I had a great day today.
I took off early from work to meet strangers for lunch. That is, I met people I only knew via the internet. In the past, I’ve worried about meeting netfriends — “Will they be the same in person?” I wonder. They’re not. Over the years, I’ve learned that people are almost always even nicer and more interesting in person than they are on-line.
A bunch of geeks had gathered in downtown Portland for Webvisions, a technical conference. At their lunch break, I joined Alan (of bluehole.org), Cat (whom I’d met previously), Paul/PB (who is responsible for the wonderful ORblogs), Matt (who is responsible for much of my lost productivity — he’s the mastermind behind Metafilter and its various spinoffs), and Michael (of whom I knew little before today). We chatted about life over burgers and cokes. It was great to finally meet these people. (And, Tammy — Alan’s a nice guy; you two shouldn’t bicker).
As I walked back to my car, I realized I was near Citizens Photo, one of the professional photography shops in town. I needed a couple of things, and I had some questions, so I stopped by. The fellow who waited on me was actually helpful (I’ve had problems there before), and I was in a rather assertive mood: the combination yielded much information about digital photography, camera equipment, and photoprocessing technique. I’ll have to be assertive more often. I left the store with a new monopod (which can double as a trekking stick), a spare battery for my d70, and two books on processing digital images. I also spent some time chatting with the woman in the photofinishing department, learning what my options are for printing digital photos.
Driving home, I passed the Moreland Theater and noticed that Charlie and Chocolate Factory was playing. “Huh,” I thought to myself, and stopped to see if I could catch a matinee. There wasn’t one to catch, but when I checked at the Oak Grove theater, the show had just begun so I bought a golden ticket.
When I got home, I called Hank and left a message asking if he wants to go see the film. “It’s not scary,” I said. “It’s not even intense.” Actually, maybe it’s a little intense in the nut-sorting room (which is my favorite scene, by the way).
Kris heard me on the phone and stormed into the room. “You are a dead man!” she shouted, but I didn’t know why. “You knew I wanted to see that, and you went without me.” Kris loves Roald Dahl almost as much as Joel does. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of her favorite books. I protested that I was just trying to prolong my good day. “Find another showing right now,” she said. So I did.
“The ticket woman’s going to wonder if I’m crazy,” I said.
Kris shook her head. “She won’t even notice.”
As I paid for the tickets, the ticketwoman gave me a funny look. “Weren’t you here for the last showing?” she asked.
And so I’ve seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory twice already, and plan to see it once more this weekend. Do I like it? Yes, I do. Very much.
To understand that terse review, you need to understand a couple of things:
- Though I enjoy Roald Dahl, I am not what I would term a “fan”. I especially like Danny, Champion of the World and The Fantastic Mr. Fox (the latter of which will soon be a film by Wes Anderson — how’s that for exciting?).
- I generally dislike Tim Burton‘s films. Ed Wood? Left me cold. Sleepy Hollow? Awful, awful movie. Planet of the Apes? One of the worst films I’ve ever seen. In fact, the only Tim Burton film I’ve liked before this is Edward Scissorhands, though admittedly I was quite fond of that.
- Though I thought the trailer for this film was awesome, I went in with low expectations.
- I’d heard all the talk about how Johnny Depp was channeling Michael Jackson for his portrayal of Willy Wonka
A slightly longer review would be: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is great fun, better than my memory of the first film. Johnny Depp is not channeling Michael Jackson, and I’m not sure where the reviewers pulled that from. They should be shot for making the comparison. (Depp’s Wonka is freaky, though — be warned.)
The first thirty minutes of this film (up until they enter the factory) are as near perfect as any adaptation of the book can hope to be. The introduction of each of the kids is fantastic. Kris, the Dahl fan, was giggling with glee at spots. “They got Veruca exactly right,” she whispered to me. The factory is an awesome spectacle. It’s great fun. The nut-sorting room made me giddy with joy. There are plenty of sight gags all around.
I spend a lot of time complaining about movies, so it’s refreshing when I can recommend one. This is the third movie I’ve seen this summer that I’m happy to recommend. (The first two being Batman Begins and War of the Worlds.) Go see it!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my second sleep study. C-PAP machine, here I come…