52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shampoo

109 min. | Dir. Hal Ashby | Rated R

Looking like The Strokes ca. 2002, Warren Beatty plays George Roundy, a hairdresser who, as his name announces, gets around. The film begins and ends with him caught in flagrante delicto, and in between he juggles girlfriends and lovers while the 1968 presidential election unfolds in the background. The implied critique—that the sexual obsession borne of (and born in) the ‘60s instead of liberating us brought on our political impotence—remains relevant, particularly as it reveals that our interests are never “for the people” but for the person, enacted here in George’s desire to get off and get financing for his business, which amount to the same thing. The director, Hal Ashby, was on a hot streak with Harold and Maude and The Last Detail. Here, by assembling a cast that includes Lee Grant, Carrie Fisher, Goldie Hawn, and Julie Christie, he blunts, somewhat, the movie’s satiric bite. Watching all these beautiful people pursue each other makes you think that whatever evil befalls the country or the world doesn’t matter so long as you look good. After all, you’re worth it. (At the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach.)

[Published this week in the print edition of The District.]

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