THE BOOK OF THE FILM.
THE FILM OF THE BOOK.
A three chapter extract of my latest novel
NEW YEAR’S DAY JANUARY 2010
EXT: Surrey, England – 3am, 2010 is three hours old
200 feet in the air - an icy wind is blowing.
LOOKING DOWN on a large country house covered in snow.
Vic Damone is singing the opening to An Affair to Remember starring Carey Grant and Deborah Kerr.
DOWN to a rear window - INTO a room flickering with light.
INT: The room
The floor is strewn with DVD covers of classic films -
La Dolce Vita, From Here to Eternity, Casablanca, An Affair to Remember and many more.
PAN TO a TV screen - Vic Damone is singing over a snowy PANORAMA of New York.
ACROSS to a bed - a man lies sleeping in it.
Suddenly, the room door opens - bright light and the noise of a major party penetrate.
Someone enters knocking into furniture - a glass clunks down on a bedside table.
The drunk gets in the bed, huffs and puffs, then falls asleep.
Vic Damone ends.
INT: Same bedroom – 8.00am
A glow from the TV, grey light from the window.
A man and a woman the same age, mid-30s, lie snuggled, noses touching.
Her face twitching, the woman opens her eyes.
Horrified, she erupts out of bed screaming.
The man catapults out of bed also screaming.
Ooohhh! Noo! Ohhh noooo!
Ellie and Tommo together
Both feel their bodies up and down.
Ellie’s hands come to rest on her breasts, Tommo’s on his crotch.
The screaming stops and they stare at each other across the bed.
Ellie holds her head - Tommo looks stunned.
She feels over her body again then realises she’s wearing clothes.
He feels his crotch again then realises he’s got underpants on.
Both drop to the bed, sitting back to back.
Ellie holds her head as a massive hangover kicks in.
Nnnnnh!... where am I?
My room. Left the party early…
Must have come in while I was asleep… party… The Hangover.
The Hangover… movie… seen it?
Well I thought…
Think… think I’m going to be sick…
Ellie rushes to the en-suite.
The door slams - Tommo hears violent vomiting.
He goes to tap on the door but backs away half awake.
INT: The bedroom - 10 mins later
The toilet flushes - Ellie emerges, very slowly.
Reaching for the bed, she sits down weakly, her back to Tommo.
Look the bed’s yours…
No… not good…
Ellie sways to the door, opens it and leaves.
Tommo picks up the video box for An Affair to Remember.
He turns the TV off and slumps back down on the bed.
INT: Outside the bedroom – after closing the door
Ellie creeps to some stairs and descends.
The unfolding scene looks like the aftermath of World War 3.
A huge main room is pure devastation. Glasses, bottles, discarded clothes, boxes and party bunting are everywhere. Some naked people are asleep on the floor. Others at different stages of undress lie draped on sofas and chairs. Two people are dancing in a staggering grope without any music. A pyramid of half-full champagne glasses stands on a table and an ice-carving of Madonna drips onto the floor. ‘Where’s Doug? has been painted in red on a wall, ‘Obama Loves You’ placards lie piled up, a set of car-tyres are stacked, a large sit-on lawnmower is parked and a man in a Henry 8th costume sits slumped astride a full-sized bucking bronco machine. A parrot is perched on a lampshade and ducks are waddling about.
Amazed in her agony, Ellie rushes away holding her mouth past a goat munching grass. She enters a massive kitchen, also a total mess. Food, used plates and serving dishes are heaped and sinks are full of dirty glasses and bottles. She pulls piles of it away to get at a tap for water.
Wiping her mouth, she sees a man in a Batman outfit sleeping on a breakfast bar with a woman dressed as Robin lying on top of him. Some cupboards have been painted with red letters spelling out ‘H-A-P-P-Y N-E-W Y-E-A-R’. Elsewhere there’s a full-sized, blow-up doll of The Queen, an authentic New York hot-dog stand on wheels, boxes of bananas and a six-foot cactus in a large gold pot alongside some French windows. Another parrot sits on ceiling air-con blades. The ducks start walking into the kitchen quacking.
EXT: In the garden - 15 minutes later
Ellie stands in snow drinking steaming coffee.
She’s wearing a long, furry overcoat with a huge hood covering her head.
Finding sunglasses in a pocket, she puts them on.
She contemplates a huge model of Titanic floating in a swimming pool.
The kitchen French doors open and Tommo steps out wearing only jeans and a T shirt.
He walks over to stand in silence behind Ellie.
After a while she hears him shiver.
You’ll catch your death.
1500 souls lost. The cold.
Titanic? Yes. Saw the movie. I blame DiCaprio.
Ellie (hand to head)
Satan’s dogs are gnawing my brain.
Zuul. Demon terror. Ghostbusters.
Movie mad… God, my head!
You had a skinful…
Can’t remember. Taxi here. Then nothing.
Not getting into bed?
Especially that. Not like that normally… don’t do things like that… normally.
Nothing normal about Titanic in a swimming pool
Ellie sips her coffee as they stand in silence.
Borrowed the coat. Can’t find mine. What the hell is this place?
Daisy and Bill’s, my friends. Stay here sometimes. Do parties on a grand scale.
Titanic? Ducks? Water theme?
Told you… The Hangover.
I know. Have one.
No, the movie. The Hangover. Theme. Don’t bring a bottle, just the most outlandish thing you can. So… parrots, goats… and ducks and Titanic…
All this? Recreating a movie?
Tommo (shivering more)
More like live up to. Made a good job. No tiger though. But you wouldn’t know, you haven’t seen it. Left the party, watched films then wham. The Queen could have got into my bed and I wouldn’t have noticed…
No queen. Hardly drink...
Who invited you anyway?
Someone from my bank. Needed to get out of myself.
Your bank? You rich then? Daisy only manages people who are incredibly loaded.
No. The bank I work at.
Important banker then? Did you cause the credit crunch?
Ellie (in pain)
Tommo (teeth chattering)
Did you drink to forget or did you forget what you forgot to drink about?
Please! My poor head…
Why out of yourself? Bank trouble? Boyfriend?
Look, why the questions? What’s it to you? My business, none of your concern.
Tommo (holding his hands up)
Ellie starts to walk back to the kitchen but stops facing the French doors.
My business not yours. I feel like shit and shit happens. But that’s my life not yours, right? End of story, right? Now I have to get out of this madhouse.
Sorry, truly. I’ll call a cab… but first take this. What I came out to give you.
Tommo passes her forward a DVD case.
Present. The Hangover. Memory of our night together. Very funny. Might help you get over yours.
