One of the Toronto Film Festival movies I saw and said nothing about because I was bored and unmoved was Dante Ariola‘s Arthur Newman, which I keep misremembering the title of. What comes to mind are Alfred Newman, the composer, or Alfred E. Newman of MAD magazine.
Anyway, it costars the usually interesting or at least charismatic Colin Firth as the titular character, a very dull guy who decides to disappear from his own life and become a sort of imaginary golf pro, and Emily Blunt as a morose, leather-jacketed vagrant-knockabout. Together they narcotize and deflate and make a very dull film. I knew I wouldn’t last the duration, but I was hanging in there and hoping for the best when something happened that severed me from Arthur Newman and actually led to a walkout. It was a very minor thing, but it just hit me the wrong way and that was that.
There’s a scene in which Firth’s Arthur is urging Blunt’s Mike to get on a bus to Durham, North Carolina (she’s from there or something). But she doesn’t want to go, she says, because “I don’t like Durham.” But she doesn’t say that — she says “I don’t like Derm.” And the instant she said “Derm” I shook off the boredom and wondered why she’d say that because I was now mildly pissed off.
How do most people pronounce “Durham”? I asked a girl who worked at a Toronto cafe how she would prounounce it and she said “DurHAM?” An English literature professor visiting from Oxford or Cambridge might say “Dourhahm.” I pronounce “Durham” as a two-syllable thing with a muffled “uhr” that sounds like “Duhrrum.” But Derm (as in “perm” spelled with a p or Bruce Dern spelled with an m) is dead wrong. Nobody says it that way, and if they do they’re mistsken.
I guess Blunt got screwed up because she’s British and somebody told her it’s pronounced “Derm” and she didn’t know any better, and the director was no help because he’s Italian. I only know that “derm” was a deal-breaker, and that I can’t get the sound of Blunt saying “I don’t like derrrmm!” out of my head.