Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Thoughts on American Gigolo

Yes, that American Gigolo. I realize that I am late to the party. This movie is going to be 30 years old before my older son is a bar mitvah. But I DVR'd it, mainly because (mom, please look away now) I heard that Richard Gere does full frontal in it over an extended monologue. True dat.

I could think of a few things to say about this flick, but the one thing that keeps coming to mind above all else is how the main character, Julian Kaye, an aggressively heterosexual hustler in a gay and bisexual hustler world, allowed everyone in said hustler world to call him...JULIE. WTF?

How feminizing. How amiguifying.

OK, fine. Could be ripe for analyzing some underlying text of sexual ambiguity in 1980's Los Angeles. Or something like that. Except I couldn't make sense of it in the context of the movie at all. I mean, if there were an underlying message to the movie that all hustlers are homosexual underneath it all, or that Richard Gere was in love with his (gay) pimp or otherwise confused about his orientation, I can understand the "Hey Julie, how's it going" that generously peppered the script. But here was a man who LOVED women. He considered his job to be an act of generosity, to give love and attention to women who craved it. Once in the film, he pretended to be a gay interior designer (named BARON SCHOENFELD of all things...some of you will get that reference), but that was only to protect his client's reputation when she was seen with him in an art auction house.

Why call him Julie? WHY?

Other than that distraction, and other than the fact that I was astounded by Richard Gere's absolute failure to age since 1980 (sorry but a thick head of wavy grey hair is NOT enough to make a person look 30 years older), oh, and other than the problem of Lauren Hutton's wooden line reads and her aged voice and appearance which made it seem as if she were old enough to be Gere's mother, rather than his slightly older lover, the film was entertaining and engaging and followed a compelling story arc: Julian's proud, Armani-clad strut gradually dissembles into a Salvation Army-bin shuffle as he is framed for the murder of one of his clients. In the midst of this, he is developing a romantic bond with Lauren Hutton's character, Michelle, a senator's wife. Essentially, the forces of money and power are beyond Julian's power to seduce, and at every turn, he is knocked down further.

What could have been an appropriate, if not horribly depressing, ending to the film was the climactic scene in which he confronts the pimp who is framing him, and there is a fight, and the pimp falls to his death from his hotel balcony. Julie is left holding the pimp's red cowboy boots.

Maybe I've seen too much of movies like There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men. But this seemed like where Gigolo should end. Hustlers get into trouble and they can't pull themselves up by their...bootstraps. The end.

Instead, there are a series of short scenes, each ending abruptly in black screen. These scenes awkwardly narrate the growing involvement of Lauren Hutton's Michelle in Julie's murder trial until the final scene, in which she goes to see him at one of those glass-partitioned prison visitation rooms, and she tells him that she would rather die than not lie in order to provide him with a credible alibi. He responds by dropping his phone so that she has to just read his lips as he says, "Oh, Michelle, why did it take me so long to come to you?". He then leans his head against the glass, where her hand is waiting. How poetic. If there were no glass, she could stroke his hair...but there IS glass...will there always be SOMETHING between them?

As interesting as that question might be, it is entirely unnecessary and felt completely tacked on. I kept trying to think of how the movie should have ended, if say, it was totally unacceptable to end it on the sour note of Julie standing there holding the pimp's red boots. And I came up with nothing more than the final scene. All the short-cut scenes in between were just weirdly distracting and again, very tacked on. It reminded me of two other really poorly ended movies: AI (Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence) and Sliver (did anyone besides me even see that one?). AI just kept tacking more and more onto the end, when it should have just stopped. Like someone stammering an excuse and adding more and more and more until it doesn't make any sense at all. And Sliver, well, the ending was like a punchline. I don't even remember it, but it reminded me of when an entire season of Dallas turned out to be nothing more than "Pam's Dream".

Anyway, there you go. This is what I am doing when I should be sleeping. Or talking about my practice and thanking the lovely and talented ELISE from Mysore Mysings for the tip on coming to my fingertips before standing. WOW. Such awesome advice. I got several thumbs up from shala mates at the CT Shala today. We shall see if I can reproduce it tomorrow in NYC.

I find myself thinking about Kapotasana, and wondering if CH thinks I am already practicing it. I ask myself this because he wanted me to assist someone in Supta Vajrasana on Sunday, and he generally does not allow you to assist on poses you are not already practicing...so it dawned on me that perhaps he thinks I am practicing up to Supta Vaj? I was relieved that the assistant teacher was already on the task and that I wouldn't have to deal with the whole issue. Well, I guess if he wants me to do Kapo, he can always ask. Until then, I have decided I am ready to wait as long as it takes to be given that pose. It looks like a LOT of work. And while it has been fun to dabble in it at home, do I really want to commit to that work every single day...yet?

Nitey nite,


Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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