A childfree weekend, and anyone who knows me knows that this means work and movies. I'm slogging away on formatting two extremely interesting Visual Arts PhD theses and correcting volume two of Mary Gilmore's Collected Verse, and somehow trying to write a course plan for a casual book arts gig that has been dangled in front of me like a plump juicy worm on a hook. The hook is, of course, less time to work on my own project, but I'd be a stupid fishie for not snapping it up to savour that juicy wormy goodness amidst the tang of metal and my own blood. This will be my first proper teaching gig (as opposed to recreational adult classes) and of course I'll put way too much work into preparing for it, but c'est la vie.
Best Beloved and I went to the movies last night and ran into some friends at the cinema. 'I thought you never had time to go to the movies' she said. 'No,' I cheerfully replied. 'Movies are the things I do make time for, while everything else suffers.' So I take this moment to apologise to anyone I've been neglecting. When I down tools on a child-free weekend, I need dark rooms and Dolby sound, not people. But I will get more social soon, especially when I start getting out and about with the new academic year.
So, movies. Last night we saw Stranger than Fiction, and this morning I saw (by myself) Perfume. On friday night BB went to Pan's Labyrinth, which he really liked (I had to drive Bumblebee to meet his father, who was running late).
I came out of Stranger than Fiction and just wanted to turn around and go back in and watch it again, because now that I know what happens, I want to sit through it and really watch. And listen. And think. It's great. I don't want to give any spoilers; anyone who loves literature, or has had any experience with authors, writing or humanities academia should see this movie.
It's also the best thing Will Farrell has *ever* done to date. I'm not a fan of his movie choices, he seems to have graduated from the Mel Brooks school of comedy, a thing that make my toes curl in revulsion. But here he hits the right note, constantly. And one of the most interesting moments last night was the cinema audience's reaction during his proposition scene. I don't know if that was because the last three rows were newly-minted adolescents, or if it happens at every screening. I'll find out if I go back.
Emma Thompson is brilliant as a frustrated author; what other woman would let strings of her own spit stretch out on-screen? I also really enjoyed Dustin Hoffman's character, his academic ego and his pursuit of the best story at any cost.
Hoffman is also in Perfume: the Story of a Murderer, although the single-mindedness he shows in Stranger than Fiction is now the attribute of a different cast member: Ben Whishaw, who plays Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and is far too pretty for the role, no matter how much sludge they fling over him. I did enjoy the dirty fingernails.
If anyone still needs proof that the printed word has exceptional powers, this adaptation is it. The book is marvellous in its evocativeness; the movie is stunningly beautiful, but lacking the space to let the imagination really sense the smells. Maybe it's the combination of a visual feast with a musical score; there just isn't room for scent. And they cropped all the really interesting bits out, and dwelt upon parts that translated to sight for far too long. Two and a half hours, and I felt it about three-quarters of the way through.
I came out of Perfume glad to have seen it, but not interested in ever really seeing it again, not while I've got that magical book on my shelf. It is worth seeing, if only the once. I enjoyed recognising the talent, such Alan Rickman (swoon), John Hurt, and having a flash of recognition at seeing Rachel Hurd-Wood, who played Wendy in the last version of Peter Pan. My, she's growing up. And the location shots are fabulous, especially on the big screen. But if you love the book, as I do, lock up your heart, go with caution, and you'll come out intact. Otherwise, go and see Stranger than Fiction, and hopefully come out elated. And don't forget to tell me what you think of them...