The Experience of The Girlfriend Experience and a Baseball Story

“See it with someone you fuck” was the motto, but unfortunately, I couldn’t oblige.

I had to see Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience for my job blogging at this other site, but even graduated, I’d still failed to graduate some things, and held on to both my antiquated Facebook page and my assertion that I don’t see movies alone.

I was surprised then when I managed to storm up a crowd to go see the movie.

“Girlfriend Experience? High-class-hooker? Enough. That sounds a-mazing.” My friend Najia told me, with enthusiasm she would later revoke upon seeing the film’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Even good-man-Ohioan, Mike Sweeny managed to make it out despite his usual bouts of reclusion, which led to a conversation over whether he was a stoner.

“I’d buy weed from you.” One of my friends commented sizing him up.

Which led to no end of frustration on Mike’s part since as part of his vegetarian lifestyle and creative expression he had decided to forgo drugs.

“You’ve got what I’ve got, man.” I told him. “Stoner-looking-syndrome. Hooded eyes, crazy hair–a propensity for ironic t-shirts.”

“I bought this at Housing Works!” Mike protested.

“Even worse.” I said, shaking my head.

The movie passed quickly–it was only 77 minutes–and was much less graphic/sexual than I expected for a film about a prostitute starring a prominent porn star.

As for porn stars, I did some “research” as I’d never heard of her before and didn’t really know what was so special about her that she merited a starring role in a Soderbergh movie.

Aside:

Later in the evening, when we discussed the film, one friend mentioned that he watched the Tyra Banks show she was on to research who she was.

“Yeah.” I told him. “I just watched the porn.”

End Aside.

Anyway, my interview and some thoughts on the film should be up soon at FilmLinc, but I thought I might as well take some time here to explain a little more about my thoughts.

As I mentioned there, I thought the film was sort of “Steven Soderbergh does French New Wave” and I thought that was interesting for what it was, even though the last time I talked about Soderbergh it was to say how shitty of a director I thought he was before blacking out.

I thought Sasha Grey was no Anna Karina or Brigitte Bardot acting-wise, but she was a passable stand-in. Her direction seemed to be constantly, “be blank, be unknowable” and it was one she signed on to enthusiastically. But, unlike more experienced actresses like Chloe Sevigny or Michelle Williams, she doesn’t know how to make something happen beneath that.

Sometime I thought though that her very lack of a nuanced performance, her un-Bardot-ness, was a commentary on the shallowness of our age, an example of the societal atrophy between Godard’s time and ours, as symbolized in the rest of the film by the brash materialism of the characters.

But then I decided that that was probably giving too much credit to the director for what was most likely a semi-awkward first-performance.

If anyone does get a chance to see the movie (and I don’t mean to plug too much), they really should check out Glenn Kenny, who’s pretty much the best part of the film.

“This is the best part of the film.” Najia said, nudging me in the theater.

Indeed, his character “Glenn” is such a skeeze and his lines are delivered with such tentative loathing that it sounds like he’s both ashamed and gleeful when he blurts them out his mouth like an oral diaharrea.

When we hear him in voiceover reviewing the protagonist’s coerced sexual experience with him like he was reviewing a movie by Uwe Boll, the experience is both queasy, hilarious and bewildering to imagine the power of the internet and the influence of nefarious bloggers in a post-journalistic age.

It makes me think: Why can’t I be one of those?

🙂

***

I’ll take some time to comment on something I don’t know much about: Baseball.

In high school my only experience with baseball, as I’ve told others before, is jumping from the mound upon the pitch because I was certain, certain that that ball was going to hit me dead in the face, break my glasses, glass in my eye, glass eye, eternal scorn and ruination and what more I’d never have a girlfriend, et-cetera.

One at bat wasn’t worth it.

But in college, I ended up living with a Yankees fan who introduced me to Baseball not as the sport of jocks-and-monsters, but as something profoundly nerdly, the statistical wet-dream of the post-D+D crowd. This view was only abetted by the class I took in college with John Sexton, “Baseball as a Road to God”, which even considered baseball as a religion, though during that class I treated it more like a religion than the game itself.

Anyway, John Weeke, my Yankees-fan roommate would bring me to baseball games and try to inculcate me with some Yankees-fan values, some of which I absorbed and some of which I didn’t–It didn’t help that my two dates I had in Yankee Stadium involved inappropriate tickling, and a failed-make-out-attempted stoked by “Olde Crow” Whiskey.

That said I found some sanctum in what my roommate used to call the us-versus-them mentality, a way of “rooting for your team against the other guy” whether that team be the Yankees or the Jews or the Americans or the Film Students or what-have-you versus the rest of the world, it was interesting pointing out how that identification breeds a sense of comfort and community.

John’s big thing about it was that he thought that we needed an alien invasion to come together “as a team”, in order to unite the world as one. I just thought the Yankees were cool.

While I can think critically about many of those connections, given the academic tools I’ve unpacked to job-less but intellectual effect, there is one that seems rooted in me from my time at Yankee Stadium: an intense hatred of Boston.

It doesn’t help that many of the Bostonians I met while trolling around the area in summers were boorish (and I know the same could be said about New Yorkers), but the insane devotion they show to their teams–“Win or lose–we still riot.” One Bostonian friend put it–seemed almost monstrous like something out of 300.

Better root for the Spartans. Better root for the Yanks.

So that said, on a controversial note: God Bless the Metropolitans.

I tell everyone that I’ll cheer for any team from New York (another “team identity” in itself), but those Mets have been paying it off for the Yankees, in our embarassingly swept series, and giving some pride back to New York.

I always liked them for hiring Ricky Henderson, whose baseball card I once owned as a mascot given to me by a friend who offered him to me with at a Magic-card tournament with the admonishment:

“Take him. He’s Ricky Henderson. He’s on more drugs then anyone else.”

And that stuck with me.

So I’ll cheer for the Mets and talk about baseball for a bit.

But don’t think I’ll make a habit of it.

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2 Responses to The Experience of The Girlfriend Experience and a Baseball Story

  1. Mouhanad says:

    I saw The Girlfriend Experience today.
    It is great!
    I hope you read my review on my blog Not Sure…

    http://mouhanad.wordpress.com/

    Mouhanad.

  2. curieux says:

    Please check-out Pietrobruno’s GFE: GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE. You might find the film (and the interview link below) interesting.

    INTERVIEW:
    http://www.toromagazine.com/?q=node/1606

    SYNOPSIS:
    A man obsessed with prostitutes discovers that love is a lot more expensive than sex. A peek into the world of prostitution from the client’s point of view. Movies often portray sex-workers, but their customers remain well hidden – faceless and nameless. Pietrobruno’s GFE: Girlfriend Experience calls attention to this bias, at the same time as it shifts the cinematic gaze onto the client.

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