Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Castles in the Sky

Movies now are wham-bam computer benders (Transformers), flicks that cater to a particular interest group (Hairspray, Barbershop) or are idiot comedy/chick outings in the barf house (anything with Adam Sandler or Jennifer Aniston).  Back in the day, they made a different kind of film.   Offbeat, specific character studies based on a life lived by a soul perceived as anonymous and reluctantly heroic; the personality that didn't quite fit in.  Things rarely exploded.   Death wasn't used as MSG for overwrought pork.   

These movies--many, many of them, most of which you will probably never hear of--came and went.   The style had its moment; it's gone now and perhaps what we've ushered in is more entertaining.   The Social Network is our new character study.  Certainly it's faster and more fun to watch.  More to suck us in.  So timely.  So Big.

But for a Guerilla, for a student of the game, the older films had a particular edge and quality to them.  It's not that they were sharp, per se but they were interesting, ineffable, personal.  They were moody. 

I'm thinking specifically of Shampoo, a 1975 film about a (straight) hairdresser in Beverly Hills, played by Warren Beatty.  Warren's character is a monstrous hound, peripatectically gash grooving on the Triumph he ransacks the streets with.  But that isn't what is really significant about the film and the movie almost consciously lures you into the trap of thinking it is before pulling the rug out.  The quality of his encounters,  the vibe, or atmosphere--just call it the context of how he holds his unfolding drama--is far more significant than his "techniques" around women.  The content is secretly larger than the form.

Observe:  In one famous early scene inside his salon, Beatty stands in front of a woman drying her hair.  He has her bent completely over, butt of her head resting against his cock as he casually fluffs her locks.  His nonchalance is comical and of course titillating.  Very visual, screams HOUND, what a groove the dude is you say to your celibate self.  That's the form; it's what sucks you in.

But here's the content.  Later in the movie, after a blow up with one of his bitches, Beatty is talking to a friend.  He says, after a rare reflective moment, "Maybe I don't love all of them.  But no one can tell me I don't like them very much."

Other lines are better known, like when Lee Grant is asked what she wants for dinner at a party and replies "I want to suck his [Beatty's] cock."  But I think "maybe-I-don't-love-them-all" is the most interesting in the movie.  The gripping thing about it is that it does not come across as funny--which it certainly could have.  It's faceted, and the bottom facet is really, actually...touching.  That's the content.  Among other things, it leaves Warren's character defying any neat description because, well, yes he's is a hound but he is conflicted, sensitive to how he perceived and, at bottom, trapped by his needs and inability to control himself.  It's all there in that one statement.

Maybe you're not doing hair for a living and maybe you don't own a Triumph.  But when you talk to a woman, Munchkins, figure out how to go vertical.  The techniques sold by the web artists emphasize the form over the content; they are thin lines stretching from you to a bank account.  Not that you want to come across as a conflicted hound necessarily, but figure out how you can be personal and create a different mood than what the little lady expects.  Maybe not then but weeks or months later she will wake up one morning and say to herself 'you know that guy was a little different.'

For more information on how the Guerilla approaches life and love go to www.guerillalover.com

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