We have now become the last people in the western hemisphere to own a Wii. This is thanks to my wife’s considerable perseverance and the power of Ebay, which is a little like the power of Greyskull but less melodramatic. Haven’t played much so far but the sheer novelty of the Wii remote infuses even the most mundane game with a mixture of fun and frustration. At some point this will seem natural, but right now it’s like gaming with my feet. In a good way.
Interfering with our Wii-ing has been a flurry of cinemagoing this weekend.
On Friday we saw Ratatouille, which is a hugely enjoyable, warm and funny film with gorgeous animation. After an hilarious Pixar animated short (Lifted) the start of the film isn’t especially promising. Perhaps it’s my endless overexposure to the trailers and anti-piracy adverts but initially the narration feels a little too ingratiating and explanatory. It wasn’t until about fifteen minutes in that the film truly sucked me in, but after that it didn’t spit me back out until the end. Some great gags and action set-pieces, careful character work, and Paris has never looked more lovely. I thought they didn’t make cartoons like this any more?
Today we finally got in to see Stardust, which was sold out on Friday. It’s as untidily plotted as most of Gaiman’s long fiction, but in hindsight that’s also its real strength. It’s an unruly, quirky fairy story that gradually works its way under your skin without making too many concessions to Hollywood. As with Ratatouille the start stumbles slightly in trying to concisely set everything up, and until about halfway through it’s an enjoyable but fairly unremarkable film with a very British sensibility and some stubbornly ragged edges. After that the film becomes exponentially more surefooted and entertaining and its ragged edges begin to seem refreshing instead of awkward. At some point before the end I realised I was having a hugely good time. Charlie Cox is great in the lead, De Niro puts in some great comedy work, and the greek chorus of ghostly princes is genius. The obvious point of comparison is The Princess Bride in its fusion of earnest, flippant and fun, but really Stardust is only like itself. Increasingly so as it goes along.