Friday, March 8, 2019

Road House

I drafted this post in December, but it felt insane to add one more thing to anyone’s life at that time - even something as lovely and relaxing as a Sut Nam post (wink!).

So now it’s March, post-Valentine’s Day, post-birthdays, and here we are: right on time, with the speediness, glitz, and glamour you’ve come to associate with this blog (wink, wink!).

Like the rest of the country, I've fallen into a pit of podcasts.  One night in December, at a rare yoga class, I silently asked myself, Why aren’t we walking around the neighborhood listening to a podcast right now? Instead, a blond instructor blasted techno music and blabbered on about finding my true self. I was pretty sure my true self much preferred ogling people’s Christmas lights and breathing in the frosty air.

I did a crazy thing, which was to go out and watch Road House starring, yes, Patrick Swayze.  I mean, while I'm revisiting Footloose, why not do a deep dive on Patrick Swayze? The tagline for Road House is "A tough bouncer is hired to tame a dirty bar."  Don’t you kind of want that tagline for your entire life?  Even if you aren't ever going to watch it, here are six things to appreciate about Road House.

1. Tai Chi at Dawn

There's a bizarre scene early in the movie where a glistening Patrick Swayze does Tai Chi al fresco in the warm morning light.  He’s in a pair of white pants, natch, and all the men around him, including his landlord - a mild-mannered farmer - and the villain who lives across the river from him (obviously), can't take their eyes off him.  I think they are supposed to be wondering what sort of tough guy does something so wondrous as Tai Chi first thing in the morning, but after revisiting the homoeroticism of Footloose, I appreciate Road House's male gaze on what the rest of the world frankly can't take its eyes off, either. That is, Patrick Swayze in his prime.

2. Mock turlenecks (in black and taupe)

This movie makes me wonder if I’ve missed out on a whole life by not embracing mock turtlenecks or, more specifically, mock turtleneck tees.  It also takes high-waisted chinos, wraps them around Swayze, and elevates them to high art.

3. What. Is. That. Even.

More than any other throwback I’ve watched lately, Road House makes me realize that Patrick Swayze’s hair was its own galaxy of wonder and delight.  If any of us had one-eighteenth the confidence that man’s hair had, we’d be more than fine.

4. Scene-Stealing

However much Patrick Swayze masters late 80’s style in this movie, Sam Elliot swoops in and beats him at his own game.

By the way, did you know Sam Elliot was married to Katharine Ross, of The Graduate and Butch Cassidy fame?  I did not, until I saw them together in an Oscars photo this year.  Do the mirrors in their house just burst into flames when those two walk by?  That's a good-looking pair. 

I'm pretty sure that's Kelly Lynch's mega-teased mane by Elliot's right shoulder in the photo above, but it looks like he's carrying backup
hair, just in case, doesn't it?

5. Jim Harrison!

There’s one scene where Swayze sort of spies on a party at the villain's house across the river.  Reading in his barn/loft - which has open windows with no screens or doors but no mosquitos or vagrancy? -  what is the shirtless Swayze reading but none other than Harrison’s 1979 collection of novellas, Legends of the Fall.

Any state of undress is absolutely the way Harrison would prefer all his work to be read, by the way.

In other news, the barn/loft is the future setting for one of the grossest love scenes I’ve seen in a while, with none other than Kelly Lynch who makes another appearance later in this post.

6. Future Lebowski co-stars

Finally, the late actor Ben Gazzara, who played Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski, plays the villain in Road House, though it took me awhile to figure this out.  One day, you’re lazily watching an 80’s cult classic and the next, you’re driving home from daycare when you realize the bad guy in Road House is that affable pornographer with the sunken living room in The Big Lebowski

As for other things I’ve done with my life since December, I finished My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie, the memoir written by Debbie Reynold’s son and Carrie Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher.  According to Tim, My Girls was an even worse cover to wake to every morning than Jeff Tweedy’s memoir.  I accidentally left it on his nightstand when I fell asleep after reading so he is, I suppose, the expert.  I don’t mean to be disrespectful.  The cover of My Girls isn’t bad, but Fisher is sort of creeping out from the side of his mother’s hat on it, and during the period I was reading the book we kept re-enacting the stance around the house, yelling out Yoohoo! from around the corner because we’re very mature people.

