2015 Grateful 52

When in the States last year, I nearly bought a bag made of recycled seat-belts. I’m a fan of recycled clothing. And at this stage in my life, most, if not all, the men I date have been recycled, too. But a recycled movie?


Hölgyeim és uraim (which interestingly translates into Ladies and Gentlemen but goes by the English title of Final Cut) is a 2012 stroke of genius by Hungarian György Pálfi. It’s billed as the ultimate love story between the ultimate man and the ultimate woman. And it had me enthralled from the opening credits.

recycled-movieThe story is simple – man gets up, showers, shaves, dresses, goes out into the street and literally bumps into the woman he was destined to meet. She’s a singer. They date. She throws off the former boyfriend. They fall in love, get married, and life happens. Your average run-of-the-mill story, nothing much to get excited about in the grand scheme of things. It’s all be written and filmed and sung about before.

But when your leading man is not one man but hundreds – everyone from Patrick Swazye to Charlies Chaplin, from Clark Gable to Brad Pitt, from Woody Allen to Daniel Craig and runs the gamut from a moody melancholic to a rebel without a cause, then that’s something different.

And when your leading lady is not one woman but hundreds – from Audrey Hepburn to Julia Roberts, from Julie Andrews to Kim Novak, from Sharon Stone to Greta Garbo, with all the prim sultriness and wanton womanliness that goes along with them, it’s nothing short of amazing.

Pálfi has taken clips from 500 or so existing films and spliced them together into one cohesive movie. It’s one to watch and rewatch and then watch again (but not with the kids around). It’s a visual onslaught. And a pure delight to recognise the various actors and films and see clips out of context and yet so in context.

I’m a sucker for romance. I’m in love with the idea of being in love. And I love the old classics. Meg Ryan, move over – when they get around to filming Sleepless in Budapest, I’m in there. Pálfi’s film jumps from silent movies to animations, from westerns to film noir, from musicals to futuristic odysseys. It’s a roller-coaster ride that you won’t want to end.

I’m marking 2015 as a year of catching up – of taking time to see the films I’ve wanted to see but have missed, to read the books I’ve wanted to read but haven’t had time, to realise a long threatening to visit friends in far flung places before any of us shuffles off this mortal coil. And so far, one week into the year, I’m on track.

Granted, Hölgyeim és uraim was a bonus – I’d never heard of György Pálfi or his movie until this week when it was given to me to watch by someone who has my cultural well-being at heart (köszönöm a tanítást) and it prompted me to dig out two others that have been sitting on my shelves for years.

Can you believe I’d never seen The Bucket List? Those two questions are echoing in my head

You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death.  When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions.  Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not.  ‘Have you found joy in your life?’  ‘Has your life brought joy to others?

Food for thought there and never too late to change. And Sonny, in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has me convinced that

Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.

This is something my late friend RB used to tell me when I was on rant and I’d never realised before where he’d found it. That made the movie all the more special. That, of course, and seeing love win out in the end. I did say I was a sucker for romance.

My first grateful of 2015 has to be that it’s never to late to learn some lessons. And they come at us from the most unusual angles. We just have to be open to receiving them. A throwaway sentence can make a massive difference if we hear it just when we need to. And a movie like Hölgyeim és uraim can do wonders to restore faith in what at times can seem like a tired old story written for someone other than you.