I got to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! And it was great! One of those movies that I wouldn’t mind seeing again while it’s in theaters. And also one of those movies that I didn’t knit during, mostly because I finished Henry’s hat and didn’t want to work on the Green Wood cardi – laceweight yarn on size 1.5 needles in the dark? No, thank you. So I helped my middle son demolish a large bucket of popcorn and a giant box of Junior Mints.
This week also saw the demise of our premium cable plan; too much of our monthly budget was getting munched up by the cable bill, so I had to say an abrupt good bye to all our movie channels (Showtime, Cinemax, Epix) and some of the more premium but still laden with commercials channels, like Sundance, which means I’ll have to finish watching the final season of Rectify on Netflix or Amazon Streaming.
Luckily I live in an area covered by 3 local PBS stations – Maryland Public Television, WETA (the Greater Washington DC area), WHUT (Howard University) – all with different programming schedules, and some with more than one available channel. If I can’t find something to watch on PBS, I default to Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I can’t tell you what classic movies I’ve been watching because I’ve had the TV on mainly for background noise.
I do know that Auntie Mame will be on Thursday evening; if you haven’t seen it and you can carve out some time on Thanksgiving (see what I did there?) or set your DVR or get ahold of it some other way, you should – it’s funny and heartwarming and absurd and just all-around pretty amazing – it’s possibly my all-time favorite movie. I loved it so much, I bought the book and then the biography of Patrick Dennis, the author, whose life was even more fascinating than Mame’s. However, you have to watch the 1958 version with Rosalind Russel (I tracked down her autobiography, Life is a Banquet, because of Mame too). I tried watching the 1974 musical version with Lucile Ball, Mame, and I couldn’t get through it. I really wanted to like it but Ball isn’t at her best – she was in her 60s when it was made – and Rosalind Russel just really nailed it.
I think I may have just talked myself into popping the DVD in today so I can spare my children from having to watch it again with me. Nah – just kidding: I’m still going to make them watch it with me sometime before Christmas.
This week, I watched all of The Crown while I was knitting. I didn’t mean to watch it all in one week, but once I got started I couldn’t stop. It’s a Netflix series and Netflix makes it very easy to binge watch, even with the “Are you still watching?” query every 3 hours or so. Claire Foy is the newly married Queen Elizabeth II and the series is supposed to follow her story to the present day, though the last episode of the first season is set in 1955ish. Standout performances for me, in addition to Claire Foy, are John Lithgow playing Winston Churchill and Jared Harris as King George VI. And I suppose Matt Smith playing Philip, but I have to say: what a jerk he was, which is probably part of the point – it took him a while to “settle down” as they say. Good news for me (and you): Netflix has ordered a second season and rehearsals have begun. Until then, I should probably watch it all again to pick up all the things I’m sure I missed in the first go.
Yesterday afternoon, I took myself to the movies for a 12:40 showing of Dr. Strange. I went to the Alamo Drafthouse, which has reserved seating with tables (really it’s a long counter) and full service, including a bar (that I don’t take advantage of) and full meals. I got coffee and fresh baked (warm!) chocolate chip cookies. The pre-show is tailored for each movie and unique to the Alamo; the pre-show for Dr. Strange had trivia, clips from other productions of the story (live action and cartoon), and more. Another great thing: they have very subtle downlighting under the tables, so that makes it easy to knit during the movie. I took Henry’s hat with me and knit about 3 inches of it in the dark.
The greatest thing of all about the Alamo: they don’t tolerate talking, texting, cell phones at all; you write your food order or your complaint about the noisy people in the next row on a sheet of paper (pen & paper provided), stick it in this slot in the table/counter so it sticks up so the waiter can see it, and voila: your wish is their command. If you make a noise complaint, the manager will boot out the offending party without a warning. Or that’s the threat anyway – I have yet to witness anyone being thrown out and everyone has been blessedly quiet, unlike most of the other local theaters.
The movie itself was good but unsurprising for the genre. Benedict Cumberbatch has an American accent, and it’s very good, but I’m used to hearing his British accent so that was kind of a let down. He’s still pretty great as an egotistical neurosurgeon turned sorcerer/dimension manipulator. Tilda Swinton is in it as well, and the main reason I wanted to see the movie – she generally chooses interesting projects to work on. And she got to keep her accent. Other standouts: Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, the eye makeup on Kaecilius and his buddies, the special effects (reminiscent of Inception and Dark City), and the sassy, snappy cape cloak.