Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween in Times Square

It's 7.30 am in Manhattan, I've had four hours sleep, I'm jet-lagged and there's no coffee in this hotel room. I may have to get up and go and find some shortly.

I'm in NY for the Machinima FilmFest 2008. The flight was great. I normally like to fly Virgin, because of their inflight entertainment system. Well, BA have finally got around to putting in some good entertainment too, and it made the trip a whole lot better than usual. I didn't even open my book, let alone listen to any of the podcasts I was going to catch up on. (Sorry, Phil!)

I thoroughly enjoyed Speed Racer. It's the sort of cheesy special effects kids movie that I normally hate, but this was just what I needed at the time. It had elements of Spy Kids, and Matthew Reilly's Hovercar Racer, it's made by the Wachowskis, and it has John Goodman in it. It has that hyper-real CG style, with primary colours, and completely OTT visuals, the racing scenes are ridiculously cartoony, and it's obviously completely tongue in cheek. Great fun, as long as you're not expecting anything too serious. And, ashamed though I am to say it, it actually made me want to play the game.

For a complete change of pace, I then watched Tashan, a Bollywood thriller. Well, not so much a thriller as a comedy gangster caper movie. OK, OK, I'll admit it, I only picked it because it has the lovely Kareena Kapoor in it, but I'm glad I did, not only because she's very easy on the eye. It has a great story, full of twists and turns, and uses that wonderful narrative device of having characters talk straight to camera, interspersed with flashback. And it has exotic locations, great dances, and some good action scenes. The subtitles are unintentionally (I think) hilarious, especially as much of the film is about speaking English. As lead character Jimmy Cliff says, "Here even Hindi is spoken with an English accent." It has bags of style - Tashan means "style" - and was a great way to pass the rest of the flight. One to buy when I get home.

Johnnie and I got to our hotel on Madison Avenue mid-evening, and I realised I'd forgotten to bring mobile numbers for just about everyone I know in the USA, so we failed to hook up with any of the other machinima crowd. So instead, we took a walk three blocks into Times Square and watched the Halloween partygoers, at which point I realised I'd left my bloody camera in the hotel so I can't show you any of the fantastic costumes. Let's just say neither of us was looking at the Manhattan architecture. Sorry, peeps.

I did wonder why I kept getting admiring glances, and was feeling rather flattered until Johnnie punctured my ego by pointing out that I was wearing my usual Stetson and trenchcoat, so everyone assumed I was in costume. Not my devilishly handsome good looks making an impression on the young ladies of New York then. Shucks.

We ended up in the Heartland Brewery, where the beer was truly fantastic.* The Red Rooster was punchy and toffee-flavoured, and then we sampled the Smiling Pumpkin, which is indeed made with pumpkins, and flavoured with ginger, cloves, vanilla, and so on. We then noticed that they do a sampler where you can try small quantities of half a dozen different beers, and wished we'd gone for that instead. However, by this time we'd been up for 20 hours, it was starting to feel like 5am, and the need for sleep was kicking in, so we had to pass on the rest of their selection.

And now the sun has risen over the Manhattan skyline, and I've realised I forgot the cable for the camera so I can't show you that either. Damn, damn, damn. So instead, here's another picture of Kareena Kapoor in Tashan. Much, much prettier than skyscrapers.

Reminds me of Salma Hayek in Desperado. Which can't be bad.

Edit: now I'm home, here's the skyscrapers.

*A quick aside to some of you European beer snobs. Not all American beers are Budweiser, Coors or Miller. Some of my very favourite beers are American. Don't knock them till you try them.

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