Ellie (snatching the DVD)
She opens the doors but halts.
Ellie goes inside as Tommo speaks after her.
It’s fake. The snow. Sprayed. Anything can happen in the movies.
He follows her inside as the soundtrack of Out of Africa starts.
PAN UP the wall and across the roof.
TIMELAPSE – DOWN to the front of the house.
A taxi arrives.
Ellie comes out still in the coat, the hood and sunglasses, followed by Tommo.
EXT: Outside the house
Ellie gets in the taxi and departs.
Tommo waves, shivers, then looks about.
A yellow bi-plane is flying low on the horizon.
He traces it across the blue sky.
FADE TO the blue.
Tommo looking up to the blue sky
Goodbye - And Arrivederci Meryl, Thanks.
The things you never forget.
G-AAMT. The letters on Robert Redford’s yellow bi-plane. Taking off with Meryl Streep in the front cockpit seat. Robert the hero, the leading man, his flying helmet adding extra allure to his adventurer panache. Meryl just letting her lovely curls billow out in the African wind.
Gliding into white clouds and blue sky, soaring over John Barry’s achingly beautiful soundtrack. Vast hills, waterfalls and plains passing beneath. Herds of wild animals and huge, pink waves of flamingos spooked by the engine noise unheard over the orchestra.
Meryl and Robert… G-AAMT… flying into a ball of fire sun.
It was the way Tommo remembered the last movie he ever saw in The Shed, the little picture house his parents ran and he loved so much. The burning embers of memory. 1986, thirteen-years-old, sitting in his faded but still plush red seat for the half-full afternoon showing.
The next day Meryl left her farm in ‘Aaa-fricaa’ one more time and The Shed went up in flames. Tommo’s entire, happy, celluloid world reduced to charred rubble.
So many films when he lived ‘over the shop’, so many stories. Non-stop stars, heroes and villains, goodies and baddies and every picture had its own special memory stamped inside Tommo’s head. For Out of Africa it was G-AAMT… ‘Goodbye - And Arrivederci Meryl, Thanks!’ A little phrase representing the devastating turning point in Tommo’s life. The end of the golden years which had shaped and formed him from a baby.
‘Goodbye’? Obviously. But ‘Arrivederci’?
Tommo’s Dad thought Italian film directors were the best in the world. He was always speaking Italiano and said nobody could beat his hero Federico Fellini, the maestro who made the ultimate classic, La Dolce Vita. By the time fire struck The Shed, Tommo had lost count of the times he’d seen it.
Meryl? For Out of Africa, of course. And Thanks? For all The Shed’s memories.
Watching the bi-plane float across the sky in the clear New Year air, Tommo was suddenly struck by an acute pain of sadness. The last hour’s chaos had blocked out the awful news but its impact returned now with searing force.
Incredibly, it was now Arrivederci Dad too.
A call early during The Hangover party had dealt the crushing blow. Telling no-one and retreating to his room, Tommo found the only solace he understood, movies. And at such a moment only classics would do - La Dolce Vita, naturally, and one of his Dad’s romantic favourites, An Affair to Remember. Classics until Tommo fell asleep minutes before a drunk crashed in.
Arrivederci Tommo’s amazing Dad. The man who had lived for film. The one-in-a-million movie man who knew it all - who directed it, who starred in it and who produced it. The locations, the screenplays, the soundtrack - a living movie index of a father, a walking encyclopaedia of film. Except now, of course, he was a dead one instead.
Arrivederci to those strong hands that once held a 3-year-old son high in the projector room so he could touch the mysterious, magic engine showing all the pictures. Safe, loving hands, the projector’s warm glow. A tingle shooting out of its bulk like a bolt of lightning.
Arrivederci Dad. Always busy in his little cinema domain, constantly on the move, forever pacing the tiny auditorium - a big word for a pint-sized local picture house but The Shed was a true, commercial movie theatre nevertheless.
Non-stop. Up at the screen one minute, in the tiny box office the next. Working the projector, greeting customers, changing the bill-boards or redirecting cars outside in The Lane. Every night, they were bumper-to-bumper along the grass verge - latecomers running in just before the wink was tipped and the show could start.
The Shed, Tommo’s Dad’s private fantasy palace, a magical place where work was a perfect pleasure and people saw dreams come alive. If films were his heart-beat, then the fire that razed his pleasure-dome to the ground burned a gaping hole in Tommo’s Dad’s heart - a wound from which there was no true recovery. Like Meryl and her farm in ‘Aaafrica’, cruel blazes destroyed their precious worlds. Saddened beyond measure, both were driven from the place they loved most.
Yet, for all his pain, The Shed hadn’t always been Tommo’s Dad’s to lose.
Fresh out of the war and sensing a business winner with a new wife and young son in tow, it was Tommo’s grandfather, Jono Divine, who originally took over the derelict cinema in 1945. At first, he tried to re-instate its half-forgotten, original name, The Alhambra, but the locals didn’t buy any of it. The little movie house had been The Shed as far back as anyone could remember, so if this flash new owner wanted punters he’d better swallow his airs and graces and lump it. The Shed in all its small-scale glory was thus reborn.
Catching a post-war movie boom without a bigger rival for miles around, the cosy Surrey cinema was always jam-packed and Jono raked it in. And for him that was all that mattered. Dreams, romance, wars or westerns might be playing on the big screen on any given day but it was just business for Jono. Films came and went, new releases, classics, but it was all the same. Money was King. As long as the box office till kept ringing and bums on seats went home happy, the quality or artistic worth of the product on show was of very little consequence.
Not for his little boy though.
The Divine’s lived in the flat carved out above the cinema and from day one the spirit of movies echoed up through the floor and seeped into young Fred’s veins. Transfixed by film, The Shed was never just business for him. It was his heart and soul.
So, when Jono had a heart-attack in 1968 and died on the spot, his then 23-year-old son changed his name to Federico (the ‘o’ marking a measure of paternal respect but in truth much greater homage to his movie hero Fellini) and grabbed the reins of The Shed with everything he had. His Mum was moved out to the house she had always dreamed of and the little cinema lived on in Federico’s hyper-active but very safe hands. Until the day hot flames licked and the final credits rolled. The End… Fine.
‘Thanks for letting me know Maria.’
Maria was Tommo’s Dad’s second wife. The tiny but stupendously beautiful Roman was calling from the elegant villa overlooking the Mediterranean at Taormina in Sicily - the home where Federico recovered from twelve soul-less years after The Shed’s demise managing a new multi-screen cinema complex in the large town across the county. A demoralising epoch ending in a year of unbearable sadness watching his beloved Susan lose her fight against cancer.
