For the second year in a row, my friend Mike and I spent the Saturday between our birthdays at the movies. Like last year, we were able to screen five films, among them a few surprises and a disappointment.
We started off the day at Seattle's Cinerama, and enjoyed the new James Bond film, Casino Royale on their mammoth screen with state-of-the-art sound. A fan of both the books and the films, I went into this movie with high hopes and somewhat low expectations. But seeing Paul Haggis listed in the writing credits (he wrote Million Dollar Baby and the phenomenal Crash) my expectations rose considerably and I was not disappointed. This Bond is raw, tight and breath-takingly exciting. So much so that it ranks now as my number two favorite in the franchise.
Transition now to the Uptown Theater and Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, which is not at all what we expected. At times I felt I was watching a David Lynch picture. Nicole Kidman's performance is fantastic in this impressionistic and sometimes surreal "invented" biopic of the famous photographer, and Robert Downey's turn as Arbus's muse (whose face is seen only at the end of the film) is rich and compelling. Mike and I spent the day trying to decide whether or not we actually liked the film, and I cannot recommend this one to everyone.
We followed fur with the latest Christopher Guest outing, For Your Consideration. He has taken on the theater, dog shows, and folk music in his unscripted films thus far, but turning his attention to Hollywood is uninspired and ultimately disappointing. Granted, his cast is good, and there are a number of genuine laughs, but the film remained the day's big disappointment.
Break for Panang Curry and rice at Phuket Thai on Queen Anne.
If there is anything wrong with the period piece Copying Beethoven it's the uneven script. But the performance by Ed Harris as the maestro during the final days leading up to the premiere of his ninth symphony is remarkable. The filmmakers took a chance with an extended sequence highlighting the performance of the symphony, but the composition itself is exquisite and Harris is mesmerizing as the deaf conductor, able to lead the orchestra only by receiving cues from his copyist, played by the lovely Diane Kruger. We left the auditorium raving not so much about the film as we were about Harris's performance and about the magnificent ninth symphony.
We finished off our day with The Prestige, in which Hugh Jackman joins Batman Begins alumni Michael Caine, Christian Bale and Director Christopher Nolan. Though we felt the film cheated us at the end. Nothing is as it seems in this film (which I guess, in a film about illusions, that is the point, right?), but we were thrilled and surprised and wildly entertained.
All in all, I would say it was a good day.