...put it this way: if, like me, you grew up in the 1970s, there's a good chance you will have very fond memories of the Filmfair Paddington series, with its stop-motion puppet Paddington against 2D backgrounds, voiced by Michael Hordern. This is not that Paddington, and if you go into it expecting or wanting that Paddington, you will be disappointed. This is an entirely new adaptation of Michael Bond's Paddington books, told in live action with an incredibly realistic CGI Paddington. It foregoes the vignette approach of the 1970s series (and indeed the original books) in favour of a 95-minute story (although at least one incident has its origins in the novels), which gives Paddington a back-story, tells of how he meets Mr & Mrs Brown (and Jonathan and Judy), and introduces drama in the form of an evil taxidermist played with aplomb (I think that's the right word) by Nicole Kidman.
The plot is solid and exciting, the cast is simply to die for (Hugh Bonneville, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi...), and there's loads of humour. The overall feel of the film can best be summed up as joyous. It's a great feel-good film, ideal for adults and children (probably at least as good as pantomime as something to take the kiddies to see this Christmas). If you've ever seen the Wallace & Gromit films and shorts (and Chicken Run too, for that matter), it's almost like a live action of one of those. Well worth a watch.
Then this weekend (Saturday 13th) I went with m'beloved Sarah to see The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies. Gotta be honest, I have reservations about the Hobbit films in general, which are probably not too different from other people's reservations - there was no need to make a fairly inconsequential book into a trilogy of films, the films contain a heck of a lot of padding, extraneous characters have been introduced for no particularly good reason... Etc., etc. However, whilst that means they're maybe not perfect adaptations of Tolkien's original novel, they are, in fairness, good films in their own right, and serve as satisfying prequels to the LOTR films. This final Hobbit film neatly wraps up the Hobbit trilogy (and the Middle Earth hexalogy) with some great action set pieces (albeit some implausible gravity-defying leaps courtesy of Legolas...) and an ending that rewards those who've watched these films since 2001.
On which note, here, have Billy Boyd singing The Last Goodbye from the film's soundtrack:
After that, I headed down to my old stamping ground, Raynes Park Methodist Church, where Lantern Arts' latest play was a musical adaptation of Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street, which was a good way of getting me into the Christmas spirit, well acted, some enjoyable songs (although occasionally the lyrics were hard to hear). It was enjoyable to be there, and although I suspect most of the people I used to know have moved on, there were a few familiar faces there (including multiclassgeek, who has recently-ish become involved with them). I'm hoping to see their next production, a staging of The Crucible. As I've never seen it at all ever, that can be a little blip in my cultural education remedied. :-)
And as it was playing after Mo34thS, here, have some Mariah Carey: