Well, we're in holiday mode in this house, which means getting out and doing things and seeing movies. As well as catching up on some reading and writing.
Just before Christmas we went to see Phantom of the Opera. The kids and I all love the movie, but none of us had seen the live show. I knew I'd love it because I know some of the music and really enjoy it. My brother and his wife, who consider themselves connoisseurs of theatre, and my mother are all keen Les Miserables fans and say that nothing stacks up to Les Mis. Mum even says she can take or leave Phantom. I'm the opposite (but admittedly I've only seen amateur theatre productions of Les Mis, albeit very good amateur productions). I loved Phantom and would happily see it next time it's on. We didn't see Anthony Warlow -- Simon Pryce played the phantom -- and I'd heard Warlow was brilliant so that was a little disappointing, but only a little because Pryce was excellent in the role. (It's just that thing that you always wonder about what you might have missed, but I can't imagine Warlow doing it any better. Friends have raved about Warlow's performance, but I could just as easily rave about Pryce's.)
In the last couple of days we've been on the cinema trail, first of all seeing Enchanted and then The Golden Compass.
Enchanted was interesting because of the structure. The first ten or fifteen minutes are animated, and set up the "fairytale" world before the main characters cross into the "real" world and become "real" characters (ie played by real actors). And was the fairytale world full-on fairytale -- the princess was just like Snow White only more so. It's a fascinating structure because the first fifteen minutes of a film usually set the film up so that the audience knows what to expect, but this film, instead of giving more of the same, then does a 180 degree turn and becomes something incredibly different. The tone particularly is different. We could look at it as a hero's journey kind of set-up, establishing the status quo, but the first fifteen minutes have such a different feel that I wonder how children will take to it. I took my two (who are in their teens), and my son wanted to walk out of the animated part, but enjoyed it more once the film got going. But I'm thinking that small children might be disappointed when the film moves away from the fairytale feel, which was far too saccharine-sweet for me. Overall, I found the film enjoyable. A fun movie.
Yesterday we saw The Golden Compass. I've read Northern Lights as it was published in Australia (and the UK and no doubt various other places). It's been a while since I've read the book, and my feelings were the movie felt true to the book. Various people/reviews have said that there's lots missing, but I didn't feel that there was. Sometimes, too, I wonder if it's that they remember bits that are revealed later (because it is a trilogy) in the other books. Maybe. But maybe not. Parts of the film seemed dull in terms of lighting -- the Svalbard parts, which are no doubt set in winter so the dimness is obviously intentional, but I just didn't feel it aided the experience. They left the film feeling almost colourless in parts. On the positive side, I thought Dakota Blue Richards did a fantastic job of Lyra. Great to see a child actor who can really act a la Jodie Foster. The acting all around was fantastic. It's a film I could easily sit through again, and yet don't feel driven to see again, as I did with Lord of the Rings or Gladiator, which is a shame, as I like nothing better than a mild obsession to get me through the summer. Not this year, it seems. Which all sounds a bit damning, but it shouldn't. Definitely a movie worth watching.