Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events

A couple of weekends ago, the Regent Theatre Trust held its first non-book sale. It focused on DVDs (which all went within minutes of opening), videos, sheet music, paintings and jigsaws. And of course, vinyl recordings by the mile.
I’ve already mentioned that I picked up some music at the sale, but I probably didn’t say I got two DVDs – the only two I could get my hands on in the crush. One was the film version of a book I read in late 2006 when I worked in a very boring job where I had next to nothing to do all day except sit and wait for the phone to ring. Which it didn’t very often. This was Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
I enjoyed the books - there were three in the volume I got, all of which come into the movie. So-called children’s books often have a style and charm that’s lacking in many novels for adults. Of course the movie thins down the storyline considerably, as you’d expect, but it manages to maintain the conversational style of writing by having Snicket as a character in the film (played by Jude Law). What it does even better is cast Jim Carrey as Uncle Olaf, and he gives it everything he’s got. His highly stylised characterisation is wonderful, never missing a beat. He’s surrounded by artwork that is also absolutely spot on. It makes the movie worth watching several times, I’d think.
Some of the other actors aren’t quite as stylish as Carrey, which is a pity. The three children are fine: Liam Aiken, with eyes that convey amazing amounts; Emily Browning, beautiful and resourceful, and the Hoffman twins, who seem to have no qualms about being hung from a table edge with their teeth sunk deep into it. And Timothy Spall is his usual superb self. I’ve never seen him put a foot wrong.
But Billy Connolly, playing the gentle, snake-loving uncle is rather flat and seems to wonder what he’s doing there, and Meryl Streep misses the boat (not literally, as she spends quite a bit of time in one) somehow, something she seldom does.
In the end it’s the children, Carrey and the mise-en-scene that makes this a memorable movie. And of course, Mr Snicket’s humour.

There are times when I could do with a pair of Bose headphones. Even though our tv has surround sound and you can improve the bass, it comes across as very variable. I'm sure the sound would be better heard through headphones, just as it is with my Sibelius music program on the computer.
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