Friday, September 17, 2010

Preliminary treatment for an untitled film

It is a dusty dawn. No people are walking the beach. It’s too foggy. Long stretches of grass like the unkempt hair of balding hobos spill out against curtains of grey. Lifeguard towers guard the unutilized sandy space against further emptiness. Everything is movement but we are not arriving.

Ventura is a funny little college town without a college. The downtown strip is lined with thrift stores and restaurants that don’t serve lunch. Blue parking meters stand out front of the closed businesses like modern art sculptures. Sex shops put on vulgar window displays under self-consciously ambiguous business names. Everything is layered in a false sense of modesty and exaggerated humility.

Vagrants bang on guitars and hold up accusing signs, assuming a moral superiority over their guilted patrons. They hang around the grocery stores and take turns begging for money at the edge of parking lots. Sometimes they have dogs with them. Sometimes they have children. Sometimes they yell at each other and stick out their chests.

California builds their highways so wide and it is difficult to imagine them congested with traffic because at times, they are empty. When it is sixty degrees, people think it is cold out and they hide away indoors in their beds with their lovers.

Our film settles into the claustrophobic safety nest of a young couple, spending a lazy mid-afternoon lying on top of the sheets and looking at each other. We are the voyeurs of this intimate setting, watching the young couple kiss and run their fingers through the other’s hair. And touching at the hips. And crossed over at the thigh. And moving the other’s elbow.

He brings out a rolled cigarette, lights it, and passes it to her.

In the Goddard fashion, we arrive at the conversation mid-conversation. The couple talks about their frustrations of not fitting in and trying to rise above their insincere and mundane surroundings.

He is frustrated with friends and people who are pretending to be people they are not. She picks up on the irony and explains to him that he too, is pretending to be someone he is not. He says she is right to a point, but he is only acting in hopes that one day he can fill new shoes.

She laments that there is no authenticity in the world and that everything is just dust anyway.

He says she has a lousy attitude. Her nihilism is so unfashionable.

She insists she is right. Truth is classic and immune to trends. It is not cliché but a commonly accepted truth.

He disguises his indigence by praising her for her sweet submissive qualities.

She dodges his phony kisses. He doesn’t realize that his kisses are fake. She says she does not judge him. All people say one thing and mean something different.

As it becomes apparent that our young couple would much prefer to use their lips for kissing than for talking, we turn to look at the window, half out of reverence but mostly we are bored with our voyeurism.

Abruptly, we are thrust into the drunken small town bar scene of downtown Ventura. Sound is abrasive and video is choppy and we blink to black.