2012 Movies #166-172

  • Les Miserables
  • Jack Reacher
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Django Unchained
  • Total Recall (2012)
  • Push
  • Sound of My Voice

And so my final tally for 2012 is 172 movies… Honestly, I was hoping to get over 200, but I think this isn’t a bad showing.

2012 Movies #141 - 165

  • The Road Warrior
  • The Master
  • Umbrellas of Cherbourg
  • Step Brothers
  • Evil Dead 2
  • Great Expectations (2012)
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Indie Game The Movie
  • Hobo With A Shotgun
  • Skyfall
  • Miami Connection
  • Babe
  • West Side Story
  • The Red Shoes
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Back to the Future
  • Frankenstein (1931)
  • Lincoln
  • Back to the Future 2
  • Back to the Future 3
  • Secret Documentary At Sundance 2013
  • Alien 3
  • The Hobbit (2D - 24fps)
  • The Campaign
  • Life of Pi (3D - Atmos sound)

My favorites amongst the bunch (in screening order) were The Road Warrior, The Master, Evil Dead 2, Indie Game The Movie, Babe, West Side Story, The Red Shoes, and Back to the Future.

I’ve become really terrible at blogging about each film as I see it, and I’m trying to evaluate whether I should keep blogging about the films I watch in 2013. As a reader of this blog, please let me know what you think. Is it even of interest to anyone?

SKYFALL TREMORS PREDATOR WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY

2012 Movies #136 - 140

  • Skyfall (2012)
  • confidential submission
  • Tremors (1990)
  • Predator (1987)
  • Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009)

I can’t talk about the confidential submission, but I loved the other four films I watched since my last film2012 blog post.

Skyfall is by far my favorite Bond film, and if I wasn’t out with the flu all of last week I would have already seen it a second time in theaters.

Predator is another case where I was convinced I had seen the film as a kid, and realized a couple minute into the film that I had only imagined watching the film. On a side note, is it really weird that I keep imagining that I’ve seen R-rated films from the 1980s? My memory seems to be full of imaginary versions of R-rated movies.

As an animation fan, Waking Sleeping Beauty was delightful to watch. I was already well versed on the business aspects of that period of Disney’s history, mostly from John Taylor’s 1987 book Storming the Magic Kingdom. However, it was great to see it all told from the perspective of people who worked for Disney Animation. I hope one day soon we’ll see another golden age of Disney traditional animation.

2012 Movie #135 - Frankenweenie (2012)
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Frankenweenie. I haven’t been a big fan of Tim Burton’s recent work, but Frankenweenie felt like a return to the strange heart I loved in his earlier films. In particular, I was delighted by a lot of the scene writing by John August. I wasn’t enamored with some of the choices made in the mid-section of the film, but the beginning and end are so strong that those problems are easy to forgive. High-res

2012 Movie #135 - Frankenweenie (2012)
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Frankenweenie. I haven’t been a big fan of Tim Burton’s recent work, but Frankenweenie felt like a return to the strange heart I loved in his earlier films. In particular, I was delighted by a lot of the scene writing by John August. I wasn’t enamored with some of the choices made in the mid-section of the film, but the beginning and end are so strong that those problems are easy to forgive.

2012 Movie #134 - Ninotchka (1939)
I’m slowly working my way through the Ernst Lubitsch catalog after my revelatory experience watching To Be Or Not To Be. Ninotchka is considered one of his best, and I have to agree. The film was delightful, and has one of the best on-screen character transformations I’ve seen in Greta Garbo’s performance as Ninotchka.

The only sad thing about watching a film like Ninotchka is realizing just how crappy modern romantic-comedies have become. High-res

2012 Movie #134 - Ninotchka (1939)
I’m slowly working my way through the Ernst Lubitsch catalog after my revelatory experience watching To Be Or Not To Be. Ninotchka is considered one of his best, and I have to agree. The film was delightful, and has one of the best on-screen character transformations I’ve seen in Greta Garbo’s performance as Ninotchka.

The only sad thing about watching a film like Ninotchka is realizing just how crappy modern romantic-comedies have become.

2012 Movies #102-133

I’m a couple months behind on blogging about the movies I watch during 2012, and at this point it would be ridiculous to do a post for each film on its own. So here’s a catch up list.

