Out & About

There's a great scene in Amy Heckerling's Clueless where Alicia Silverstone's character is talking with her friends at school about all the guys they know--about their sloppy clothes, their unkempt hair, their unshaven faces. They go on for a bit and then the camera cuts to a slo-mo shot of the guys in question, walking down the sidewalk, sloppy clothes, unkempt hair, and unshaven faces in full effect. They pretty much look like the coolest guys ever, and then the soundtrack kicks in: Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes." It's an electric moment, the kind Heckerling excels at.

Remember the scene in her Fast Times at Ridgemont High where Judge Reinhold is in the bathroom peeping through the window at Phoebe Cates? It's another slo-mo one: Cates is swimming in the pool in the backyard and we see her get out of the pool in her tiny two-piece and do that shake-the-water-out-of-the-hair thing that only dogs and women do. Then Reinhold starts masturbating and gets walked in on by Cates. If I remember correctly, Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" is playing during Cates' demonstration, making her look, just like the skater boys in Clueless, way cooler than she really is.

I'm sure there's a moment like this in Heckerling's new Loser, but I haven't seen it, probably because it was at the theaters for about two minutes. Then again, it stars Mena Suvari, who I don't really care for. But it does feature Jason Biggs, who I do really care for. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Saving Silverman, which wasn't directed by Heckerling but stars Biggs along with Amanda Peet, who I sometimes care for, and Jack Black, who is a mad genius. Point is, one of Heckerling's gifts is her ability to make you want to be her characters for a few minutes. The scene in Clueless totally made me wear my clothes sloppy, my hair unkempt, and my face unshaven for months. And the one in Fast Times at Ridgemont High absolutely convinced me to wear a tiny two-piece for a summer. She can also manufacture a cachet of cool for bands that wouldn't normally deserve it. Mott the Hoople, for instance. Or Jackson Browne. She can even do the same thing for bands that really don't deserve it. Like? Thin Lizzy, who for ages, I was convinced, did "All the Young Dudes."

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Mikael Wood