Last night, I watched American Beauty for the fourth time since 1999. As on all my viewings, I loved Ricky Fitts, for almost comically Neo-Objectivist (read "dogmatic radical for hippie happiness") reasons; Ricky is the most deeply heroic teenage male character ever put to film. This time, though, I also loved Lester Burnham -- and I've never done that before. Perhaps I'm getting older.
American Beauty's red rose petals suggest dreamy visions of bliss. Steamy visions of pure love. Crushworthy passion.
If cinema has produced any dream sequences that universally suggest those things, then those red rose petals are right up there.
Today, I will finish rereading A Man In Full. Its main themes involve "what it means to be a man" in all the best stereotypical senses. A confident, perennially assertive, powerfully gestering, stoic even while charming, self-directed, dramatically risk-taking, physically imposing/impressive human being. One character, Ray Peepgass, starts the story as a fearful & weak-willed middle manager in a superficially comfortable life. Ray's life is in fact falling apart. Things are so bad for Ray, moreover, that he has no incentive to keep his current job or anything else in his life; his world is just not sustainable, so he has to find a new one. Rather than fall even farther, Ray reaches for a brass ring. For the first time in 20 years. He takes a stab at unambiguous success. A very calculated, very dangerous, biologically confident stab -- and it's a beautiful thing.
In his own words, Ray is "letting the red dog off the leash." We get to hear a lot of his inner dialogue on all this.
The next time the external world hands you a vision of pure possibilities that makes you want to dramatically change yourself to hook up with it, perhaps you will spin those red petals to let your red dog off its leash...