The pool parties have kinda dried up, for now. They’ll be back, sometime in my life. I hope. That exhilaration that swirled around me during a sunny couple of weeks in July seems to have snuck away on little cat feet, leaving instead lots of foggy, cold days which are great for brooding and writing, but which are bad for… just about everything else. Like thinking about your situation as a jobless person, looking ahead at the long stretches of days and years that you hope to fill with success and triumphs and (legally obtained, non-government issued) paychecks of some sort. These long stretches look one way when it’s sunny out and you’re sipping cocktails poolside, and another way when it’s October in July and your car window decides to just drop off its hinges and your health insurance runs out and then the Silverlake walking man (RIP) passes away and you maybe start to think you could easily wind up like the Silverlake walking man: a half cocked, half dressed, sunburnt loner who one day decides to take a forever dip in the Jacuzzi. I really think I suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
This funk got me thinking about Sullivan’s Travels, the super awesome Preston Sturges movie that you really should see if you haven’t. It’s about an out-of-touch Hollywood director who wants to write MEANINGFUL, DEEP stories that will INSPIRE and MOVE people. So he goes “undercover” with a bunch of hobos (man I love that word so very much) to really see what it’s like in the trenches, and to see what “those people” experience. What he learns in the end, though, is that making silly comedies can be more deep and meaningful than trying to tell highfalutin stories about the human condition. Especially in times like this when so many of us are taking pay cuts, having our hours reduced, or are altogether unemployed. I think this phenomenon explains my recent giddy, unabashed, all-consuming love for the movie SALT, and my disdain for that other movie, INCEPTION. I sat through Inception bored and annoyed. Sure, it looks great and Leonardo is like our modern day Clark Gable (I love it that he always looks well groomed and dapper, even off set… that’s sexy. No scraggly beards and greasy hair for him!), but to be honest I just don’t want to have to THINK that damn much when I see a movie these days. And besides, Inception thinks it’s way deeper than it is. I mean, “what if our reality is just a dream?” Come ON! Those were deep thoughts in eighth grade when my first love and I would lay in the bayou, holding hands and staring up at the changing clouds wondering aloud, “what if this is a dream… etc etc,” but now? And do we really need to spend almost three (confusing) hours contemplating this? Just freaking entertain me already!
Enter Salt. I saw it during my deep funk, and I must have REALLY needed a movie just like this on that particular night because I actually clapped at the end. Loudly. I didn’t care if no one else clapped. I didn’t care that this wasn’t the premiere where everyone is supposed to clap, and instead it was just a normal old night at the Arclight. I clapped goddammit! A few other people did too – maybe they had just gotten their hours cut that week. During the entire ninety minutes when Angelina was leaping across speeding semis on the freeway and beating the crap out of grown men with her toothpick arms, I felt like a little girl surrounded by Barbie dolls, easy-bake ovens and Neapolitan ice cream. THIS is what Preston Sturges was talking about! This silly, fun, entertaining flick pulled me — like Westley pulling himself out of the quicksand in Princess Bride — right out of my dark place. Salt is badass, and I cannot wait for the sequel. And I think I may need to dress as bloody, butch Salt for Halloween, as a tribute. I mean, this chick jumps out of airplanes without a parachute! Hells yes.
This phenomenon applies to books too. Somebody lent me a Paul Auster book that’s about as uplifting and positive as Talented Mr. Ripley (meaning, this is some dark recesses of the human condition crap) and it’s good, and I can’t stop reading it, but I kind of miss the Chelsea Handler book that I read right before it. It had a hot pink cover! She wrote about Cabbage Patch Kids and adolescent masturbation! But I lent that one out so I can’t pick it up and use it as a buffer. Maybe I’ll watch reruns of The Chappelle Show between chapters, so as to stay sane and balanced.
I may need Chelsea Handler and Angelina and Neapolitan ice cream at this moment in time, to stop myself when I start thinking too much about the fine line separating me from the Silverlake walking man, but I won’t go so far as to resort to watching Rachel Ray or Sex and the City 2. When you see me watching that crap, all hope is lost. It’s not just a harmless distraction watching grown women twirl around the streets of Abu Dhabi in Chanel couture – it’s an assault on your psyche, people! I loved SATC the show, and I loved the first movie – it was like glittery, pink crack. Just pure fun. I admit I even had a cosmo afterwards. I’m not proud of that, but there it is. And it took me a little while to figure out why I had zero, zilch, nada desire to see this new SATC. I don’t care about bad reviews with movies like this – I KNOW they’ll be dumb, but if they’re fun, I’m in! It’s because of this: In this new SATC they flitter around Abu Dhabi in the highest of fashion, in this freaking economy? It’s just an insult, and so out of touch with what’s happening these days. Maybe it’s just because I am one of CNN’s statistics about the economy now, but I think they should have at least had Miranda get laid off or have Samantha’s PR business go under. At least Salt wears utilitarian clothes – I’m sure she could afford a puffy Chanel dress, but she has more sense than that. If Salt twirls out of airplanes in the sequel wearing a Dior ball gown, Balenciaga 6-inch heels and a tiara, I may need to find a new distraction.
The point is, at this time, in this economy, at this moment, bring me the big, dumb, fun. As Mr. Sturges once wrote: “It isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan.”