In deep sorrow, just a week after his wife’s funeral, Federico flew to a film festival in Rome to get away from it all. And there, sitting next to him in an old picture theatre for a Fellini film, was Maria. No-one was more surprised than the groom when the couple were married within two months and began a new life together in beautiful Sicily.
No-one except Tommo. Federico may have found unexpected new love and life in the country he loved, but for his son the marriage was a film making no sense, with the wrong ending, the stars miscast.
Tommo had always adored his father, his mentor, the devoted tutor who had passed on the precious family movie gene. Federico was his guru, the wise one who had nurtured his boy’s insatiable, inescapable desire to be in the movie business himself one day. But Tommo took the wedding as an insult to his Mum's cherished memory - his irreplaceable Mum who knew a thing or two about movies herself. She held his hand in The Shed many times while wonderful stories played out before them.
Tommo considered Federico’s Italian race to the altar an act of betrayal and forgiveness was beyond him. He loved the black and white 1948 classic film of Shakespeare’s Hamlet - Laurence Olivier directing himself - so as a grieving son himself he knew about 'o’re hasty marriages'.
Consequently, over the ensuring years, as he began building a career in film, Tommo never visited the new Mr and Mrs Divine at their Taormina home on the eastern edge of Sicily. Never, despite many invitations, and in time Federico stopped asking.
It never became a complete rift though. Despite the deep hurt Tommo had suffered, wounds did heal somewhat. Father and son talked on the phone every few months or so and they met up on occasions when the old man and his lovely Maria came to London. But that special father and son spark had gone. Tommo never went to Taormina, non è mai andato, yet now he would, for his father’s funeral. A reunification, if only through death.
Arrivederci Federico. A whole life spent in movies had ended peacefully in his sleep and the former hero-turned villain was no more. Breaking the news, Maria spoke the words her step-son had found impossible to say but now, to his great sadness, years too late, he realised deep down inside he still felt.
‘…era un grande uomo.’
‘Yes… he was a great man.’
Despite the difficulties her marriage had caused, Maria had always liked Tommo and understood. She had tried to tell Federico they ought to wait but he was a hot man in love in romantic Italy and could not be dissuaded. Ending her sad call to Tommo, she looked up at a photograph on a side-table, her late husband shaking hands with Steven Spielberg.
The yellow bi-plane eventually disappeared from view behind Bill and Daisy’s house, beyond a corner where a pink blow-up Eiffel Tower swayed in the winter morning breeze, and Tommo shielded his eyes against the sun to wipe some tears away.
In his mind’s eye, he saw a multitude of planes in movies. Buzzing around the Empire State Building in the original King Kong, Dam Busters dropping bouncing bombs, James Bond fighting it out in a depressurised cabin with Goldfinger, Maverick Tom Cruise in Top Gun… and, of course, G-AAMT.
Goodbye - And Arrivederci Meryl, Thanks.
Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham
Synopsis: Four guys are on a pre-wedding day stag in Las Vegas. Waking up the next day, their hotel room is wrecked and they can’t remember the Big Night. The hangover gets worse when they can’t find Doug, the groom to be, and worse still when the consequences of their manic, lost night unravel. It’s a mad, mad, mad race to find Doug and
get back for the wedding.
Tommo’s room at Bill and Daisy’s - DVD
Ellie’s lounge – DVD
Not your cup of tea Dad. Fellini would have a heart attack. La Dolce Vita it ain’t… but I need something to cheer me up.
It couldn’t be, could it?
Not my cup of tea. Fun, but far too near the mark. Couldn’t have been as bad as that… could it?
But it was.
The cab, drawing up outside the house with Herman, one of the bank’s associate directors. A New Year never-to-be-forgotten bash being thrown by a socialite wheeler-dealer and her property tycoon hubby at their huge Surrey spread and Herman had insisted.
‘Get out of yourself for once!’
Ellie had been down for so long she didn’t know how to get up. So, she agreed. Fun before duty for once and there she was, in darkest stock-broker belt.
Legendary host Daisy met them at the door, a huge drink in her hand, screamed hello without a clue who they were and snogged Herman before sashaying off into masses of bodies dancing to deafening music. Horrified, Ellie grabbed Herman’s arm. No way could she stay.
‘But you have to have at least one drink…’
Two spiked vodkas later, Herman had disappeared into the arms of a fully naked woman except for her belt trailing a four-foot-long, horned dragon’s tail, and Ellie, losing any sense of inhibition or decorum, crammed years of unfulfilled wild living into the next few hours. An incomplete list of her excesses including:
Knocking back five Orgasms (Amaretto, Kahlúa and Bailey’s) in 30 seconds while standing in a massive bath containing four nude male bathers.
Firing a crossbow at the face of the Prime Minister being digitally projected onto a wall.
Competing with four women in the kitchen to see how many bananas each could fit into their cleavages.
Riding a pantomime horse, then a mechanical rodeo bull with a banana in her cleavage.
Smashing an ‘Obama Loves You’ placard across the head of a man trying to pinch her bottom with garden shears.
Dancing with a man dressed as Henry 8th, then dancing with a naked man while she was dressed as Henry 8th.
Eating caviar spread over a hot dog served by a New York seller especially flown over to the UK together with his cart.
Eating Chinese Zongzis with the rice and filling wrapped not in edible leaves but £20 notes, then black pudding off the chest of a Premier League footballer.
Puffing a £500 Cuban cigar before instantly throwing up the just eaten black pudding.
Smoking a Shisha pipe and instantly throwing up the Zongzis, the caviar and the hot dog.
But there was much, much more.
Like setting fire to a uniform of an officer in the Horse Guards while he was doing handstands, spray-painting letters on a wall, nailing a bucking bronco ride and feeding canapés to ducks. All before, eventually, losing herself in the house, barging into an upstairs door, clunking a glass of expensive whiskey down and falling asleep on one side of a double bed.
Then, morning, waking up with the guy, throwing up, snow, Titanic and getting the hell out as fast as her enfeebled body could manage.
Still feeling very sick, Ellie pulled the taxi’s rear window down to get air while the cabby, fully realising the suffering, kept schtum. An expensive fare into London, why risk a lavish tip by chatting and getting on her nerves? Especially if she threw up on the back seat and might pay over the odds big time to cover the embarrassment.
When the cab finally arrived outside Ellie’s luxury, Thames-side flat in Wapping, just east of Tower Bridge, she allowed the driver to help her out thus earning himself another few quid on top of the greatly-inflated fare. But it was money well spent for not calling James, her usual driver from the bank. She’d never be able to face him again.
