Sunday, March 27, 2005

do you like getting your blah blahed?

Just finished watching Bob Fosse's Lenny from 1974. Wow. I knew a little about Lenny Bruce from AX, but not much; mostly I had a vague sense of a trash-talking Jewish guy with a drug problem who ended badly.

Besides the fact that this has to be the first Fosse film I've seen without any dancing (unless you count the introduction of "Hot Honey Harlow" at the beginning, and I'm not sure I do--no disrespect to the wonderful Valerie Perrine, who was in fact a stripper before she was an actress, but when I think Fosse and dancing, I think clump, which was a big thing of his and completely beside the point and mostly a self-aggrandizing digression to show off that I know something about dancing), I was really impressed with this film. Dustin Hoffman was hot in 1974, can I get a witness? Clean-shaven in tight jeans and boots? Girlfriend.

But more than that, everyone's so dimensional. What went wrong between Lenny and Honey wasn't her fault and it wasn't his; they were both flawed and hurting and struggling. There's nothing easy or pat in the portrayal of either character. The beginning of the affair is real and sexy and sweet--there's a moment where he's gone to Miami to see her and left a note for her in her hotel room, and when she realizes that he's there, she says, he's here with a simple, girlish excitement that totally sells the moment. Ditto his monologues--the ones before he found his style (painful to watch), the ones from the period when he was really smoking hot, and finally the ones where he just got up and read the transcripts of his trials, railing against the system and boring his audience.

The title of this post is taken from a monologue he delivers after having been busted for using the word "cocksucking" in a performance. He explains to the audience that he got arrested for a word he's not going to use, a word eleven letters long with a C at the beginning and a G at the end--and then he does this whole great bit where he has members of the audience raising their hands if they've ever had their blah blahed, and whether they liked it. I'm not doing it justice. It's brilliant. Get it and see for yourself.

Now I need to get Switchblade Sisters, one of the two films featuring his daughter Kitty. Which was, coincidentally, re-released in '96 by Quentin Tarantino, who is 42 today.