Sunday, February 26, 2006

If it comes in pints, I'll have one (or two)

What a great evening I had yesterday. It pretty much made up for the less than great winter vacation I spent mostly fighting off a cold and other ailments and studying for a boring exam. (Which, if I'm extremely lucky with my guesses, might get a passing grade - I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)

First of all, I started my evening at the housewarming party of Kaisa and Tero. Loads of friends and excellent discussions, heaps of tasty snacks and plenty of beverages, of which I didn't drink that much at all, due to my plans for the rest of the evening. But during the couple of hours I stayed at the party I was once again convinced that K&T sure know how to throw a good party. A room full of likeminded people lively chatting about lj's, Harry Potter, fanfic, translating literature, thesis writing problems (problems I share with Anckyria), television series, cars - you name it, it was probably discussed during the evening.

In other words, I know I left an excellent party behind, when I headed out for my "Muggle Evening" with my darling friend Satu. We had a leisurely plan: a movie and a couple of beers in a local Irish pub.

We went to see the movie The New World by Terrence Malick, starring such names as Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, David Thewlis and Q'Orianka Kilcher. I didn't know what to expect from the film, since I unfortunately haven't seen the previous movies by Malick and I hadn't read that much about this particular movie, either. Only that it is now Oscar nominated and highly praised by at least some critics.

What we saw was a breathtakingly beautiful, quiet, yet powerful movie. The story is, of course, a retelling of the story of "Pocahontas" and John Smith, in early 17th century settlement of Jamestown in Virginia.

In 1607 a small group of English settlers arrives in Virginia. Their aim is to build up a fort and lay down the foundations for a larger settlement. They don't arrive in empty lands, though. They encounter natives, of a tribe lead by a respected chief, Powhatan. His most beloved daughter, Pocahontas, eventually saves the life of an Englishman, John Smith. The incredients of one of the most famous love stories of all times are in place. Smith and young Pocahontas learn from each other and fall in love, only to be separated by life. Smith refuses to use the princess as a hostage and doesn't dare to think of a life with her. He returns to England by his king's command and asks that after two months time Pocahontas will be told he has died at sea. Pocahontas crumbles at the news and continues living in the settlement, subdued and hopeless, bound now by the standards (and corsets) of the English life style. In the end she accepts the proposal of John Rolfe and becomes his wife and the mother of his son. The life of the proud princess, now named Rebecca, ends in England, however, as the king and queen of England request her to present herself in court. Rebecca and her family travel to the land of her husband, where she is a success in court, but where she finally falls ill and dies far away from her native lands.

Terrence Malick is said to be a director who is obsessed with nature and quite possibly slightly too ambiguous in his storytelling to appeal to larger audiences. I think this is clearly visible in The New World. The movie is at times almost as a nature documentary, with the vibrant sceneries of Virginia in lead role. Combine this with stunning sunsets and sunrises, expert use of light, shade and camera angles in all the scenes and the sounds of nature all around, and you've got an aesthetically extremely pleasing film. This is only accentuated by the slow paced storytelling and the lingering close-ups of the characters. The whole movie is almost like a poem, and I felt very calm when leaving the theatre.

The casting of the movie is also excellent. Q'Orianka Kilcher is just about perfect as Pocahontas. She isn't overshadowed by her more experienced fellow actors (this was her big screen debut), but is able to build a believable and lovable character. Her Pocahontas is innocent, tragic, frail, strong, loving and human. And the camera seems to love her features.

I was also quite impressed by Colin Farrell - or at least by his eyes. He seemed to do most of the acting with his eyes in this one. There isn't that much dialogue to start with (most of the spoken words of the movie are voiced over thoughts of the characters, not in dialogue form), but Farrell is the sometimes confused, sometimes tough and sometimes very gentle man John Smith is depicted as in this story. Quite expressive eyes, he has. (And not bad hair, either...)

All in all I thought the movie was beautiful. It is not a wild adventure or a thrilling drama, but it's a thoughtful description of two cultures meeting and a touching love story. If you think you can handle a less direct way of storytelling and enjoy a quiet journey, I recommend you go see this one.

Satu and I continued our evening at The Castle, a new Irish pub quite close to the movie theatre. It turned out to be a place worth visiting and we were doubly delighted when we noticed it was actually an evening with live music there. So we got our drinks (a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale for me, thanks) and wandered to front row to listen to the band playing Irish music. At best it almost felt like we were in a real Irish pub in Ireland - even though we haven't been to Ireland. But it felt like it, alright. And we weren't approached by more than one drunkard, who amused us to no end claiming he was very cute when he's sober. Satu was all pins and needles and I almost spilled my beer trying not to laugh out loud when she calmly said to the guy that cuteness clearly was a feature which is accentuated by being sober. I could see the guy's brain try to work that out, hah. We're not an easy couple of gals to approach, if we don't want to be approached. Which usually is the case when someone has had a lot too much to drink.

We stayed till about 2.00 a.m. and headed home both feeling good and happy. A perfect evening. Must go back to The Castle soon. A nice pub, indeed.

What else could one want from a Saturday evening? Good friends, an excellent movie, couple of pints of good beer, jolly good music and everything. I think my annoyingly good mood will continue, even though it's back to work tomorrow.

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