Apart from Arrival, I managed to find a bit more time over Christmas than usual to watch shows.
Ghoti organized for everybody to go to the Disney On Ice show at the O2. I enjoyed it a lot, partly as an experience. Just being in that huge arena with tens of thousands of people, mostly under-tens and their attendants, and a huge proportion of them dressed as Elsa and everybody really really excited about the amazing treat. The show itself was enjoyable too; it was more or less, dances based on key scenes from Frozen, assuming that the audience would already be familiar with the story, though there was a bit of narration and dialogue. It was a really big-scale production, great lighting and special effects. The inflatable ice-monster was something to see! The ice dancing was pretty cool, with a few exciting jumps and lifts and so on, but what really sold it for me was the bits beyond conventional figure skating. I was particularly impressed by the dancers who managed comic pratfalls and pretend clumsiness, pretty hard to pull off on ice, not to mention a whole bunch of running up and down stairs. Especially Sven the reindeer :-)
I also got to see Rogue One, with jack, cjwatson and Judith, and fivemack. You should understand that I am the opposite of a proper Star Wars fan; I've seen only A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (so please don't spoil me for Return of the Jedi, which I intend to get round to at some point). So I was pleased to get a trip to the cinema with my people, but I wasn't massively excited about a new Star Wars film as a grand event, nor particularly invested in whether it's faithful to the spirit of the originals, compatible with the Extended Universe, etc.
I mostly enjoyed the film, though it's slightly forgettable and I probably wouldn't have bothered if it weren't, you know, Star Wars. It's a bit more of a war movie than I usually prefer, which I suppose makes sense because it's right there in the name of the franchise, but I was looking for more epic drama and space battles, and less grim ground fighting and moral ambiguity. I mean, it's not exactly realistic, it's still on a pretty grand heroic scale, and I can see why a lot of the audience were excited for a somewhat more nuanced story. I personally wanted something more escapist, though, and not even a minor reminder of actual real-world wars and oppression and death.
I liked the characters a lot, Cassian and Bodhi especially, and I think Jyn made an excellent protagonist. And I absolutely adored the sarcasm droid K-2SO. I was definitely impressed by how they connected the story to the opening of ANH. I found myself reluctantly dragged into rooting for the Rebels, which is an achievement because I usually find it pretty hard to care about plucky freedom fighters in films. The plot is not exactly sensible, but it's right on a story-telling level, it works just as space opera should, exciting if you don't think about the details too hard.
I failed to get any inkling why racists thought this film was somehow Jewish. I mean, it's kind of anti-Nazi, but that's a pretty low bar, just about every Hollywood film ever has thinly disguised Nazis as villains. I'm happy to take the credit for every film ever that has the thinnest possible token attempt at racial diversity, especially if it annoys racists, but really, there's nothing that stood out about this film.
When we got in from the film, Andreas wanted me to watch an episode of TV with him, which I was happy to do. He selected If you give a mouse a Christmas cookie, which is really quite long – I was expecting a 15 or 20 minute episode of a kids' series like Imagination movers. I don't suspect him of exactly planning things out to keep me longer than I'd intended, and most times I'd be fine with it anyway, it's just that I didn't really want to watch an hour-long show straight after a feature film at the cinema. Anyway I enjoyed IYGaMaCC, it's a nice little story and really charmingly animated. I think it's something of a classic, but I'd never seen it before.
And finally towards the end of Christmas I watched White Christmas with Ghoti. The film surprised me by how sweet it is. I loved that the main plot is about the friendship between two ex-soldiers and their machinations to help their old general without him knowing that he's being helped, and the romance is sort of incidental. Also the film is quite clear on consent and things like a fake engagement go horribly wrong and are saved by people actually communicating. The dresses are gorgeous; I had not quite realized that the US didn't have clothes rationing in the 40s. I am ridiculously in love with this dress, and I'm going to try to source a replica of it somehow.
To a modern viewer the relationship between the two male leads looks really romantic, though I don't suppose it was meant that way. I also thought I spotted a queer couple in the background of one of the dancing scenes, but when we looked closely I think it was a man with a slightly butch woman, rather than two men. The thing where everybody randomly breaks into song makes a lot more sense than in most musicals, and I like the title song a lot better now I understand that it comes from the context of a bunch of soldiers in Monte Cassino who don't know if they're going to get out alive to celebrate Christmas back at home with their families. I'd only heard it as being generally soppy and overdone.
Also, Ghoti suggested that if she'd dragged me into watching Christmas movies, she should reciprocate by watching a chanukah movie with me. Which is a really sweet thought, but I'm not sure if there's such a thing as a chanukah movie! Does anyone have any suggestions? I mean, that whole New York Jewish custom of eating Chinese food and watching a movie on Christmas Day, is there any particular film that's traditional? Or failing that, perhaps a Jewish themed film (I thought of Yentl or maybe the film of Potok's The Chosen, which I haven't seen), or one that's about identity and resistance to assimilation and rebelling against an oppressive régime. Preferably not Holocaust-related, that really doesn't seem a suitable topic for a date movie. It did occur to me that Rogue One could be considered a pretty suitable thing to watch during chanukah, since it's about a miraculous victory for a no-hope strike against an oppressive empire...
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