Movie Reviews > Solitary Man

Solitary Man

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: July 18, 2010

Went to see the Film “Solitary Man” today with Michael Douglas. Actually, I didn’t go with Michael Douglas. I went with my daughter Alison, which, due to the stranger than fiction aspect of life, also happened to be the name of a pivotal character in the film.

Since I’m going to list this as a film review, I should make at least a passing attempt at reviewing the film.

It was good.

Ok, so now that I have that out of the way, let me get to the reason I was spending my Sunday afternoon in a theater on a perfect day on Southern California’s Gold Coast. I was frightened. I’m not ashamed to admit that.

Here I was on a day when people were driving all the way from Reseda to spend the day at the beach. I left my hotel a mere block from an excellent beach to go inland and hide inside a theater. What frightened me were the sights I observed at the beach.

Skydiving, rock climbing, surfing, none of that scares me. Oh sure, There have been three broken backs in the family due to those events. But broken backs heal. No biggie.

The stuff I saw today, that is the kind of stuff that scars you for life. And no, it was not a shark attack. I do hate blood, I’ll admit that also. It scares me silly. Another thing I’m not ashamed to admit.

But I do feel the shame. Just like I feel the fright. You see, that is the key to life. You have to be in touch with your feelings. Otherwise, well, you get the kind of things that frighten battle hardened veterans of the worst life has to offer.

Here is a quote from my coteacher this past week “If you really care, you are fully aware. If you don’t care, you try to numb the senses.” That right there is the root cause of today’s problems. Americans have become comfortably numb, at least on the Gold Coast Beaches.

There is no other explanation for the sorts of things I saw today. Emotions were invented for a very good reason. They were put here to tell humans how to behave in public. It is that simple. But it seems the whole damn world has gone numb.

Mirrors, people. Emotions and mirrors. That is the ticket. Before you step out, look in a mirror. If what you see makes you feel shame, then by gosh don’t go outside like that. In high school I had a teacher who said “95% of the human race looks better with clothes on.” There are a few guys and gals who do belong on the beach in any clothing they deem apropos. These are the exception.

And by and large they were not at the beach today. Here is the thing. Spandex. Spandex is great for bike riders and Venice beach body builders. It is not ok for plumbers from Reseda. People, people, people. Spandex is pretty much the same as being naked. Yeah, its great when it clinging to a rippling chest of a weightlifter or the shapely thigh of a roller-blader. But not a pleasingly plump pedicurist.

Shame! Please, please, just get in touch with that feeling is all I’m saying. Do not “feel good” about yourself. DO NOT ACCEPT YOURSELF AND ALL YOUR FLAWS. They are unsightly and they scare people.

Consider canvas. Tarps. Something with more square yardage than you are bringing to the beach. When you see someone like me buzzing by, get off the path and freeze. I’ll think you are a vendor and ignore you. We will both be better for the experience.

I know you have disposable income! I get it! Use it wisely. The pierced belly button and tri color tat that graces your jiggly belly does not make you unique, at least not when I pass 20 of you in a row. C’mon. Would it kill you to do something that would make you really unique? A gym membership? I’d settle for liposuction. You see, I’m not being unreasonable here.

I feel your pain, I really do. I left this part of the America 10 years ago because it was just too boring. Perfect weather, great beaches, not too much traffic, the smog stayed in LA. Real estate prices were not bad. And one great restaurant after another. I can see how a person could slip into this lifestyle.

You are sitting at what is rated the best brunch in Ventura at JoannaFina’s. You have a couple of three servings of all the tasty goodness. It’s a champagne brunch, so you have a couple flutes. You my friend, are feeling good about life.

You step out into the brilliant sunshine and there it is, coming at you on a beach cruiser. Five foot two, eyes of blue and oh mama, the ripples upon ripples of Sunday brunches of years past. She parks her bike, you try, you really try to hold on to the brunch you just paid $20 for.

But you are a person who knows fear. You see the future my friend, and fear grips you. You are also a person who feels shame at what transpires next. After that very predictable event ends up on the shoes of the aforesaid biker, you then brace yourself for the worst. Yes, it's not easy what you have to do next, but you have to do it. You have to let your eyes traverse the area from the shoes to the eyes of this creature, screw up all your courage and with all the honesty you can muster say

“I think the Tamales are off this week.”

And then go on with the rest of your day as a

Solitary Man.

Any Comments?

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