Groping up to her apartment, an eternity spent getting her key into the lock, Ellie eventually barged inside and swayed to the loo to pee. After dragging cold water across her face, she hangover-hallucinated to the lounge where, hours later, rainy and dark outside, she woke to see her TV playing a DVD. Weird.
Then her mobile rang.
‘Yes… Oh, hello… yes, thanks, I’m fine…’
Ellie tried to focus her brain.
‘Really, really sorry for not being there last night, for New Year… I just needed to… be by myself… yes, I’ll be there tomorrow morning… as usual. Bye….’
Troubled, but her head a little clearer, she swayed back to the kitchen for water. On her return, she restarted the film she couldn’t remember even putting on let alone watching.
‘Shit happens …’
INT: A brightly lit room - the next day, Saturday, 9am
CLOSE UP of Ellie’s face, looking tired and drawn.
She is talking in an emotion-free, monotone voice.
… then Mike Tyson whacks him… massive… a Phil Collins song’s booming out of this fancy house with a piano and the mad, beardy one with a bandaged hand hits the floor like a sack of potatoes… and Doug is still missing…
A long pause - Ellie sighs deeply.
Made me laugh anyway and I haven’t done that for a long time. Some guy at the party asked if I was drinking to forget… some guy…
INT: Tommo’s London flat – the same time.
Tommo’s face on his mobile phone screen - he’s recording himself.
Flying to Sicily. Mixed emotions. Guilt, I suppose, since Mum died. Anyway, a meeting in Town first. Money…
Tommo pauses, then speaks again.
Can’t get what happened out of my mind.
EXT: A residential Surrey avenue - an hour later
Ellie is let out of the rear door of a large, black car by James, her driver.
She walks up the front path of a Tudor-style detached house and rings the doorbell.
The door is opened and she enters.
EXT: The City of London - same time
Tommo is paying off a black taxi cab.
He shoulders a leather document case and enters the sliding doors of a tall office block.
TIMELAPSE/MIX TO Tommo emerging from sliding exit doors at an airport in Sicily.
The main soundtrack to The Godfather starts
EXT/INT: Various scenes
Tommo standing with Maria, both dressed in black at Federico’s funeral.
Ellie in the bright light room again, her lips moving but no sound.
Tommo looking out over the sea on Taormina beach.
Ellie knocking at the Tudor-style house.
Tommo kissing Maria goodbye and getting into a taxi.
Ellie in the bright light room - CLOSE ON her face.
TIMELAPSE – some days later.
INT: 10th floor office of a London investment bank – 11am
MIX TO Ellie’s face now.
WIDEN – she is leaning against the glass walling of her plush office.
It’s raining heavily outside and she’s deep in thought.
After a few seconds there’s a tap at the door.
An elegantly dressed man aged about 60 enters.
The Godfather’s music fades
Ellie pushes away from the window.
Thoughtful, yes. A few things on my mind.
Atlantis, I hope.
Adam sits down and leans back in a leather sofa.
Ellie sits at her desk.
Important deal Ellie. Need to focus. Thought I’d pop along and, well, under-line. Ready to go?
Tomorrow. All finalised. Everyone’s in New York.
Lots riding and your little friends at Salvatore will do very well out of it too.
I know you have a soft spot…
It’s where the whole thing started, if you remember.
Just walk everyone through, nice and calm…
A bit patronizing this morning, aren’t we? Am a big girl. I can get on a plane all by myself.
Adam stands and walks towards the door
Just making sure Ellie. Great expectations.
Then why the headmaster’s pep talk?
You know why.
If you say so. Have a safe and very successful trip.
As Adam leaves, a man bumps into him at the door - sharp black suit, 40, attractive.
Quite alright George. She’s all yours!
Any time, any place
Adam raises an eyebrow and leaves. Ellie is terse.
What do you want?
You never take me seriously.
I got the job.
I don’t bear grudges
Of course. But I am. Serious.
I repeat. What do you want?
Tomorrow. Good news. I’m coming too.
Ellie stands at her desk, shocked.
No way! Over my very alive body.
Lovely as that image is, I’m afraid it’s true. Adam says. Not a minder, just a colleague.
Take your sticky fingers off. My deal!
I suppose. Look, he’s not going to budge so cut some slack. He’s worried about you. We all are…
I don’t need you and I don’t need this. You can stick your worry.
George starts to back out of the office.
Tomorrow. See you at Heathrow. Bye!
Her office door closes and Ellie hits her desk hard.
A pink light on it shaped as a teddy bear falls over.
She picks it up and slowly replaces it.
Her office phone rings and she answers, still angry.
Carrie (Ellie’s PA)
Call for you. Personal. Chap name of Tommo.
Ellie shuts her eyes, shocked.
She puts her hand over the receiver, looking very nervous.
Silently, slowly, she counts to ten.
OK Carrie. Put him through.
Tommo (after a click)
Ellie? Ellie? Is that you?
A very long pause
I can’t believe it… it’s you! I just didn’t…
It’s me, Tommo? You knew didn’t you. You knew. When you said ‘they don’t always have happy endings’ you knew…
INT: A bar across the street from Ellie’s office
Tommo (on his mobile)
I only knew for sure last night. Ever since New Year’s Day… All these years. I didn’t recognise you. But I felt something, knew something….
INT: Tommo in the bar, Ellie in her office
Ellie (letting out her breath)
No-one’s that hung up on films.
How did you find me?
MIX to Flashbacks:
Ext: Outside Ellie’s flat – almost dark, 3.30pm
Tommo is paying off Ellie’s New Year’s Day cabbie.
This the place?
Very same. Tipped well.
Grabbing another tenner, the cabbie drives off.
Tommo looks at names on the building’s security buttons - one reads ‘Ellie Watson’.
Ext: Outside the flat - 3 hours later
A photo lens-view of Ellie being let out of her car by James.
A burst of shots captures her face looking into the camera.
Int: Tommo’s flat - later
He’s Googling on his laptop.
Suddenly, he sees Ellie’s photograph for a prestigious London investment bank.
MIX to Ellie’s face today.
INT: Ellie in her office, Tommo in the bar
20 years or so. Long time.
But you knew me? How?
Some things you never forget.
Like yellow bi-planes.
Never mind. But you never said anything.
Blame the hangover.
Did you watch it? Seemed appropriate after the state you were in.
Less said the better. I’m not like that… never, like that…
You said ‘shit happens’.
Did I? Well it does. Yes… watched the film. Very funny. Enjoyed it. Didn’t think I would after going through the real thing but hey.