  • Ted (2012)
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
  • Pieta (2012)
  • Joyful Noise (2012)
  • The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012)
  • Anna Kareninia (2012)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
  • Passion (2012)
  • The Sapphires (2012)
  • Hellbenders (2012)
  • ill Manors (2012)
  • I Declare War (2012)
  • Spring Breakers (2012)
  • Argo (2012)
  • Byzantium (2012)
  • The Five-Year Long Engagement (2012)
  • Artifact (2012)
  • Ghost Graduation (2012)
  • Shampoo (1975)
  • Wanderlust (2012)
  • Zulu (1964)
  • Possession (2012)
  • Looper (2012)
  • The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
  • Savages (2012)
  • V/H/S (2012)
  • Pitch Perfect (2012)
  • Sinister (2012)
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • Con-Air (1997)
  • They Live (1988)
  • Candyman (1992)
2012 Movie #101 - Dr. No (1962)
I haven’t watched a pre-Pierce-Brosnan Bond film since I was a teenager or younger, so I thought it was time to catch up on some of the originals. It’s fascinating seeing how developed the film Bond archetypes were, even in the first film. I’m assuming most or all of these come from the Ian Fleming books, but it’s still surprising to see all the major touchstones right there in the first film DR. NO
Introducing himself as “Bond. James Bond.”
The first Bond girl, Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder.
The ridiculous Bond girl name: Honey Ryder.
Drinking a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.
Starting in London and going to an exotic location: Jamaica.
We meet James Bond in his evening finest at a casino, gambling with and seducing a beautiful woman who later shows up in his bedroom.
James Bond driving a sports car very fast.
James Bond’s flirtatious relationship with Miss Moneypenny.
A ridiculously extreme villain.
An exceptionally production designed evil secret lair.
An elaborate opening credits animated sequence.
The iconic James Bond theme music.
The biggest thing missing is that in this film James Bond has standard gear and uses his own resourcefulness rather than fancy gadgets to get out of tricky situations. I understand the appeal of the fancy gadgets, but there was something nice about seeing James Bond solve problems with his brains and personality rather than a laser watch and a pen that shoots poison darts.
There are definitely lessons to learn about franchise creation in DR. NO. At times the film is quite rough in construction, but the core elements are all incredibly strong and show the potential for recurring appeal. High-res

2012 Movie #101 - Dr. No (1962)

I haven’t watched a pre-Pierce-Brosnan Bond film since I was a teenager or younger, so I thought it was time to catch up on some of the originals. It’s fascinating seeing how developed the film Bond archetypes were, even in the first film. I’m assuming most or all of these come from the Ian Fleming books, but it’s still surprising to see all the major touchstones right there in the first film DR. NO

  • Introducing himself as “Bond. James Bond.”
  • The first Bond girl, Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder.
  • The ridiculous Bond girl name: Honey Ryder.
  • Drinking a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.
  • Starting in London and going to an exotic location: Jamaica.
  • We meet James Bond in his evening finest at a casino, gambling with and seducing a beautiful woman who later shows up in his bedroom.
  • James Bond driving a sports car very fast.
  • James Bond’s flirtatious relationship with Miss Moneypenny.
  • A ridiculously extreme villain.
  • An exceptionally production designed evil secret lair.
  • An elaborate opening credits animated sequence.
  • The iconic James Bond theme music.

The biggest thing missing is that in this film James Bond has standard gear and uses his own resourcefulness rather than fancy gadgets to get out of tricky situations. I understand the appeal of the fancy gadgets, but there was something nice about seeing James Bond solve problems with his brains and personality rather than a laser watch and a pen that shoots poison darts.

There are definitely lessons to learn about franchise creation in DR. NO. At times the film is quite rough in construction, but the core elements are all incredibly strong and show the potential for recurring appeal.

2012 Movies #91-100

In order of personal preference…

  • GONE BABY GONE (2007)
  • STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997)
  • A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966)
  • INTOUCHABLES (2011)
  • MAGIC MIKE (2012)
  • THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
  • THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)
  • GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT (1947)
  • THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011)
  • GOON (2011)

The two big surprises for me were GONE BABY GONE and STARSHIP TROOPERS.

I had never seen GONE BABY GONE, and I was blown away by the film. I’m a fan of THE TOWN, but I think GONE BABY GONE is a significantly better and more mature work. I’m so excited to see what Ben Affleck has in store for us over the rest of his hopefully long career as a director.

