Maybe I can detach from the squirrel if I watch another James McAvoy movie. He keeps showing up, but I never recognize him until I read the credits. Last night I watched him in the Last King of Scotland. (Dan was asleep in bed with another little lady, Claire.) Loved it. Dan woke up after it was over, just before I was going to rave about it here last night, but instead we stayed up talking about it. He saw it on the ship when he was in Africa, so it had an immediacy for him. We differed a little on our takes: He argued that Idi Amin, awesomely played by Forrest Whitaker, is the main character, while I posited that the character McAvoy plays, Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, is the hero because he undergoes this huge conversion at the end. Dan didn't think the Garrigan conversion was as dramatic as I did; he saw the descent into the madness of Amin as the drama of the movie. However, I'd argue that the Garrigan character, who is very fictionalized version of a British officer who became one of Amin's advisors (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idi_Amin_Dada), makes as dramatic a change. He begins his stay in Uganda as a volunteer doctor trying to escape his father and wooing all kinds of women. Self-absorbed and immature, he is won over by Amin's charm, but by the end of the movie, he sacrifices himself to save a young soldier who is about to die because of Garrigan's attempt to poison Amin to end the violence. Excellent filmmaking and storytelling, but not for sensitive stomachs.
In between watching this, Hotel Rwanda, reading Immaculee Ilibagiza's Left to Tell, and even Black Hawk Down, (not all this weekend) we're left amazed at the endurance of the human spirit. Dan saw a bit of that resilience during the humanitarian exercise last spring, but needs are so great. I can sympathize with those that ask why, if we intervene in Iraq, don't we elsewhere, but then there is also the nagging fact that the radicals also want to see Americans dead. Movies with the same theme, different places: The Wind that Shakes the Barley, and Pan's Labyrinth, which we watched this weekend. Eliz, I know you loved PL, and I thought it was really good, but I wished the two threads - little Ofelia's fantasy and the betrayal of the Capitan - were woven together better. It was not the stomach puncher that Last King was.
My other encounter this weekend with McEvoy was in Becoming Jane, which I thought I was going to hate because of its revisionist promos asserting that if Jane Austen wrote so convincingly about love it must have been because she had some torrid affair. But I ended up thoroughly enjoying it, maybe because the star actors did such a good job. Anne Hathaway who played Jane was way better than Keira Knightley in the new P and P. Of course, it ends up making it seem that Pride and Prejudice is veiled autobiography, but it was entertaining watching.
Another fun literary watch from the weekend: Miss Potter. I was impressed that Renee Zellwenger did a decent job. But then it probably would have been improved if James McAvoy were the leading man. Since I hadn't recognized him in Last King of Scotland, I looked him up online and found out that,not only did he do a great job in Atonement, he was also Mr. Tumnus. I guess this goes to show that I am a willing suspender of disbelief when I watch movies and don't recognize famous people very well. And that I'll be willing to watch any movie with James McAvoy in it from now on. Maybe. (No worries, Husby, he's probably a jerk in real life.)
Before I close, I just want to share our newest home improvement project, gratis Brian Cook. Doesn't it make our office look more official? I appreciate the storage space, and we've had fun debating what should go on the shelves. If I had time and money, maybe I'd do something cute like get matching organizational baskets or wrap up some cardboard boxes in maps or glue some decorative border on the shelf edges (Mikko suggested ribbon, but what if I typed up the names of my favorite authors in decorative shadow type and cut them in a thin strip to echo the architrave on the old downtown Norfolk library? Too pretentious?)