Another long pause.
I didn’t know the name. Watson. Married? When did that happen?
A long time ago. And long over.
So, no Mr Right?
You’re not wrong.
Another long pause.
I’d like to see you Ellie… let’s meet?
It’s been so long. Why? What good would it do
Please don’t say no. My Dad died. In Sicily. Moved there. Remarried when my Mum passed away after we… well you know. I was only told at the New Year’s party. Why I wasn’t in the mood. Then you… in the morning… somehow you were there. Please, can we… meet?
Ellie stands, walks to her glass walling and looks out across London.
I’m very sorry about your father. And your Mum, of course. Yes, OK, I suppose so.
You remember Titanic? In the pool? Di Caprio?
You freezing to death.
How about seeing James Cameron’s new one, Avatar?
PAN OUT of the coffee shop doors - INTO the air.
OVER the tops of buildings and ACROSS London.
TIME-LAPSE into night.
DOWN to a crowded Leicester Square.
EXT: Leicester Square, London - 7pm
Tommo and Ellie walk up to each other in front of the cinema.
Tentatively, he kisses her on the cheek and they hold hands at arms-length.
You’re still beautiful.
Don’t be silly.
But you are. Thank you for coming.
They unlock hands awkwardly.
So… is this going to be good?
Think James Cameron may have bitten off more than he can chew. But as long as you are here I can stop being the critic and enjoy the moment.
Well I’ll try.
You said you’re in films yourself?
Yes. Still my father’s son.
You don’t run a cinema, do you?
No, moved on.
Make films myself. Directed one I wrote-produced. Dreaming of bigger things.
I’ll remember the name.
Well you’re the big, bad banker. What about funding my next project? Nothing’s moving after the Crash.
Sorry, we only deal with stars, not extras. Let me know when you’re box office.
It’s been such a long time.
It’s good to see you. Really… despite…
Sleeping together? Well we never did before and we sort of didn’t this time either.
An embarrassed pause.
Shall we go in?
You said you’re in New York tomorrow.
Yes. A deal to clinch. You just caught me.
Well, pleasure before business then. Let’s enjoy our movie night.
Entering the cinema, Tommo sees posters from many classic films on the walls.
PAN ONTO one for Chariots of Fire.
It depicts the famous opening scene - Olympians running in the sea along a beach.
Vangelis’ haunting sound-track starts.
FADE ON the poster.
Chariots of Fire’s opening scene
A voice echoing out into the darkness.
‘… and wings on our heels.’
Mounting electric music pounding out to the runners’ pace. Athletic legs plying through cold sea-shore water. The camera panning up to fresh, young faces, striding out in slowed-motion. All happy despite their obvious physical challenge.
Vangelis’ soundtrack hitting its stride, opening up ocean-wide as the leading characters pass one by one. The shot widening out taking in the whole beach, arcing away into the distance. A dog standing with a cloth-capped man and a young boy unable to bear it any longer and tearing off after the Olympians…
Federico believed you knew when a film was going to be great, knew from the start. An itching in your hands, the cinema-black air swaying in suspension. Your head saying ‘watch this, watch this…’, your eyes focusing harder, your heart jumping with anticipation.
No matter how the picture opened – booms and bangs, fists and fights, people talking, a languid view of a lake, a forest, some mountains or the sea - if you didn’t feel it then, it wouldn’t be great.
Federico the divine movie guru walked down the central aisle (actually the only aisle) of The Shed one day holding his five-year-old son by the hand telling him this. Pointing up to the huge white-screen in front of them, Fellini’s namesake knelt to whisper into Tommo’s ear.
‘Feel it here …’ touching the boy’s head, ‘and you will feel it here…’ and he slid his hand down to cover Tommo’s little heart.
From that day on it was an unstoppable, unconscious act. Whenever Tommo watched a great film, great in his eyes, his hand went automatically to his heart. It slid there for the beginning of Out of Africa that day before the fire, as it did for Chariots of Fire in 1981, but there were so many heart-holding pictures in those glorious Shed years.
The Shed - Tommo’s early training ground. A constant conjuror of magic from the dark, honing his movie senses. Something to gain out of every picture, even if it was a dud. But in those early, impressionable times something special came along almost every week, something wonderful. Basking in black ether, his hand would move down to feel the pump, pump, pump of a heart waiting to be enthralled.
Tommo had to admit, he held his heart less frequently these days. Working in the business, some inevitable cynicism cast cold reality over film’s magic dust more often than he liked, but it still sprinkled him regularly enough. Twice, quite recently in fact, for Disney/Pixar’s beautifully tender movie Up and, of course, for The Hangover. Tommo didn’t think 2009 was a vintage year by any means but his hand covered his heart for those pictures.
One day, sitting together on The Shed’s stage beneath the screen, his arm around his son’s shoulders and an empty house awaiting its next show, Federico imparted more pearls of cinema wisdom.
‘Films have souls. They reach out to you in the darkness, their arms opening wide. Most are scattered like dust, here, right above the seats, lost in the projection light. But some touch you, get inside, and you carry that bit of their soul around for the rest of your life.’
The souls of so many unforgettable movies poured out of the magical projector in those Shed years. As young as four, Tommo remembered staring in wonder at Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, sensing its panoramic power passing into him.
And like G-AAMT for Out of Africa, there was always something unique to remember every picture by - Tommo’s private movie index. For Close Encounters, it was the kindly alien at the end - its smile reminding him of his Mum’s.
Those golden Shed years - moments capturing amazing movies.
1978. Christopher Reeve in Superman… Tommo running out into The Lane imagining he could really fly.
The Muppet Movie, 1979… his Mum’s brilliant impersonation of Miss Piggy at the dinner table.
1980 and Federico bending the rules to allow his son a glimpse into The Shining. ‘All part of your education!’, though swearing Tommo to secrecy from his mother.
Grabbing Federico’s beloved Fedora trying to look like the great Indiana Jones for Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.
ET in 1982. Spielberg again… with his mates riding BMXs likes bats out of hell down The Lane towards the village as a full moon hovered over the parish council offices.
1983 and something changing inside him after seeing Local Hero… watching a girl in the row in front, thinking she was beautiful.
1984. Paris, Texas … Tommo’s young movie tastes developing fast. Wim Wenders? What a name for a director. Tommo loved all the hits that year, especially Ghostbusters, but there was something wild about Paris, Texas. A hand on heart movie without really knowing why.
