From the Head

| June 19, 2013

Breaking Glass Picture’s new release is a movie called From the Head, which examines the life of a men’s room attendant named Shoes. It’s New York City in 1995, and Shoes works in a strip joint that is always busy with men from all walks of life trying to forget their troubles with booze and broads. As they come into the men’s room, Shoes, who is celebrating a three-year anniversary, is there as a sort of therapist. Everyone has a story of guilt or whatever, and Shoes tells them what they want to hear—all in an attempt to get the biggest tips possible.

You watch as man after man comes into the bathroom, and while some leave tips, they all have to at least speak to the man who is at the ready with the soap dispenser and hand towel. Shoes gives advice, compliments or a sympathetic ear to all that warrant it. Spread out on the bathroom sink is an assortment of colognes and candies, which are available to anyone who wants them. Shoes, however, prefers that the men leave a tip, if they are going to take anything. What doesn’t amaze him anymore is that many men will come into the bathroom and relieve themselves, without washing their hands, all the while talking about how they are in love with one stripper or another.

Shoes is unnerved because too many people are coming into the bathroom and noting that it is his anniversary—some wondering why he is still there. He gets to thinking himself that maybe he should move on. But I suppose he is also wondering to what he would move.

The movie is based on the real life story of writer-director-star George Griffith, and is centered primarily in the men’s room. At one point the women’s bathroom is out of commission, and Shoes so diplomatically works it so that the women can use the men’s room, without worry or without feeling any encroachment from the men. At first, you sort of want to feel sorry for Shoes, since he has to basically stand eight hours in the men’s room, while they use the urinals or go into the toilet stalls, or even come to vomit on the floor.

But after a while of hearing the sad sob stories of the customers, you know that Shoes is, in fact, on the better end of the deal. There are regulars who come to the strip joint, many of whom think they are in love with the pole dancers. They are too stupid to realize that the strippers are, also, telling them what they want to hear, in order to get the better tips. Also, Shoes doesn’t have to exert himself much to do his job. And he makes good tips most of the time.

So the entire façade of the strip joint is a fantasy at best. The movie is brilliantly played out in the men’s room, without the viewer ever seeing the area where the women dance. But the conversations between Shoes and the male customers alone make for interesting dialogue. From the Head stars Matthew Lillard, Samantha Lemole, Ahna O’Reilly, Jon Polito and George Griffith as Shoes, and is due out on DVD on July 2 and available on VOD on June 14.  Visit

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
Filed in: Video and DVD

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