they... to be honest i hate doing this synopsis part, so how about i just give you the imdb version:
    Vivian's family are penniless nomads, moving from one cheap flat to another in Beverly Hills so she and her brothers can attend the city's schools. Uncle Mickey sends them money to survive. When Mickey's daughter Rita runs away from an asylum, Vivian's dad offers shelter to her if Mickey will pay for a plush flat. Vivian must babysit her adult cousin, making sure she gets to nursing school and avoids pills and booze. But Vivian has her own problems: she's curious about sex, likes an older neighbor kid, has inherited her mother's ample breasts, and wants a family that doesn't embarrass her. Can she help Rita, keep Uncle Mickey happy, and feel OK about her body and her family?

the film is touching and funny and so well written and acted.  alan arkin is great, as always, playing the good dad who isn't what he once was but is so doing his best.  and natasha lyonne is perfect as the star of this tale (she was number 4 on my list: fbnf female performances).  marisa tomei, who doesn't really get the respect she deserves, is also very good and so damn sexy.

the film does a great job of catching an era, but without all the typical markers.  its the 70's so we got the clothes and the cars and the furniture, etc... but they aren't always making nixon/saturday night fever/vietnam  war/watergate references. and when they do, they feel very genuine to the story and not added in to give the audience something to recognize.  the film is about the times, but only in so much as it effects and relates to this family and their trials and tribulations.

you will fall and feel for these people and the movie will not disappoint.