Back To The Future in 1985… afterwards, Tommo trying to stand up on a skateboard but failing miserably. And later in the year,locking away the fabulous sight of Kelly McGillis in Witness. No wonder Indiana Harrison Ford fell in love building that barn for the Amish people.
Then finally, 1986 and Meryl. Bob Redford looking cool in khaki and G-AAMT the abiding memory burned into his brain. Tommo slid his hand to his heart at the start of Out of Africa and the next day flames ripped it out.
The gaping shock of the fire and its devastating impact on him and his family blotted out Tommo’s next few movie months. Moving to a flat a few miles away, he had little recall of the films he saw in that difficult time but his passion was re-awakened when Federico took the manager’s job at the new cinema multi-plex across the county. His Dad’s dedication to customer service and his photographic movie knowledge winning over his new employers in a clapperboard-clap.
Modern, plush and big, The Elysium wasn’t The Shed for sure - this was a cinema on a much grander scale - but it was still the movies and Tommo was too young not to move on.
Unlike his father.
People flocked to The Elysium for its multi-screen wonders but Federico’s heart quickly flowed out of the business. The movies themselves, the reality of them on the screen, still dominated his life, but running a cinema, even one as impressive and popular as this, fast became just a job.
A unique flame had burned inside The Shed’s simple showman, a special spirit which simply couldn’t be re-kindled within a characterless, concrete shopping mall of a movie-house. How Federico mourned his loss, for long years he grieved for it, until there came an even greater mourning, for his beloved wife.
Tommo mourned The Shed too, bitterly. He so missed not living ‘over the shop’ anymore. But like it or not The Elysium was his new ‘home’ and he came to like it a lot. The first film he saw there, Hannah and Her Sisters, was unforgettable, like sitting inside a vast, wedding cake of a theatre big enough to swallow two or three Sheds and not touch the sides.
That Hannah night’s dinner at home was memorable too. Federico hated Woody Allen pictures and let his family know it over his shepherd’s pie.
‘New York’s Fellini? Give me the real thing any day!’
And so, another intensive burst of ‘educating Tommo’ began.
Father and son saw Fellinis galore over the next two weeks to get old Woody out of Federico’s hair. Nights of Cabiria, Otto e Mezzo, Amarcord, La Dolce Vita. Tommo felt he was becoming almost fluent in Italian.
Movies flowed non-stop at The Elysium as the years passed - the good, the bad, the so-so’s and the intermittent stream of hand on hearts – and Tommo rolled through his teens completely absorbed in film. Other boys could name of all the players in football teams but he could rattle off the stars and directors of any picture anyone cared to mention.
Spielberg, Wilder, Ford, Capra, Fellini (naturally)… Wayne, Garson, Peck, Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl…
Life was a constant loop of movies and all for free, either at The Elysium or at home on TV. New releases on the big screen, classic black and whites and sumptuous 50s and 60s Technicolors on the small one.
Today, it might be Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the amazing 1988 cartoon-real-action hit in The Elysium’s Screen 1, and tomorrow, Capra’s Lost Horizon on the telly. Ronald Coleman leaving Shangri-la with the beautiful woman who turns into an aged hag on Asia’s snowy mountainside.
The next year, it might be The Elysium for Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, then home for director Jean Negulesco’s Roman romance, Three Coins In The Fountain.
Fellini apart, Tommo was amazed how the movies seem to love Italy and especially the Eternal City’s famous Trevi Fountain.
It was the location for the iconic La Dolce Vita scene - Anita Ekberg wading in an unforgettable black strapless dress. Blonde, sensationally seductive, tempting Marcello Mastroianni to get his suit wet and join her. And again for ‘Three Coins’ – all the lovers meeting at the Trevi for the final denouement. Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire, Rossano Brazzi, Jean Peters, Louis Jordan and Maggie McNamara…
A voice echoed out of the darkness in the Leicester Square cinema, a precious voice from Tommo’s past, cutting short his memories.
‘Just like Titanic I suppose… it’s all about love in the end.’
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang
Synopsis: Jake Scully, a former US marine confined to a wheelchair, is hired to join an expedition to the moon Pandora. He and other humans use a machine that projects a person’s consciousness into humanoid form so they can interact and infiltrate the Na’vi people to achieve rich mining rights. As an Avatar, Jack can walk again, even fly, on this amazing new world and develops a strong relationship with the beautiful Na-vi woman, Neytiri. Their love deepens as conflict with the humans erupts.
Leicester Square cinema, London
Can’t believe this is real.
Twenty years. The hood over her head and dark glasses. But how could I not know her voice?… Can feel her breathing.
Be careful. Be very, very careful.
Avatar… all the hype.
… Neytiri saving Jake from Viperwolves, a magic exploration through the rainbow Na’vi world… anything can happen in Pandora. Flying dragon Toruks, marvellous mountains, bottomless valleys…
Impossible. A fantasy. Like Ellie being here.
Special effects great but it’s still goodies and baddies. Jake and Naytiri caught in the middle. Battle-lines. Lovers standing together.
When Avatar’s credits rolled, Tommo and Ellie turned their heads to look at each other. They hadn’t spoken throughout the entire film.
‘You were ready to be disappointed...’
‘I know, but like my Dad used to say. If it moves you the first time then job done. No matter if you think it’s rubbish after that.’
‘Are you… moved?’
Tommo paused. ‘Beyond belief.’
Ellie allowed Tommo to direct her out of the row of seats but gently took her hand away when they reached the aisle.
‘Just like Titanic I suppose.’ she said, ‘It’s all about love in the end.’
What the hell am I doing here?
No harm. Goodness sake, his Dad’s just passed away. Couldn’t say no. No-one knows I’m here.
… I like this. And, despite everything, Tommo being here is a comfort.
Jake and Neytiri, human and avatar. Their getting together is as incredible as New Year’s Day.
Na’vi versus humans. Battle-lines. Love winning out in the end.
Careful. Be very, very careful.
‘Are you… moved?’
‘Beyond belief and reaching the aisle, Ellie eased her hand away from Tommo’s.
‘Just like Titanic I suppose… it’s all about love in the end.’
EXT: Drop-off, JFK Airport, New York - Friday, 10am
A black Range Rover pulls up.
Ellie and George emerge as a driver gets their luggage.
They walk towards the terminal building, each pulling a suitcase with a business bag.
George is talking on his mobile phone.
EXT: Mayfair, London - same time, 3pm
Winter twilight, a black cab pulls up.
Tommo gets out, pays off the cabbie and walks towards some plush offices.
INT: New York - 15 minutes later, 10.15am
Ellie and George are at First Class check in.
George is still on his mobile.
