Sunday, 20 June 2010

New York, New York

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is not a film that had come across my (admittedly rather book-filled) radar recently, but on Saturday night, casting around rather desperately for something to watch post-Doctor Who, I found it and was enthralled to such an extent that I actually shouted at the television screen, which is not something I do regularly (except when it's University Challenge and I know the answer).

The story itself is simple, the vicissitudes of a pair of hipster kids in New York city who spend a night trying to find a band and each other. It was charming and refreshing. And what really made it was not only the cityscapes, with those metallic, minatory towers spiking the skyline; nor the sleepy, monotoned Michael Cera; but also Kat Dennings, who, I have decided, is basically the most beautiful girl in the world, and sweet and funny and intelligent to boot. Her presence was luminous. More from her, please, and why have I never seen her in anything before? It also set me to thinking how hard it would be to make such a film in London. You would immediately have the class problem (which, though Nick is 'bridge and tunnel' and Norah a Jewish 'princess', doesn't seem to matter so much as they have the same tastes and accents). And London just doesn't look so cool at night. The metropolis at midnight conjures up scenes of ladettes vomiting outside Leicester Square tube, not cool indie types jumping in and out of taxis. And somehow, Nick and Norah made even drunkenness look cool: Norah's drunk friend popping out of a Christmas tree at a gay version of the Nativity (long story) was priceless, and one couldn't help but loving her, despite her total trollyedness. So that's a challenge: to make a hip, funny, unpretentious film set in London. Let's do it!

In literary terms, it has been a lackadaisical week: I have read most of John Updike's last book of short stories, and found them (mostly) mesmerising; although one story, in which an old man (and in this collection, they are all old men) goes back to his home town and then to a country club to have dinner with some old friends, I did find myself slightly flicking to see how many pages there were left. But on the whole, elegiac and effective.

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