Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blogging Vancouver: Nighttime Tomfoolery

Let's do this in reverse.

So, after the interminable trailers and loud commercials, we settled in to watch Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Given the reviews, I was not expecting much. The visuals were, by halves, great ... that is to say, when the movie was not mucking around in the uninteresting details of Bess, the lady in waiting, there were some nice scenes. Pity that they were historically so feeble. As Frobisher pointed out, she did not live a church. I do not believe that she ever dressed up like Joan of Arc in armor on a horse and gave a speech to the troops waiting to be slaughtered by the Spanish. Mary's execution, so dramatic in the film, was actually botched and they hacked her head of with multiple blows. And the notion that Walter Raleigh single-handedly fired a ship and then jumped into the English Channel presumably to swim back to shore safely is laughable. And whether old Queen Bess was an emtionl wreck or not is not nearly as interesting as how she managed to rule for so long and with such success.

So historical inaccuracy is only part of what drives me nuts. I think history is drama enough, and mucking up with tawdry love affairs and feelings of betrayal just makes it so ... so cheap. Now why would anyone want to make a film cheap? The answer is in the hideous experience of going to a multiplex.

Now they have multiplexes all over the place, and I did not need to come to Vancouver to endure one. But dear Frobisher and AW, my hosts, are more socialized than I am, and they not only knew about the movie's location, but also how to get there, and what to do when we got there. I'll skip the parking garage nightmare on Burrard Street. But how can I skip the pigsty aesthetics of the multiplex ... garbage everywhere, cheap architecture gussied up to pretend to more than it is, broken toilets, sullen unkempt staff. And rackety customers. Cranky!

But that is par for the course. What really boiled me was the endless trailers. We got there early on the theory that the show would be sold out. So we saw every bleeding one of the things, as well as ads for toothpaste and monster trucks, exhortations not to pirate movies and to throw your garbage out. By the advertised start time, we'd had our fill ... but, noooooo ... 15 more minutes of this endless captive torture. No wonder I avoid movie theaters like the plague. Yes, very cranky.

I suppose part of the crankiness was in response to a rather bad Greek meal at one Simpatico's on 4th Avenue that advertises itself as purveyors of cuisine in the Greco-Roman tradition ... just what would that be, now? I suppose it means carelessly prepared Greek food and substandard pizza on the same menu. I can only guess about the pizza, but my souvlaki was fast-food good, AW declined to eat his calamari dinner, and Frobisher choked his way through a couple of vinegary appetizers. The not-very-Greek waitress didn't like us ... we were obviously not going to drop a bunch of money and get drunk and leave a big tip. At least she moved us through the experience at a fast rate.

Greek food comes in two types, with no room in between ... good and bad. The good is prepared with care with good ingredients ... funny, that ... and the bad is based on the assumption that if you paint the palce blue and say "retsina" once in a while, people will eat anything. The worst restaurant meal of my life was in a Greek place in Amsterdam. Last night, the good Greek place had a line out the door. So we ended up Simpatico. Worse than we bargained for.

But other than all that, it was a fine evening ... good company with no end of the ribald sarcasm for which we hold ourselves famous ... we did shut up for the movie, though, but that is only because we are Canadian-polite

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