EXT: London - same time, 3.15pm
Tommo is sitting in a luxury office waiting room chair.
A young woman steps out of a lift, walks up and he stands to shake her hand.
INT: Airport VIP lounge - half an hour later, 10.45am
George is alone at a table with a glass of champagne. He’s still on his mobile.
Nailed it! Agreement all round last night… Atlantis happy as pigs in do-dah… handshakes, champagne… God it felt good… Yeah, spoke with Adam last night. Over the bloody Moon… massive… Ellie? Yeah, well OK I suppose… few hiccups… some mistakes… a bit tired you know, the usual… so all took longer than anticipated… Jeez, I nailed it… bonus, bonus, bonus… Adam said she needed her hand held… nudge here, a word there, you know, the fairer sex… anyway La Belle Dame approaches so better go… see you in the UK…
Ellie sits down and pours coffee from a silver pot.
You look good.
So macho, so early…
Can a man not pay a woman a compliment?
Not this woman.
Look, relax. Today’s a great day. Success! We did it.
You mean ‘I’ did it.
George leans across the table at her.
No… teamwork did. We make a good team. That’s what Adam says.
Been reporting back to teacher?
We should work together more. In fact, a lot of things more…
In your dreams.
George puts his hands up in mock surrender.
Just trying to be a friend… you know, in times of distress…
You pathetic bastard! Look after your own troubles. I’ll look after mine.
Ellie stands, arms her coat and bag and walks off.
Automatic glass doors of the lounge slide open for her.
MIX to sliding doors opening for Tommo coming out of the offices.
EXT: London - same time, 3.45pm
Tommo walks out onto the lamplit street, raises his head and shouts.
Shit in soddin’ Heaven!
He checks his watch and sees a jet on approach to Heathrow.
INT: New York - 45 minutes later, 11.30am
Ellie is sitting in First Class to London Heathrow waiting to taxi out.
A glass of champagne, she is on her mobile.
… fantastic outcome, all parties happy. Deal wasn’t in doubt really, just needed a bit more time. We got there. Atlantis now solid as a world entertainment group and other players, like Salvatore in Italy, can concentrate on what they are good at …
INT: London – same time, 4.30pm
Tommo is on the other end of the line, walking along a street holding his mobile to his ear.
Sure. Great movie makers. Can’t believe you’ve been working on a film deal. That’s my territory.
INT: Ellie in New York – Tommo in London
I’m the money, you’re the talent.
Yeah. More like you’re both.
Can get you a financial adviser if you want.
Sure need one…
Anyway. Very hush hush. Don’t know why I told you…
Silence on the line.
Lips sealed. So, when do you get back?
Taking off now….
Enjoyed Avatar… and seeing you…
Good to see you too.
Sorry for the movie talk.
You’re still the same.
Tommo stops in the street.
Am I? Is that good or bad?
Well, I suppose…
Careful, I may not sleep with you again.
You’re not going to let me forget that are you.
No… but… can I? I mean, see you again?
I don’t know. Do you want to?
What do you think?
Tomorrow night? New film. The Road. Can I take you?
Another day, another movie night. Can I buy you dinner before? After?
OK, another movie night. What’s it about, The Road?
A road, I suppose.
Hand on heart?
And tonight? Bound to be something surely.
Yep. Hey, there’s a coincidence! George Clooney’s new one. Up In The Air.
Where I’ll be while you’re watching…
But you might have it on your in-flight entertainment. Out in the States earlier.
George arrives at his window seat across from Ellie.
She covers her phone so he doesn’t hear her.
Deal. Another movie night
OK. Disappearing down the tube now so will say goodbye. Have a safe flight. See you tomorrow. Will call. Hand on heart.
Ellie cannot stop herself
Hand on heart…
George hears her and raises his eyebrows.
Not what you think.
Coming out of your self-imposed shell? Moving on?
You really are something aren’t you…
No denial then. Turning a new page, finally? After all this time I think you deserve…
What? Someone like you? OK let’s drink to that…
Ellie throws her champagne in his face.
The opening music to Up In The Air starts.
PAN THROUGH George’s plane window.
BURST INTO flashing colours.
TIMELAPSE/MIX to a speeding tube train stopping at a station.
Tommo gets out along with many others.
EXT: London – later, 7.00pm
Tommo exits Piccadilly Circus Station and turns into crowds towards West End theatre-land.
INT: Mid Atlantic – same time, 2.00pm (New York Time)
Ellie is reading her in-flight entertainment magazine.
INT: A London cinema - 7.45pm
George Clooney’s voice engulfs Tommo as Up In The Air starts.
INT: Over the Atlantic – same time, 2.45pm (NYT)
Ellie is wearing headphones at the start of Up In The Air on her TV screen.
Clooney’s voice continues.
PAN ALONG the plane aisle - INTO the cockpit.
THROUGH the front windows - INTO the speeding sky.
TIMELAPSE - descending to the lights of London Heathrow.
EXT: London – later, 12.45am
A taxi arrives outside Tommo’s flat.
He pays the driver and walks to his front door.
INT: London - same time
Ellie is in the back of her bank car speeding along.
Looking out of the window, she is deep in thought.
INT: Tommo’s bedroom – 30 mins later
Tommo’s face on his phone’s screen.
… it’s late. Good day, awful day. Prospective funders say no go. Getting serious now. Running out of options. Some institution money still on the cards but it’s going to take a lot more. Good day… spoke to Ellie again. Meeting tomorrow… Movie Night… been away for the week and it’s felt like a month. Texted from Heathrow to say she saw Up In The Air on the plane and I saw it tonight too. Freaky. Film good. Nice touches. Clooney, Vera Farmiga and the new one, Anna Kendrick, very good together…
Tommo’s phone light MIXES to the bright light room.
INT: The bright light room - same time.
PAN DOWN from the ceiling light to a CLOSE UP of Ellie.
She stares blankly ahead, talking in the same flat, monotone voice.
… this new girl comes up with the idea of laying everyone off work by video conference. Clooney hates it. Plus, if they do it that way he doesn’t get to fly around all the time… trying to beat some air-miles record and get a special credit card… then someone commits suicide after one of the videos and they stop… sad story… Rather have Clooney than the George I’m stuck with… Adam’s pet poodle… been assigned to ‘look after me’. Hey, looky-looky, the girl who needs to be ‘looked after’. Such a shame, poor Ellie… Clooney has this on-off air-miles girlfriend… meeting up in cities every now and again… no strings, no ties. But George doesn’t know she’s living two lives… Hey! What do you think? Living a hidden life. Does that sound right?...
PAN UP from Ellie’s to the bright room light.
