“Where d’you wanna get to?” asked a woman as I puzzled over my subway map. It was my first ever trip to New York and I couldn’t figure out how to get from my hotel to Madison Avenue. In London stony-faced commuters would have rushed by without a word, but New York is the friendliest place I’ve ever been.
It was also one of the coldest. The sub-zero temperatures and bone-chilling wind were enough to make me think twice about walking more than two blocks at a time. Most New Yorkers sported padded coats, ear muffs (not a good look – no one can look stylish in ear muffs) and sturdy boots and confided that the weather was freezing even by their standards. CNN was breathlessly reporting blizzards and three feet of snow 200 miles away in Baltimore – so Manhattan was lucky to escape with a few snowflakes.
It was the bitter cold that drove me into a Downtown cinema on Sunday night to see Tom Ford’s debut movie, A Single Man. Starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, it’s based on the 1964 Christopher Isherwood novel of the same name and opens in the UK on Friday. The film tells the story of university professor George Falconer (Firth), who’s mourning the death of his lover Jim after 16 years together. Firth’s stunning performance has earned him an Oscar nomination – and rightfully so. Firth, perfectly described by t5m’s Neil Innes as “looking like Yves Saint Laurent and sounding like a mid 70s era Michael Caine,” brilliantly conveys George’s pent-up grief and Moore is dazzling as his boozy divorcee friend Charley. But even though the acting is superb and it’s the most exquisite looking film I’ve seen in a long time (everything is beautiful, from George’s gorgeous glass house to his sharply-cut suits), there’s something distinctly chilly about it. I always weep buckets at the cinema but this one just didn’t move me.
On the plane home I finally caught up with The Damned United, the movie chronicling legendary football manager Brian Clough’s 44 days as boss of Leeds United. Michael Sheen was mesmeric as Clough and his performance was matched by Timothy Spall as his best friend and coach Peter Taylor. I don’t even like football but this film knocked spots off A Single Man. And yes, I did cry.