December 12th, 2010


Better Than A Pretty Good Day

Ok, better than pretty good - yesterday was kinda awesome.

It started with breakfast at midday at Vittoria's for the 1-year birthday of momentmusicaux's daughter. I had chicken in a white wine and mushroom sauce, which is (a) one of my favourite meals and (b) infrequent, as Julie doesn't eat mushrooms. It was lovely catching up with a bunch of people, and watching various young-uns scampering around the table. The staff provided helium balloons for each othe kids, and when we left my nephew (Noah) was holding hands with lilaanne and blearyboy's daughter, with the strings of their ballons entwining slowly as we walked along George IV Bridge. Julie and I headed off to The Meadows and wandered about it, reminiscing about back when Julie used to live next to it, and got to jog around it. And then we headed home.

Where we got to spend about an hour and a half, before heading out for half of my Christmas present. She'd told me I had to keep this Saturday evening free about two weeks ago, so I had done, although she wouldn't tell me what it was for. Turned out to be The Three Musketeers and The Princess Of Spain, which was unruly, bawdy, ridiculous, grotesque, exciting and funny. Not at all what I was expecting and all the better for it.

We then went for a drink in The Fimhouse bar (handily just over the road), and then walked back homewards, stopping in for a late snack at Burger King to keep us going, and then ending up pausing two thirds of the way back to discover that Voyage Of The Dawn Treader had an 11:15 showing. Which we got out of at 1am, staggered home the last mile or so and collapsed into bed, where we watched and episode of How I Met Your Mother and fell asleep, completely exhausted.

Today we had breakfast out again, this time followed by shopping for Christmas presents and a couple of things to make the flat more livable. Soon there will be spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. And Tron. Which I had to download as it is, astoundingly, not on release as a DVD at the moment. I am boggled by the incompetence, I really am.
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Review: The Three Musketeers and The Princess Of Spain

There is a story: A young man, desperate to belong to the king's musketeers, tries to prove himself worthy, encounters the famous Athos, Porthos and Aramis, and battles against the machinations of the evil Cardinal Richelieu to serve the King and France.

There is another story: A young man, to avoid sadness when he must lose his true love, is ensorcelled to lose his emotions, thinking it a blessing, and not realising it is truly a curse. He flees into the woods, and lives there alone, until he encounters a princess who must be saved from evil attackers, and feeling some twinge of something, he knows not what, he springs into action, saves her, and begins an epic quest to recover his emotions, himself, and his love.

This play combines both stories, taking the well known characters from Dumas work, placing them in the middle of a fairy tale, and then turning it all into a grotesque adult pantomime. "Grotesuqe", in this case, is not meant as a pejorative. Everything here is larger than life. Human emotions and drama are blown out of proportion, exaggerated for effect, and made both humorous and repulsive. There is no realism here - I could not see this working as a film - it grabs the unreality of theatre with both hands, and then stretches it like candyfloss, producing something that frequently had me laughing despite myself.

It also makes good use of swordplay (a little too much of it, but largely well choreographed), wordplay, puppetry (for a massive baby-eating monster, skeletal birdlike beasts and hunting dogs with glowing red eyes), and the charisma of many of the actors. The plot never quite hangs together, but frankly, I'd be surprised if many people noticed, let alone felt it mattered.

You can get a flavour of it from the video on the theatre page here.

Oh, and songs! How did I forget the songs. Only a couple of them, but when one of them involves dancing nuns you can't really go wrong...


Narnia III: The Pevensies Afloat (Ok, a review of The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader)

The problem with The Voyage of The Dawn Treader is the structure of the book. It doesn't really have one. It's a series of events with no real progression, in which people have semi-random encounters with whimsical oddness, a couple of characters learn things about themselves, and then Jesus-Lion turns up and gives the Tin Man a heart, The Cowardly Lion a medal, The Scarecrow a diploma, and Dorothy goes home sends everyone on to their just rewards.

The film attempts to fix this by Collapse ). It works pretty well as a structural change. The problem is that we still don't care that much about most of the characters. To be honest, the movie would have worked better if they'd changed it more. Lucy and Edmund don't get much to do, and if they'd dumped them (almost) entirely from the movie and just had it be about Eustace's evolution from spoiled brat into decent human being then that part of the story (which is by far the most successful - the relationship between Reepicheep and Eustace is very well done) would have had more room to breathe. As it is, the movie feels cramped and muddled. It's ultimately more gripping than The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (which I found to be terribly insipid), but I enjoyed it less than I enjoyed Prince Caspian. Much as I enjoyed the books as a child, I think that they're the problem with the movies - hamstringing them in much the same way the first two Harry Potter movies were.

Acting-wise, Caspian, Reepicheep, and Eustace are all good, Edmund and Lucy are improved over earlier films (but still not great). The ship itself looks fantastic, and the CGI is seamless. The action scenes are exciting, and the magic looks magical. I was irked by Aslan's speech at the end, but it's faithful to the book, so it feel churlish that somone put Christianity in my fantasy movie.

The box office figures aren't looking good so far, which is a shame, as I'd love to see The Silver Chair on the big screen. Frankly, I can't ever see anyone filming either The Magician's Nephew or The Last Battle.