2012 Movie #85 - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
After working a long day at the office on Friday, Jess and I decided to see an 11:40pm showing of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square in Central London. We picked up our £18.10 tickets (for my American friends, that’s about $28 a ticket). Because we were in the theater early we were forced to listen to a few songs from the dreadful Rock of Ages soundtrack that was piped in for our “enjoyment.” We then treated to twenty minutes of commercials, which at this point I know from memory because it’s the same commercials you’re forced to watch in front of every movie in London.
- A bad cross-promotion for M&M candy and Snow White and the Huntsman (which used to be a bad cross-promotion for M&M candy and The Avengers and I’m sure will be a bad cross-promotion for M&M and some other blockbuster in a few weeks).
- A bad cross-promotion for The Expendables 2, Orange (the cellphone company), and James Buckley (a British comedy actor from the hit tv-show and movie The Inbetweeners).
- A bad commercial for Wispa chocolate bars where it basically tells the audience that we’ll never accomplish anything great with our lives, but it’s OK because we can eat all Wispa chocolate bars.
- This great commercial for the Chevy Aveo (it’s the Chevy Sonic in the US, but the Chevy Aveo in England for some reason).
- A commercial about how wonderful the English film industry is, which is mostly made up of footage from American movies that have English actors.
- An anti-piracy commercial that shows a full movie theater of people who start to dissolve into dust, and then basically implies that pirates are responsible for turning people into dust. A compelling argument, but I’m not sure if it’s based on much factual evidence.
Then the movie happened.
It was around 2am when we emerged from the theater into Leicester Square. The square gets its name from Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, who built his private residence next to the common-land used by the local parishiners. He closed off Leicester Square to make a private garden, but in the mid-1600s the parishiners of St Martin in the Fields appealed to King Charles I to keep the land public as a shared common resource, and Leicester Square was born.
Today Leicester Square is the home of overpriced movie theaters, nightclubs, casinos, fast-food restaurants, a huge store selling M&M merchandise, and discount theater ticket vendors.
And so at 2am on a Friday night we emerged into this historic common space, now filled with drunken revelers and noxious club promoters. The modern parishiners of Leicester Square form a human hedge-maze where the hedges stare lecherously at your girlfriend, chant unintelligible football songs, or try to convince you to buy overpriced alcohol at their establishment.
Wielding my umbrella like a machete, we forced our way to Picadilly Circus where we joined the throngs of clubland expatriates trying to find a taxi home. This proved to be impossible, as the human detritus of London swarmed any black cab with a light like moths to a candle. A young couple who just met in a nightclub decide to go separate ways, sobered by the thought of spending the next hour trying to find a cab together.
The winged nude statue of Anteros looks down from his pedestal in Picadilly Circus. Alfred Gilbert’s The Angel of Christian Charity was built in 1893 to commemorate the philanthropic works of Lord Shaftesbury, who is now best known as the namesake of Shaftesbury Ave, the street where I can’t find a taxi at 2:15am on a Friday night.
Alfred Gilbert chose Anteros as the subject of his statue, as Anteros is the Greek god of requited love. Gilbert felt the joy of reciprocal and selfless love represented the philanthropy of Shaftesbury. Today most Londoners think the statue is actually of Anteros’s brother Eros, the god of unrequited love. And as I see the masses of lonely people in a desparate search for late-night companionship, I hope it’s still Anteros on that pedestal and not his selfish brother. Surely these people deserve a happiness that will last longer than the time it’s taking me to find a cab.
It’s 2:40am when we give up on finding a taxi and begin the curving walk down Regent Street towards Oxford Circus where I know there’s a late-night bus that can take us home. As each cab comes down the road, I swing my umbrella in the air for attention, but they’re all full. A drunken woman screams at us as her sober friend dutifully carries her down the street leaving apologies in their wake. One thought keeps echoing in my mind: “At least it’s not raining.”
Jess and I run to the bus-stop as we catch our first break of the night. It’s 2:55am and we hop on the N98 just as the doors are closing, and manage to find two unoccupied seats. We are enveloped by the soothing white-noise of people chatting in all the languages of the world. More than any other city I’ve lived in, London is a true cosmopolis. And in the middle of the night it’s comforting to sit on a double-decker bus eavesdropping on romantic whispers in foreign tongues.
We get home around 3:25am and I tell Jess that I don’t want to watch midnight movies in Leicester Square anymore.