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Perf romance: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘The Shop Around the Corner’ at the Stanford Theatre

Christmas comes early with the soaring “Shop Around the Corner” (1940), which plays at the Stanford Theatre this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, March 18-19 at 5:40 and 9:30 p.m. Director Lubitsch is the benevolent Papa Claus, and Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are his merry head elves, bringing joy, color and humble beauty. A bit of…

“Obvious Child” makes romantic comedy out of controversial subject matter

Much of “Obvious Child” is well-trodden ground for a romantic comedy: it is, in short, the story of a twenty-something woman looking for love, mostly in vain. Donna (Jenny Slate) is an aspiring comedian, whose boyfriend dumps her for airing their dirty laundry (namely, her underwear) on stage. She loses her day job at the bookstore Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books and, after a drunken one-night stand, finds herself pregnant. What makes “Obvious Child” memorable, however, is its unapologetic portrayal of Donna’s abortion, which becomes the backbone for the movie’s plot and her budding romance with a Max (Jake Lacy), an earnest business school student.

Both hailed and derided as an “abortion comedy,” “Obvious Child” is disappointing because it is only an “abortion comedy.” Whatever chutzpah writer and director Gillian Robespierre summoned to take on political controversy did not translate into stylistic bravery. Instead, the film seems to cling to a progressive political argument because its story is otherwise unremarkable.