It's back to work after a slightly busy, but less busy than I've been lately, weekend. I even managed to start catching up on all the stuff that's been on HBO recently, so I have movies to discuss.
Friday, I took it easy and went for the silly with the latest Night at the Museum movie. These are sort of fun guilty pleasures for me. I'd never have paid actual money to see them in the theater, but they can be entertaining for an evening at home. I enjoy seeing the various guest stars they find to play the historical figures brought to life in the museum. For the previous one, Amy Adams stole the show as Amelia Earhart, but in this one, it was Dan Stevens (best known so far for Downton Abbey) completely stealing the movie with a 100 percent all-in take on Lancelot. In fact, he was going so far into it that I had to pull up IMDB on my phone to figure out who he was. The voice was so familiar, but I couldn't place him, and I think most of it was not just the beard and longer hair but also the swagger and attitude that were the complete opposite of Matthew. We got an absolutely sublime scene in which Lancelot, who's totally unaware that he's actually a museum wax figure brought to life, heads out of the museum to find Camelot, ending up at a theater production of the musical, where he confronts Arthur, played by Hugh Jackman, who has to convince "Lancelot" that he's not really Arthur, just an actor playing the role, at which point Lancelot calls Hugh Jackman out on being a liar and a fraud for pretending to be Arthur, and Hugh Jackman goes into Wolverine mode until the actress playing Guinevere says it doesn't work as well without the metal claws and with his shirt on. And I am not making any of that up. It really happened in the movie. Meanwhile, Dan Stevens is playing it totally straight with the kind of intensity he might give to Hamlet and I think Hugh Jackman is having to bite his tongue to keep a straight face.
So, anyway, that was a lot of fun, though it was a little sad that it was Robin Williams' last on-screen appearance.
Then I was very glad to find that the new version of Far from the Madding Crowd was available on demand because I wanted to see it but didn't make it to the theater while it was showing (because it was only at a few of the art houses that are inconvenient to get to and it didn't stay long). I went through my emo, moody, dramatic teen phase in my early 20s, but instead of indulging it by reading books about brooding vampires, I read depressing Victorian literature, including a lot of Thomas Hardy. Seeing movie versions takes me back to the days of my youth, and I think this was a pretty good adaptation. Of course, it misses a lot, but I think it still gets in that sense of how vulnerable women could be and how hard it would have been for a woman to be able to maintain her power and independence if she had any at all. For those unfamiliar with the story, it's about a woman who inherits a farm, leaving her independent and not needing a husband to provide for her, so she's reluctant to marry and give up that independence, since according to the laws of that time, her husband would then own all her property. She's wooed by the shepherd who loved her before she became wealthy and who stays by her even as their fortunes reverse, the wealthy neighbor who wants to unite their farms, and a dashing rogue of a soldier. I suppose you could look at them as each representing reasons a woman might marry, for help and companionship, for economic reasons, or for passion.
But mostly, it's all about how true love runs out before a storm to cover the harvest so it won't be ruined. And lots of English countryside scenery porn. Not to mention an attractive man doing nice things and being good with animals. I may have to watch it again, for science. I'm also kind of in the mood to re-read the book.
I guess the reason I had to go through my teen moody phase in my twenties was that I completely failed at it in my teens. When I was feeling moody and retreated to my room to listen to music and sulk, I listened to ABBA, or sometimes the Sound of Music soundtrack. I think I was doing it wrong.