FADE TO WHITE
Up In The Air
Director: Jason Reitman
Writers: Walter Kirn (novel), Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (screenplay)
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
Synopsis: Ryan Bingham flies all over the country as a senior executive
firing workers. He loves his life on the move but his air-miles life-style is
threatened, first by a new system to fire people by video-link
and then by falling in love.
Tommo – at a London Soho cinema
Ellie – flying over the Atlantic
How you want to look on your wedding day. Movie eye-candy, but much, much more. Moves with the camera like an angel. It’s the voice… languid, every twinge of emotion, instantly recognisable, as all the great voices are…
George’s voice. Airport-to-airport. Making carefree love to beautiful Vera Farmiga in hotel rooms. Discussing flight schedules and business time-tables. Telling losers in the lecture room to get rid of the back-packs of their lives. Packs weighing them down with all the stuff they don’t need. Relationships, wives, husbands, aunts, uncles, sons and daughters.
Is she watching this right now?
Clooney… great in Ocean’s 11… Danny Ocean… Ellie over the ocean... George and Vera… flying into unchartered territory…
George’s 10 million miles up in the air. The pilot coming back to congratulate him, presenting the precious airline credit card. One of a very special travelling band. But no Vera to share the moment with. No joy or satisfaction in George’s life’s work anymore. All those years flying into nowhere firing people into no-man’s land.
Until New Year’s Day, I was George too. Just me and the film business. Now everything’s up in the air and I don’t want to come down. Unless it’s with her.
The credits rolled, Clooney had nailed it once more, and Tommo moved out of the cinema into the chilly night air. How great if Ellie had seen it too. Either way she was flying back to him.
Is he watching this right now? I hope so.
A curtain drawn back on Ellie’s plane aisle
George Clooney, pilot uniform, sex on legs, grey-silver hair, wonderful smile. Standing there, dropping his hand to Ellie’s face, holding her chin up so she can see his endless, liquid eyes.
‘It’s not all about the miles…’ he whispers.
‘Please don’t fire me… we got the Atlantis deal…’
‘Relax. Where’s your back-pack?’
‘I don’t know… had it once.’
George turns away and taps George on the shoulder as he talks on his mobile phone.
‘Hey George! You got her back-pack?’
George pulls his mouth away. He’s angry.
‘Don’t give me any shit George. Adam wants me to keep an eye on Ellie in her time of trouble and I haven’t got time for back-packs. Anyway, it was my deal. She was just along for the ride…’
George picks up the glass of champagne on Ellie’s seat table and sinks it in one gulp.
‘Heaven…’, then reaching out over George to his window, pulls it opens and gently pushes him out of the plane.
‘Say hello to Vera for me!’
He turns back to Ellie with a credit card in his hand.
‘Congratulations! You’ve hit the ten million mark. See that slot on the side of your seat. Put the card in and see where it takes you…’
Ellie accepts the card and does as George says.
The card slots home… whoosh!
Suddenly, there isn’t a plane anymore. No George either. Just clouds in a sea of silent blue sky. Ellie bobs along, floating for what seems ages before, at last, she sees two tiny shapes in the distance coming towards her. In time, she sees they are mounted on Na’vi Toruk dragons, getting nearer and nearer, and when they arrive they rear up to greet her.
‘Hello Jake and Neytiri!’
‘We’re going to the movies. Want a ride?’
Ellie gets onto the back of Neytiri’s Toruk and they fly away into the blue. Eventually, they see a small dot in the sky getting bigger and bigger as they close in on it. The outline of a huge cinema complex is emerging, topped by a giant, flashing neon-sign.
‘The Elysium Up In The Air’.
Toruks are arriving from all directions for the show and pulling up outside, Ellie dismounts. But Jake and Neytiri stay mounted.
‘We can’t go in until we find James Cameron! Di Caprio is to blame!’
Ellie waves goodbye and walks into the cinema where she is greeted by Federico Divine asking for her ticket.
‘I’m sorry I don’t have one. But I have a note for Tommo. Will you give it to him?’
‘Of course!’ says Federico opening a door for her… and immediately she’s sitting in a plush seat bathed in incredibly bright light from a movie screen. Gradually, out of the brilliance, the close-up face of George appears.
‘Hi Ellie! Welcome to Movie Night. Sit back and relax. Have a glass of champagne. This is a real hand on heart you’re going to love.’
Ellie picks up the glass from her drinks holder and sips the bubbles.
‘What happened to George?’
‘Forget about him. It was always your deal. Atlantis are happy and Salvatore can continue to what they do best. You need to get rid of your back-pack?
‘I’m trying. Trying very hard.’
‘Time is a great healer.’
‘But what about the tiger and where’s Doug?’
‘It’s all OK. Mike Tyson’s happy and Doug will turn up. Don’t worry.’
Vera’s face joins George on the screen. She kisses him on his cheek and nibbles his ear before turning to speak.
‘Hi Ellie! Enjoy your Movie Night!’
Suddenly, the screen turns dark and all Ellie can see is a soldier running along a dark alleyway at night. He’s breathing hard, the camera’s shudder is distorting the picture. He gets to the end of the alley and shoulders into a sidewall.
‘Target dead ahead… going for the kill…’
A voice starts in his earpiece.
‘The target’s out in the open. You have no cover.’
‘We won’t get another chance…’
‘This is Control. You have no cover!’
‘George Clooney doesn’t need any cover… or a back-pack…’
Pulling out of the alley, the soldier cocks his rifle and runs towards a man standing alone and turning to face his assailant. It’s Bradley Cooper.
‘The Hangover is a man down. We can’t find Doug…’
But Bradley’s cut short by a massive explosion. A huge blast shakes the whole cinema. Thrown out of her seat, Ellie crashes to the ground, her champagne glass crushed, blood oozing out of her hand. In time, she realises the soldier from the film is lying silent on the ground beside her and she shrieks in horror.
Ellie juddered awake with George’s face in hers.
‘Hey, wake up, wake up!’
Finally, Ellie came to. George’s nose almost touching hers, a sickly smell of Scotch rising out of him.
‘You were shouting in your sleep.’
‘Yeah… scary. Nightmare?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Never mind. Understandable. You’ve been under a lot of strain…’
Ellie shot him a look. George took the hint, backed off holding his hands up.
‘Just wanted to make sure you were OK, that’s all.’
He sat down picking up his mobile phone but grinned a question.
‘Anyway, who is this guy Tommo you were shouting about?’
© Keith Bradbrook, 2022
For information on Movie Night - Kbradbrookuk@gmail.com