Yesterday I met up with a university friend and we relived our glory days by going to the cinema to do a movie double - something we have not found time to do since graduating but which we were able to do now because I am supposed to be revising and he has been made redundant. It was tough times for a while as he was let go just before Christmas, which adds to the horribleness of having to break the news to your family. However, he is back on his feet now and enjoying the last few days before he starts somewhere else. I did suggest however that we could take some tips from the French workers, famous for their uber-strong labour unions, and try some boss-napping but it all seemed a bit too strenuous so we stuck with our movies agenda.
The cinema we chose was in affluent Chelsea - a relatively small screen but the only one that was still showing the 2 movies we chose to watch. Movie tickets in my opinion are hugely overpriced (€13 a pop!) in London but we did get some cushioning on the chairs and the place was completely empty.
We kicked off with Vicky Cristina Barcelona - a vague nod to my impending Spanish adventure and also something I thought my friend would enjoy given the much hyped kissing scene between Penelope Cruz and Scarlet Johansson. To be honest, I think it was much more of a chic flick - 2 American girls come to Barcelona who are polar opposites in terms of what they want from love and relationships. Throw in some smouldering Mediterranean charm in the form of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz and watch how many ways you can combine the 4. Rather than a defined story with a beginning and an end, this is more like a snapshot in time when their lives happen to intersect - the 2 American girls have their views on love challenged and they explore new experiences but ultimately they stay the same - if that makes sense. An added bonus is that a chunk of the movie is filmed in Oviedo, in Asturias (North East Spain)which is the home town of my hero Fernando Alonso.
We moved straight on to an altogether darker, more sombre movie about a mean old war veteran who gets involved in the lives of his Hmong neighbours. There's no denying the racism that underlies the whole being of Gran Torino but I thought Clint Eastwood was great and he even managed to make me laugh out loud in what is a sad tale about the last white man and his prize Ford Gran Torino in a US neighbourhood that has been overtaken by Hmongs, refugees of the Vietnam war. Stern, racist and ostracised by his materialistic family, Clint Eastwood's character finds redemption through his relationship with the 15 year old boy next door. It's definitely one I would recommend to see.