Did I Miss Something?

Sunday, December 19th, 2004

North by Northwest was on TV this afternoon. It’s one of those classic films that when you stop and think about it you realise you’ve never seen. Actually, I think I have seen this many years ago as a child, or more likely I’ve seen so many spoofs of it and clips that I think I’ve seen it.

Anyway, I had planned to go to the gym this afternoon to be ritually humiliated by all the people who really don’t need to be there, and appalled by the lack of shame by those for whom it is far too late – both groups should be banned from wearing Lycra. It’s quite funny the place is called LA Fitness as it counjures up images of tanned and rippling bodies but it’s far from coming close (although in comparison to me, maybe that’s what everyone looks like).

But I thought what the hell, I haven’t vegged in front of a Sunday afternoon movie for years so why not?

It’s quite an impressive movie, well-directed (some English bloke I think…) and unexpectedly funny. The sequence where Cary Grant phones his mother had me laughing out loud. Great score too.

The colour palette of the film intrigued me – lots of greys. That got me wondering – was grey a fashionable colour in the US at the time? Or was it so that the few bright colours stood out more (colour films still being quite new)? Or was it so the film looked better in black and white? Or was it simply an art director’s choice? Whatever -it was quite stylish. The UN building looked spectacular, particularly the interior matte painting.

With commercials the film lasted two and a half hours, which is some commitment. Unlike a lot of films, my attention didn’t wane in the third act. I did get distracted as I tried to figure out who the President next to George Washington was on Mount Rushmore (Jefferson, I just found out).

But then it got to the final chase sequence on the monument, we get to the climax where Grant is calling for the baddie to help him climb up from the edge. It looks like he’s going to help but then he just treads on his fingers – and is shot. We cut to a crowd up at the top of the mountain where we hear VanDamme (presumably he’s been captured but it’s so quick you can’t tell) and then Grant leans down and says ‘Take my hand’ and there’s this cut to him and the heroine sitting on a train having been married. The end.

That’s it. Possibly the worst ending to a movie I’ve ever seen and such a disappointment… I can’t believe that’s how it was supposed to end. Very poor.

Oh well. I’m trying to see a lot of films over the next year. I don’t go to the cinema much (no fun on your own) so I’m a bit behind. I caught Goldmember, Hulk and The Core the other weekend thanks to the movie channel I’ve just subscribed to. All rather bad, I thought. I’d enjoyed the other Austin Powers movies, so was expecting better. Hulk – blimey, what happened there? Couldn’t make their mind up whether to be corny or serious, I think. And if I hadn’t just claimed North by Northwest to have the worst ending ever, I might give the accolade to Hulk. After all that chasing there’s a bang and then we’re in south America. Talking of Lycra, where did he get those super-stretchy shorts?

The Core – oh dear. So bad on many many levels, not least of which the physics (so this guy with no research grant has managed to invent a machine that slices through rock like a hot knife through butter and a metal that gets more resistant to heat the more pressure it’s under (and he calls it ‘unobtanium’)? I know this is science fiction but please…

A wuestion kept popping up in my mind. In this movie we see Rome get wiped out, killer pigeons in Londond, San Francisco gets melted (just after surviving attacks by the Green Goblin and The Hulk if I’m not mistaken – what with that and the San Andreas fault I’d suggest it’s not the best place to live, people). If memory serves, Paris got flattened in that movie with the asteroid. So what it is with natural disasters just happening to pick famous, densely populated places?

In my attempt to catch up with movies I really should have seen but don’t think I have I signed up for Amazon.co.uk’s DVD rental service. £7.99 for four DVDs a month and no return dates. It’s an attempt to save money as because I’m really bad at returning DVDs to libraries I often buy movies on DVD (it’s cheaper, believe me!) Oddly enough, rather than put all the classics on my list I’ve started with Shrek 2 and Spiderman 2. Well, it’s Christmas – I can be worthy in the new year.

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