Today we traversed into Birmingham to go to Beatties to get some knitting pins. We had lunch in the Victorian Restaurant (in the Western Arcade, near Coffee Republic at the back of Rackhams) which was quite pleasant, and experienced the following random amusement: a woman and her mother (presumably) sat at the table near ours just before we left. She perused the menu for a bit, then sent the waitress away to enquire about something I didn't quite hear; on her return, she ordered, as follows:
"Right, I'll have the beans on toast, please. With cheese on top, if possible, but it doesn't matter if not. And can you make sure the beans are well done, please?"
Firstly: who the Hell goes to a restaurant and asks for beans on toast? And secondly: "well done"? How can you even tell?
In other news, Shelleys has relocated to above Barratts on New Street, and, quite frankly, they should've stayed where they were. There's about a quarter of the stock they had before, and none of the interesting/insane drag queen shoes that used to line the shelves. It's too bright, there's only one floor, they've only got brand new stock, and they've ruined my favourite shoe shop. Bastards. Luckily, a discount shoe store has taken up residence in Shelleys' old building, and seems to be selling off all of their old stock, so I'll go there instead.
We also investigated Selfridges for the first time, which was an experience I could happily have lived without. Upon finally gaining entry (dude, seriously, make the doors more obvious) we were assaulted by the smell of coffee, which shortly turned into the smell of hot fat from the sushi bar. The eat-while-you-shop theory is all well and good, but possibly works better in an open space. Ugh. Besides which, the music was annoying and loud, and everything was way out of my price range (though they did have some rather cute Ruby Gloom tops), and the ten minutes we spent in there were ten minutes I would rather have spent, oh, breathing. The Armadillo will not claim another victim in me, no sirree.
And then we went down to UGC to see Finding Neverland, at long last. I'm sure I spotted shoeboxgirly on the way in, incidentally... Review/thoughts follow; possible spoilers.
Okay. So. I had high expectations for this one, as people have been lauding it as one of the prime Oscar candidates for this year, as well as giving high praise to Johnny Depp's performance.
I wasn't disappointed, and they weren't lying.
It's glorious. Johnny Depp is amazing in this film, and it's worth seeing just for that. If you haven't heard already, it's based on the true story behind how J.M.Barrie came to write Peter Pan, from the conception of the idea to the premiere performance of the play. Kate Winslet co-stars as Sylvia Llewellyn-Davies, the widowed mother of four boys who inspire the characters of the play, and Julie Christie plays her mother, Mrs du Maurier.
Depp is wonderful, but that's to be expected. His accent is superb, which is nice, given how appalling he used to be (Chocolat and From Hell being the prime examples) and he seems to have really gotten to the heart of the character. Winslet is also good, though she's becoming rather typecast of late. I was quite amused by the appearance of Julie Christie, one of Britain's original quintessential literary heroines, as she was but one of many small ironic touches in the film. The rest of the cast are also very good, including the four boys and especially the one playing Peter.
Dustin Hoffman also co-stars as Barrie's patron. Irony number 1: he played Hook in Hook. Irony number 2: there's also a sequence where Barrie is play-acting pirates with the boys, whereby he is representing Hook, but whilst wearing a bandana and using an oddly familiar Cockney accent... :)
The relationship between Barrie and his wife, Mary, is set up from the beginning as something that possibly will not last. When she does finally leave him, it's something of a relief, as you definitely get the sense that she doesn't deserve him, especially given that Sylvia and her family clearly do. You spend the majority of the film wanting to hit her mother until the very end, when her Inner Child finally sees the light of day.
It manages to blend fantasy and reality seamlessly, and even though the fantasy scenes are obviously fantasy, they do work very well with the story and demonstrate exactly how Barrie sees things in his own mind and manages to give that magic to everyone else... except Mary, who can never quite see it. She makes the point about how she always hoped he would show her Neverland, and in the end, it's Sylvia - his Muse, in many respects - who visits it, proving that Mary was never meant to find it in the first place.
It has some truly beautiful moments. Barrie reserving 25 seats on the opening night of the play, just for the orphans - the real life Lost Boys; the audience slowly falling in love with Peter Pan after their initial scepticism; the metaphor of Neverland for Heaven, and everything that means after opening night; the calm, silent exit of Mary from his life during his own moment of crisis; Mrs du Maurier during their private showing of the play, finally understanding; the unspoken love between James and Sylvia; and the final scene with Peter, which left me in tears.
And I wasn't the only one. Just like when pandorasblog saw this, after it had ended, there was complete and total silence but for the occasional sniffle, and then, after a few seconds, a sort of general whispering as people started to move. I was frantically grasping for tissues to try and stop the flow of tears, which is the one bad thing about crying at movies in the cinema. At least when you're at home you can have a good cry, hug a pillow, and let your emotional outburst come to its natural end, rather than trying to stop yourself from crying when you really, really want to, and then having to leave the cinema looking all puffy-eyed and sad. But nevertheless, I'm very glad I saw it, because I really would have kicked myself if I'd missed it. Next on my list is Birth or Ladies in Lavendar, and the new adaptation of The Merchant of Venice looks quite good, as does The Forgotten, with Juliana Moore.
Go and see Finding Neverland, people. You won't be disappointed. Johnny Depp so deserves a Best Actor Oscar for that performance, and if he doesn't get one, I'm going to be very annoyed. Kate Winslet probably won't even be nominated for Best Actress, though, as her performance was good, just not outstanding.