Although it starts out funny, the movie ultimately is a drama — and a smart, incisive one at that. While a couple of the supporting performances aren’t up to the level of the leads, Merriman nails the misery of dorm life (an oxymoron too many). I want to see more from him and his co-writer, director Ryan Gielen, even if they dredged up some depressing memories in the process.
“Depressing” really qualifies to From the Head, writer/director George Griffith’s film based on his days working as a men’s room attendant in New York City strip clubs. Starring as Shoes, which one assumes is himself, Griffith stands guard over the sinks and urinals, dispensing advice, jokes, toiletries and an ear to the various lowlifes catching a piss before heading to the VIP room.
With customers coming in and out (Matthew Lillard and Jon Polito among them, to lend name value and energy), not to mention the occasional stripper (plumbing issues; don’t ask), From the Head very much feels like a filmed play. Whereas Drinking Games is based on stage work, it better translates its tale to the screen; Griffith’s is served flat, bubbling up only every so often, most notably with every appearance of Saw VI‘s Samantha Lemole, who displays a gift for effervescence. I’d rather see a film just about her character, because Shoes sure can grate, but it’s an admirable first try. —Rod Lott