In all seriousness, Fisher’s dedication to his mother—and his mother’s devotion to her children—was moving, and I was also impressed by some of the details of Debbie Reynold’s work life.  Her love life was an unmitigated disaster with crooked, philandering husband after crooked, philandering husband bankrupting her multiple times, but her vision for a Hollywood museum, while never successfully realized, was her passion.  Despite incredible sexism against her as an entrepreneur, she preserved a lot of movie history in private collections until, sadly, she had to auction them.  In short, I basically read the book to learn why I should care about Debbie Reynolds, and now I know and now I do.

I read a book of interviews and illustrations called The Wes Anderson Collection and really enjoyed it.  It seems I wasn’t the only one.

I also re-watched The Royal Tenenbaums and cried SEVERAL times.  When I was younger, I could barely stand how stylish, funny, and satisfying it was.  When I watched it this time, I was covered in goosebumps, especially the first time we see Richie Tenenbaum’s falcon, Mordecai, fly after all the characters have been introduced in what has to be one of the longest opening sequences in film. 

I also watched Drugstore Cowboy for the first time and was worried because I don’t like narratives of drug addiction.  They make me nervous for obvious reasons, and the seediness that accompanies most addiction really gets to me.  I don’t like being in fast-moving environments in life and in film.  But Drugstore Cowboy had appropriate gravity and grittiness, and while it was not at all sermonizing, had a sobering effect I appreciated.  It took me awhile to realize the brunette heroine was played by Kelly Lynch, whom I had just watched as a Jeep-driving blonde in Road House.  It was also trippy to see such a young Matt Dillon, and made me appreciate the glamour I associated with his name as a kid.

Speaking of names and shimmering youth, I’ve fallen down a bit of an Ethan Hawke rabbit hole lately and I feel the only thing you can really feel about a run like that: shame, wonder, and intermittent faith that there’s a good reason for all this nonsense. 

I saw Reality Bites for the first time in February, weirdly on the day the film turned twenty-five.  I did this out of nowhere – just picked it up for the heck of it and watched it while Ellis napped one day, spending most of it wondering why anyone still knows the movie’s name. Then I became possessed and didn’t stop thinking about it for weeks.  I was mad I was supposed to sweat Ethan Hawke over Ben Stiller, who made me laugh out loud several times with his awkwardness and who, hello!, plays a man with a job, a shower, and knowledge of how to communicate his feelings.  I also started sweating Ethan Hawke three seconds after the film ended, as if something radioactive had been planted in my skin by the last scene which is, frankly, not good by any stretch. 

Bad dialogue aside, let’s revisit the look of Ethan Hawke’s character’s in the last scene, shall we?

If you can find something redeeming there, please call my psyche, which has some explaining to do.

Last week I watched Woman in the Fifth, written and directed by the Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski, and while I understand why someone could be annoyed by it, I liked it.  After all this, I may have worked up the courage for First Reformed, which looked so intense in the first preview I saw for it I was basically like, Yeah, I will never see that, ever.

I honestly can’t tell if Ethan Hawke is a good actor or not, which feels like a rude thing to say.  He also married his former nanny, so there’s that.  I liked him in Juliet, Naked, which I picked up a couple months ago because I like Chris O’Dowd and Rose Byrne, whom I especially like in This Is Where I Leave You. Re: Hawke’s character in Juliet, Naked, which is based on a Nick Hornby novel, I sort of love a rascal with a heart of gold and have a special fondness for bad dads who make good in the end.  Is that weird?

I saw BlacKkKlansman and thought Topher Grace was great in it. I also enjoyed John David Washington and was amused to find out he’s Denzel’s son.  I don’t think I would have put that together on my own.  Sometimes – okay, most of the time - I feel clubbed over the head by Spike Lee, but I genuinely loved his acceptance speech at the Oscars. His outfit was great and I can’t stop thinking about how he told everyone his grandma called him Spikey Poo. 

That’s it.  Or, in the words of my dad, when a cashier at McDonald’s asked if he wanted anything else, after he had ordered an enormous amount of food for his family of five: Isn't that enough?  Seriously, I keep thinking I’m going to write shorter posts more frequently, but it doesn’t happen, and I’m mostly okay with that.  If you’re feeling spritely, let me know what you really want from Sut Nam sometime – via paper, email, or if you must, a nasty, incendiary tweet about why there aren’t more pictures of baby pigs.  I’m being serious here.  What do you people want?

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