Sunday, March 04, 2007

An Unreasonable Man: A Tale of Three Movies and a Bookstore

Two Saturdays ago Stephanie and I tried to see "The Lives of Others" at E Street, which we are learning will constantly sell out movies hours ahead of time. If you don't know the movie, it won Best Foreign Film this year, so do you live in a cave with your ears shut and a bag over your head? Because that's one explanation.

Anyway, it was sold out. We stamped our feet and threw a little tantrum and wondered, oh, wondered -- what do we do for fun? Then we noticed that a film with much less critical acclaim was playing around the same time; we went for it. I can say the following about "Amazing Grace," starring Ioan Gruffudd of "King Arthur" fame: it would have made a very good four-hour miniseries on the BBC. As it is, it feels like a BBC miniseries somewhat awkwardly adapted to the screen. There are the usual powdered wigs, the ridiculous accents (is Ciaran Hinds really that plummy? Who can say!?), the English countryside, the bountiful bosoms and all the rest. It is saved by the fact that the English abolitionist movement is an interesting and not well understood phenomenon that makes for a good, if predictable and one-sided, historicoromance, which is a word I had to make up to describe it.

On our way out of the theater, we saw Ralph Nader sitting at a table in the lobby.

We didn't know exactly what he was doing there, but the documentary about him was playing (presumably opening) at the same theater that night, and he was there to sign his new book and maybe -- we weren't there -- to talk before or after the film played. To be honest, I agree with about maybe half of what he says and find him insufferable for the rest, so I wasn't particularly starstruck, especially because living here has completely desensitized me to seeing public figures. (Although catching Trent Lott in the halls of Congress with his toupee slightly askew will always be with me.) I wondered what to do, as a good journalist would, but ended up staring at him from about his 4 o'clock as he talked to a few people until Stephanie got out of the bathroom. Then we left. I figured he was gone.

Yesterday we passed him on our way up to the second floor of the Metro Center Barnes & Noble. He was downscalatering to the info booth. Maybe there was a problem with the bathroom tissue. I don't know. Or it could have had to do with their treatment of him as he tried to hold a book signing. Perhaps the chair was uncomfortable.

We finally saw "The Lives of Others." It's very good. We also, since then, saw "Avenue Montaigne," which is hard to excuse on any but the most optimistically romantic pretext. It's a harmless way to pass the time, but don't be fooled by critics who try to make it sound like anything better than that. It wasn't made with ideas in mind. Paris sure is pretty, though.


Anonymous mikeswanson said...

Screw you for calling Ralph Nader an unreasonable man, state your reasoning. If you're gonna say "cause there are certain political realities in this country he shouldn't mess with" then don't bother to post.

5:03 AM  

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