Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Night in London

“You’re going to see a film?” said the cabbie incredulously.  “You are in London for 3 days and you are going to see a film? You can do that anywhere.”  His grizzled yet grandfatherly face looked outraged .

I gave him a sheepish smile and replied, “It’s an independent movie that isn’t showing in Texas.”
He let out a loud exasperated breath, “If I went to America, I wouldn’t spend my time at the cinema!”
I couldn’t think of a good argument.  I was traveling with two other people (whose names have been changed so they won’t kill me), one of whom was a huge fan of Robert Pattinson.  When she heard that the movie would be out in theaters during our three days in London, she informed us that we would be going to see it, come hell or high water.  The “film” in question was Cosmopolis, an art house film directed by David Cronenberg.  The latter being a very important fact that I was ignorant of at the time, but that I will not soon forget.
The cabbie dropped us off near Barclay’s Bank, at the eastern edge of Leicester Square, still trying to convince us to do something more worthwhile with our evening.
“Have you been to Claridge’s?  The Oiler Bar?  Picadilly Circus?”
But our mission, to indulge Madge’s enthusiastic support of Robert Pattinson’s career, was clear.  We, Abby, Madge, and I, trudged our way past fish and chip shops and wine bars, through the crowds of lost tourists and fashionable British teenagers, right up to the ticket window at the Odeon Cinema.
“There are only four other people here,” I whispered when we arrived in the nearly empty screening room.  We should have taken it as the first sign of trouble, but Abby and I were seasoned independent moviegoers and were used to watching great movies in an almost empty theater, so we settled into our seats.
I’m sort of a pseudo movie nerd.  I love watching films, but I never remember details like directors and their styles and their movie credits.  Abby, on the other hand, is a veritable encyclopedia of movie trivia.
“Who is the director?,” Abby asked casually as we waited for the movie to start.
I was just tagging along on this adventure, so I turned to Madge and repeated the question.
“David Cronenberg,” was her equally casual answer.
Abby gave a soft gasp, “Cronenberg! Oh no!”
The lights went down.
Packer, the billionaire title character played by Robert Pattinson, needed to get to his barber on the other side of Manhattan and was willing to let his chauffeur deal with the traffic created by a visit from the President in order to get there.
He got into his limo with a friend and started wondering where limos go at night when no one is using them.  It was about this time that the first couple walked out.
Packer then got into a taxi with his wife, who told him that she rides taxis in order to understand where the little people come from.  He replied, “They come from horror and despair.”
Abby and I looked over at Madge, but she doggedly stared at the screen.
Packer wondered why airports are called airports.
Abby and I looked at each other and giggled.
“This is going to be a long movie,” she whispered.
We were the only ones left in the room.
I went to the concession stand and bought ice cream.  It took almost twenty minutes for the girl at the ice cream counter get to me, which didn’t bother me at all.
I got back to my seat just in time to watch Packer get a prostate exam in his limo while having a business meeting/flirting session with a woman in jogging shorts.
“Does she really like this?” Abby leaned over and whispered in my ear.
I leaned over to Madge.
“Do you like this movie?” I asked.
She smiled, “No, but we’re not leaving.”
Packer continued his trek to the barber shop, getting biblical with assorted women, engaging in business deals, dealing with protesters swinging rats at his limo, discussing the meaning of life, of capitalism, and of being the 1%, and eventually losing everything.
At the end of the movie, Packer was being stalked by an assassin.
My one and only thought was, “Shoot him, please, shoot him, so that the movie will end.”
It was a long movie, and I’m not referring to the running time, but it was one of the funniest film experiences that Abby, Madge, and I have ever had.  We will always remember that one night in London that we spent admiring Robert Pattinson.
Still, if you  ever have three nights to spend in one of the world’s great cities, don’t go to the cinema and if you do, definitely don’t watch a Cronenberg film.