I saw STARSHIP TROOPERS in the theaters, and I liked it as a piece of popcorn entertainment. It wasn’t until this second viewing years later that I realized how well the film also works as satire. I know I’m way behind the curve on this one, but it’s an incredible film.

With regards to GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT, I suspect that if I saw it in the 1940s I would have loved the film, but it really doesn’t hold up today in terms of style or content.

2011 Movie #90 - Friends With Kids (2012)
This was a fascinating movie for me to watch. The cast are incredible, and you can tell that the roles were crafted with these actors in mind. Chris O’Dowd was the big revelation for me. I’m a fan of his work in The IT Crowd and in Bridesmaids but I was incredibly impressed by his flawless American accent. I find that a lot of the time English actors can’t carry their charisma over to American characters, but I think if anything O’Dowd is even more likable as as American.
The film suffers from a loose hand in the editing room. Individual moments of relaxation and vibe can be fantastic, but they accumulate into a weight that drag down the whole of the film.
What I’ll Take Away: Be brutal in the editing room. High-res

2011 Movie #90 - Friends With Kids (2012)

This was a fascinating movie for me to watch. The cast are incredible, and you can tell that the roles were crafted with these actors in mind. Chris O’Dowd was the big revelation for me. I’m a fan of his work in The IT Crowd and in Bridesmaids but I was incredibly impressed by his flawless American accent. I find that a lot of the time English actors can’t carry their charisma over to American characters, but I think if anything O’Dowd is even more likable as as American.

The film suffers from a loose hand in the editing room. Individual moments of relaxation and vibe can be fantastic, but they accumulate into a weight that drag down the whole of the film.

What I’ll Take Away: Be brutal in the editing room.

2012 Movie #89 - The Vow (2012)
A common occurrence at bedtime is that I curl around my iPad playing a game (current addiction is Kingdom Rush) while Jess watches a terrible movie on iTunes. Things were chugging along like normal the other night. I’m instructing mages to shoot lightning bolts at creeping monsters while Jess queues up another terrible film. This time it was THE VOW starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. I’m pretty good at tuning out the background noise, but about five minutes in I realized I was letting the monsters creep past all my defenses because I was so absorbed in the film.
Let me say this right now. THE VOW is not a terrible film; in fact it’s a pretty damn good film. I have some quibbles with the way the concept unfolded, but on the whole I was incredibly impressed with the filmmaking across the board. I’m sorry for judging you so quickly THE VOW, I should have given you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for any new films directed by Michael Sucsy.
What I’ll Take Away: Casting casting casting. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams are fantastic, and they are perfectly cast. It’s amazing how much mileage you can get just out of casting the right actors. High-res

2012 Movie #89 - The Vow (2012)

A common occurrence at bedtime is that I curl around my iPad playing a game (current addiction is Kingdom Rush) while Jess watches a terrible movie on iTunes. Things were chugging along like normal the other night. I’m instructing mages to shoot lightning bolts at creeping monsters while Jess queues up another terrible film. This time it was THE VOW starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. I’m pretty good at tuning out the background noise, but about five minutes in I realized I was letting the monsters creep past all my defenses because I was so absorbed in the film.

Let me say this right now. THE VOW is not a terrible film; in fact it’s a pretty damn good film. I have some quibbles with the way the concept unfolded, but on the whole I was incredibly impressed with the filmmaking across the board. I’m sorry for judging you so quickly THE VOW, I should have given you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for any new films directed by Michael Sucsy.

What I’ll Take Away: Casting casting casting. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams are fantastic, and they are perfectly cast. It’s amazing how much mileage you can get just out of casting the right actors.

2012 Movie #88 - A Royal Affair (2012)
At dinner, Jess and I decided to see a movie. Our local theater in London is playing The Five-Year Engagement and A Royal Affair, and we decided to let our fate be decided by our Rotten Tomatoes test. Here’s how we do our Rotten Tomatoes test:

We guess the Rotten Tomato score for each movie. This is a highly scientific estimate based on what we think of the marketing materials and how we think critics normally respond to each type of film.


We then look up the actual Rotten Tomatoes score of each film, generally using QuickRotten (the simple Rotten Tomatoes interface I made). Whichever movie beats our estimated score by the most is the one we go see.

