In-n-Out, by Chase Beck
Shoes (writer/director George Griffith) works as a bathroom attendant in a strip-club. His goal is to be just clever and polite enough to get a sizable tip from every man who sets foot into his tile-lined kingdom. It’s a living, and Shoes has been doing it for three years now, a fact which, tonight, nobody will let him forget.
The whole film takes place within this bathroom, or just outside of it, over the course of a single Saturday night shift. From the Head is a revolving series of short conversations as customers walk into Shoes’ domain, share a little (or a lot), leave a little, and take a little. Some of the men show up just once, and only for a few seconds, while others linger or keep returning for more. Shoes offers an invaluable service: advice, but he’s wise enough to know that few want to hear what he has to say and even fewer will take note of his counsel. He’s also been doing this long enough to know not to give away his pearls of wisdom for free.
Nothing much of note actually happens in the film. All in all, it seems like a standard Saturday night in a popular strip club (or so I’ve heard). That’s not to say that I wasn’t immediately drawn into the film. The dialogue is quick and catchy and conversations are delightfully natural. There’s very little forced exposition and what information is conveyed to the audience feels genuine in a way that few films manage to capture.
This film has lots of bit parts and even a few familiar faces. I was delighted to see one of my favorites, James Urbaniak, make an appearance, playing what has become more or less his standard: creepy guy. Not being able to place where I’ve seen Clint Culp before is going to keep me awake for at least a few minutes every night for the next week. Let me just say, I relate to his character more than anyone else in this film and I attribute that to Culp’s short but nuanced performance. The industry is about taking advantage of people and, in my opinion, that’s never more expertly portrayed than with Culp’s character.
Griffith deftly captures the seediness and desperation of the occupation and its customers. Repeat viewings are helpful in following the stories of the multiple characters who leave the bathroom and only return several scenes later to continue their abbreviated story lines. Perhaps that would be my biggest complaint with From the Head. So many people come and go, as they would in real life, that you don’t know whom you are going to see again and it can be hard to keep track of it all. But then, that perfectly captures the nature of the business. Shoes has an advantage over the audience though as he can quickly sort regulars and co-workers from the stream of people entering the lavatory while we as an audience have to wait to be told. Still, there’s nothing wrong with a movie that challenges you to pay attention.
All in all, it works. The film is about Shoes and Griffith delivers. It’s a solid, well-written piece. The film is 95 crisp minutes long and stars George Griffith, Matthew Lillard, and Jeffrey Doornbos. Be it writing, directing, acting, or a combination of the three; I recommend that you be on the lookout for what Griffith does next.