In the past week I have seen three different movies, with three different experiences.
The first was Mr. Turner, the biopic about the painter J.M.W. Turner. Even before the movie began, I knew I was in for a comfortable time. The local multiplex had several of their smaller theater converted to reserved seating. For the same amount of money, I got to sit in a very comfortable recliner. It was like sitting at home watching a movie on HBO, except with a huge screen and expensive snacks.
I loved Mr. Turner. That said, I love art, I love Turner’s work, and I recognized many of the works on the walls. Even as I watched it, I realized that Timothy Spall’s amazing performance notwithstanding, if all those things were not true I would have been bored out of my skull. The Rocket Scientist fell asleep for ten minutes. Nonetheless, it was a good movie.
I wish I could have said the same for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which was was bloated and quite boring at places. Had Peter Jackson condensed his trilogy into his two movies and edited them heavily, he would have two very nice films each with a two-hour running time. Furthermore, several moments totally over came my willingness or even ability to suspend disbelief. Elves may be magical, but unless they can fly, Legolas being able to leap up falling rocks is simply ridiculous. That said, I enjoyed the use of non-equine battle steeds: the pigs, rams and especially the giant caribou were quite imaginative. Also, Kili makes my heart flutter, much like Tauriel’s. I don’t like long hair on men, but in his case, I’ll make an exception. Knowing what happens to him (I read the book, after all) didn’t change that.
I also learned that the best time to see movies is late weekday evenings. The Resident Shrink, Rocket Scientist, and I went to a late 3D Imax showing. We were the only people in the theater, which meant we could talk (and snicker) through all the previews.
The same thing happened when I went to see Into the Woods. I had been eagerly waiting to see this movie ever since I heard about it. Events in my life had precluded seeing it earlier, but I did finally get to it before it left theaters. I went to the late show on a Wednesday evening, and I was the only person in the theater. Given that I was by myself, I used the opportunity to sing along with some of the numbers.
I loved Into the Woods. Meryl Streep embodied the witch totally. (She’s clearly ageless: her “beautiful witch” looked to be about forty.) Chris Pine and Anna Kendrick were perfect as Cinderella and her Prince. (Sondheim once stated that he preferred hiring actors and teaching them to sing than hiring singers and trying to teach them to act. He and Rob Marshall clearly took that tack here.)
Emily Blunt was magnificent as the Baker’s Wife. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists snub of her in their Oscar nominations annoyed me as almost but not quite as the snubs directed towards Selma‘s director, Ava DuVernay, and lead actor, David Oyelewo.
I am scheduled to go see Selma next week, and am looking forward to it.