Thursday, January 1, 2009

In Search of a Midnight Kiss or New Year's Eve Movie Marathon

My New Year's eve was spent flying back from Bombay to New York. I left at 1.30 pm on the 31st, changed planes in London, and flew into Newark. In Mumbai, I was told that my outgoing flight was delayed and that I would miss my connection. The airline, Virgin, transferred me to an earlier flight on Jet Airways, which would allow me to make my connection in London. One thing that Virgin and Jet Airways (India's second international airline, and the first private airline from India to fly internationally) share in common is an excellent on-demand video system in all classes of service. So I had a lot of films to choose from. The flight was 9 hours and 20 minutes. As they say in the movies, "you do the math": 9 hours / 2 hours = 4 films.

First up was, "Vicky, Christina, Barcelona", by Woody Allen that I had missed in the cinema. It's as good a Woody Allen film as you'll see these days. Next up, "Mes amis, mes amours", a fine illustration of the fact that French cinema can be as clich├ęd as Hollywood, yet be more stylish. Number 3 was "How to Marry a Millionaire" -- a classic, not much more need be said (though as an aside, I love films set in New York where I get to see street scenes). By then I had exhausted all the films I really wanted to see, so opted for "Hellboy 2". I can hear the eyes rolling out there (if you'll permit me to mix my metaphors). In my defense, it is directed by Guillermo del Toro, but that's pretty much all I can say. Indeed, I fell asleep at some point and didn't bother to try to see the rest of it.

I landed in Heathrow and sprinted through security to make my connection. Fortunately, I'm well trained in the 2k terminal dash and had time to spare. Even more fortunately, I discovered an upgrade, a warm shower, two glasses of champagne, and a friendly bartender waiting for me. (I like to believe it was the dignity with which I conducted myself at Mumbai while negotiating my rebooking that led them to upgrade me -- more realistically I think it was the miles I logged last year on my London-New York runs -- no matter, take the upgrade and run).

I had hoped to see at least two more films on the second flight, and with 7 hours it should have been possible. But I was so tired. But I didn't want to sleep (all part of the anti-jetlag strategy). I spent most of the flight dozing and fighting sleep. I did manage to watch "In Search of a Midnight Kiss", a charming, low-budget black and white film from last year. It's about a down-and-out would-be screenwriter looking for a spark of hope on New Year's Eve. He puts up a personal ad under the heading "Misanthrope looking for misanthrope". A girl calls in, and, well, it goes from there.

This was tricky viewing matter for me, given that I was probably going to spend my New Year's in the airport at Newark or in a cab on the way to Manhattan. But we landed 40 minutes early at 10.50 pm (winds be praised!) I had exchanged e-mails with my friend Till from Bombay and knew that he and his girlfriend were planning a quiet New Year's -- hoping to catch the fireworks from an uptown office building where Till works -- and had kindly invited me along -- if I could make it. I was out by 11 pm. My car service took only two minutes to arrive. At 11.15, I was entering the Holland Tunnel. At 11.30, I was at my apartment dropping off my computer and picking up a hat, because it was -7C outside. At 11.54, I met up with Till and Julia, and at 11.59 we were on the roof in blistering wind, with a half-bottle of ice-cold champagne, and in excellent company. The fireworks in the distance were wonderful.

There’s something magical about seeing fireworks but not hearing them. It makes you feel like you're in space looking down on earth - you can feel the cold, you can see, but you can't hear. But also (yes Till -- here goes my attempt at greeting-card philosophizing) it makes you feel like you are looking at arm's length on your life. You too are now a witness to the year's trials, tribulations, joys, and triumphs. You are a character in a play that you co-wrote, but where there were other actors reading from their own script. I would say that all in all 2008 was a good year; it had many surprises, many transitions, but I would have to say that it was also a year in which I was reacting to events as they occurred. There was no grand plan, no resolutions, no roadmap. It's not that I have any of those for this year. But having aged another year, it's not that I feel old, but I do feel that I have glimpsed the curvature of life. The earth is not flat, nor is life, nor is time, though it is easy from moment to moment, from step to step to feel that it is.

So for 2009, I have no grand plan, but in addition to living well, thinking well, and feeling well, I hope to find some hint of the path ahead.

Wish you all the very best for 2009!



Doc said...

Damn! I was hoping you were going to call me... Doc

Lola Is Beauty said...

**happy new year BB** I too have seen In Search of a Midnight Kiss but alas, I did not find it charming in the least! Lola says happy new year - I think that's what she's saying...

Anonymous said...

What a great post.
Other than giving me a detailed insight of your plane hopping habits (yes, I've often wondered how you manage all that travelling and for the record, yes, I'm jealous), it also struck a beautiful lyrical/philosphical note about watching fireworks from a distance. Beautiful AND useful.
Thank you, BB!

Bombay Beauty said...

Doc - er, many thanks?

Lola - but if you see it on New Year's Eve with a few glasses of champagne already pumped into you, any film that ends sweetly, albeit saccharine-sweetly is a plus. Happy New Year to you & Lola.

Mia - Many thanks! I'm actually in San Francisco now, alas not pleasure travel. The key to travel for me is to fight sleep, though this could also be said to be the key to partying, or to life! Hope you had a magnificent New Year's...



Anonymous said...

ah yes...i do love missing a film at the cinema and then paying a 1000$ to see it on a plane...seems special huh?!
but thank you for always being so eloquent in your writing..i could not have expressed it better myself!! (mm, is it safe to say...i smell a book deal in 2009??!!)
and yes...i feel that 2009 will be fabulous...(i corrected a hair-cut today, rather a very cute boy Sebastien did...) new hair do and i would love to say: happy new year and make it a fabulous one!!!

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