This approach helps us equalize types of films that we assume would normally get low Rotten Tomato scores and types of films that would normally get high Rotten Tomatoes scores. If an action film gets a 70% and an arthouse film by a beloved director movie gets an 75%, we’re probably going to see the action film.
Our guess with The Five-Year Engagement was 60% and our guess with A Royal Affair was 80%. The real scores as of June 28, 2012 were 63% and 95%. We had a winner!
I can definitely say that A Royal Affair is one of my favorite films so far in 2012, and I think it’s one of the strongest tragedies of recent years. I believe the classic tragedy is one of the hardest genres to pull off for a modern audience, and I admire how well it was handled in A Royal Affair. There were a few scenes where I wish the filmmakers had a bigger budget to work with, as the big moments always felt a bit smaller than they should have been, but the film really works based on the strength of the performances and the careful construction of the emotional throughlines.
In particular, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard is incredible as King Christian VII. He’s definitely an actor to keep an eye on. According to IMDb, Mikkel shot A Royal Affair while still a student in drama school. I doubt there are many theater actors who had already won Best Male Actor at the Berlinale before their graduation ceremony!
A Royal Affair is currently in theaters in the UK, and I know Magnolia are releasing in the US later this year. High-res

2012 Movie #88 - A Royal Affair (2012)

At dinner, Jess and I decided to see a movie. Our local theater in London is playing The Five-Year Engagement and A Royal Affair, and we decided to let our fate be decided by our Rotten Tomatoes test. Here’s how we do our Rotten Tomatoes test:

  1. We guess the Rotten Tomato score for each movie. This is a highly scientific estimate based on what we think of the marketing materials and how we think critics normally respond to each type of film.

  2. We then look up the actual Rotten Tomatoes score of each film, generally using QuickRotten (the simple Rotten Tomatoes interface I made). Whichever movie beats our estimated score by the most is the one we go see.

This approach helps us equalize types of films that we assume would normally get low Rotten Tomato scores and types of films that would normally get high Rotten Tomatoes scores. If an action film gets a 70% and an arthouse film by a beloved director movie gets an 75%, we’re probably going to see the action film.

Our guess with The Five-Year Engagement was 60% and our guess with A Royal Affair was 80%. The real scores as of June 28, 2012 were 63% and 95%. We had a winner!

I can definitely say that A Royal Affair is one of my favorite films so far in 2012, and I think it’s one of the strongest tragedies of recent years. I believe the classic tragedy is one of the hardest genres to pull off for a modern audience, and I admire how well it was handled in A Royal Affair. There were a few scenes where I wish the filmmakers had a bigger budget to work with, as the big moments always felt a bit smaller than they should have been, but the film really works based on the strength of the performances and the careful construction of the emotional throughlines.

In particular, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard is incredible as King Christian VII. He’s definitely an actor to keep an eye on. According to IMDb, Mikkel shot A Royal Affair while still a student in drama school. I doubt there are many theater actors who had already won Best Male Actor at the Berlinale before their graduation ceremony!

A Royal Affair is currently in theaters in the UK, and I know Magnolia are releasing in the US later this year.

2012 Movie #87 - Bloodsport (1988)

Flipping through channels last night, I noticed that BLOODSPORT had just started. So of course I had to watch the whole thing. I haven’t seen the film for probably a decade, and it’s fascinating seeing what holds up. On the whole, the fights were much less polished than I remembered, but still a lot of fun. They manage to give secondary characters a lot of life just by differentiating their fighting styles. On the other hand, the emotional scenes are embarrassingly bad. The moments of JCVD by himself doing bizarre split-leg meditations (as seen above) are pretty incredible.

2012 Movie #86 - Green Street Hooligans (2005)
I finally caught this film on Netflix Instant. I found the world to be fascinating, and I liked the performances, but I think the film was let down by a script that felt too much like a first draft. There’s definitely something interesting here, but it still needed a lot of structural work. I also have a hunch that the content of the film strongly undermines the very themes the author tried to express. High-res

2012 Movie #86 - Green Street Hooligans (2005)

I finally caught this film on Netflix Instant. I found the world to be fascinating, and I liked the performances, but I think the film was let down by a script that felt too much like a first draft. There’s definitely something interesting here, but it still needed a lot of structural work. I also have a hunch that the content of the film strongly undermines the very themes the author tried to express.

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. High-res

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.