Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Pint of Ale and the Deathly Hallows

The other night we caught a movie at one of our local pub theaters. We love our pub theaters, because 1) $3 admission, and 2) I've yet to see a movie that is not improved by pizza and beer. (Or if you prefer, a vegan wrap and Pinot Noir. This is Portland, after all.) One of our favorites is at the Kennedy School, which is an actual elementary school that sat empty for decades before being converted to a B&B. Guests bunk down in the former classrooms. There's an Honor Bar (no smoking) and a Detention Bar (light `em up!), and the school auditorium is now the theater. Instead of metal folding chairs, though, it's stuffed with vintage sofas, chairs, and loveseats, with little end tables for your grub and ale.

Another of our favorites is the Bagdad Theater.* The Bagdad is one of those old-timey movie palaces from back in the day, with a fabulous Mediterranean decor that has been lovingly restored.

And the movie? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Let me confess right here: I have not read any of the Harry Potter books nor seen any of the movies past The Sorcerer's Stone. Not for any snobbish or disdainful reason...I just sort of haven't gotten around to it. The main reason we picked it was because the showtime fit our evening the best. Sometimes, it's all about going with the flow.

Which goes for the movie, too. Because the last time I looked, Daniel Radcliffe was still like, twelve and had baby fat in his cheeks and he and Emma Watson had the same build. Apparently, much has changed. When you haven't seen a HP movie since little Harry was trying on the Sorting Hat, The Deathly Hallows Part 1 comes at you like a fever dream: gorgeous and incomprehensible. Sudden shifts in scene with no apparent reason...characters I couldn't place saying things I didn't understand...Ralph Fiennes without a nose. But I still had a good time. Although why Harry, Hermione and Ron spend the entire middle of the movie in a tent, moaning about how they have to find Horcruxes and a magical sword, or else all is doomed, but instead of actually searching for the damn things, they listen to the radio and get into snits with each other and then the sword coincidentally shows up like, ten feet from where they're camping...well, maybe it's explained in the book. (But hey, did I mention the scenery was gorgeous?)

So, OK. Apparently it's time I catch up with the biggest cultural phenomenon in living memory. All you Harry Potterities, what do you advise? Read all the books first, then watch the movies? Or watch, then read? Or...?

*Not all the pub theaters in Portland are owned by the McMenamin brothers--there's also the Laurelhurst, which is fabulous--but the McMenamins have four, including Kennedy and the Bagdad. The McMenamins specialize in buying old, abandoned buildings and either restoring them to their original use (like the Crystal Ballroom, which was and is again a dance palace), or converting them (the Chapel Pub used to be a funeral home, and has an eternal flame burning outside; Edgefield used to be the county poor house, later an insane asylum, and now it's a B&B and youth hostel with taverns, a restaurant, a golf course, pub theater, glass-blowing shop, a...oh hell, you just have to go there and see.) All of them are beautifully renovated and loaded with original, custom artwork that just makes me smile. Like this.


Anonymous said...

Aunt Chris, I can't even believe I'm having this conversation with you. Seeing as Harry and co were always my age I spent much of my early teens waiting for the letter to Howarts that had gotten lost in owl post. I am an unabashed, absolutely dedicated and well researched Potterholic and will have to have some serious conversations with you when I get up to Portland. That being said, read the books first. They fly by and have the kind of incredible detail that is so blatantly missing from the (still pretty good) movies. I will defend J.K. Rowling's impact on youth reading until I die (getting a fifth grader to voraciously read 800 pages is no easy feat). OR I'd suggest borrowing my HP audio books read by the fantastic Jim Dale. Don't worry- will take care of this in a couple weeks :)

Andrea said...

I agree with Sara about Jim Dale. I could NOT read the first book, but I could listen to that guy read it. He's absolutely great.

I love the pub theaters too. Cozy and cheap. The St. Johns theater also has pizza and the tickets are only $4.

BTW, Brio is gobbling up carrots (but only if they're lightly steamed). Thank you!

Christine Fletcher said...

Sara--WOOT, I get my own private Potter consult!! I will def read the books 1st. Watching Deathly Hallows, I could practically see the holes where the details would be in the books...a certain look on a character's face, for instance, made me think there was a whole story there that didn't make it into the movie. If that makes any kind of sense. :)

I agree about the impact on youth reading... I LOVED seeing kids walking around with those enormous hardcovers, obviously unable to put them down.

So funny you waited for that letter from Hogwarts! I spent years convinced a horse would somehow appear and change my life forever, just like in National Velvet and The Black Stallion. Still waiting...

Christine Fletcher said...

Andrea--glad the carrots are working for Brio!

Ooh, I forgot about the St. Johns theater! I must say I haven't met a pub theater I didn't like.

My only issue with audiobooks is I don't drive long enough distances often enough to make it through a book. And if I try to listen at home, I fall asleep. So it's traditional paper for me. :)

Melissa Marsh said...

What an awesome, awesome idea! I think there is something similar to those types of theaters here in Lincoln, but y'know, I've never really checked it out before. Must remedy that.

Not a Harry Potter fan. Never read the books. Never really watched the movies. Have no desire to change this status. ;-)

Christine Fletcher said...

Melissa, if Lincoln has pub theaters, you should definitely check them out. Totally different experience than a regular movie theater, and for me at least, a LOT more fun! :)

Lisa Nowak said...

The books are great, the movies I could take or leave. I guess they did their best with them, but really, how do you successfully condense 800 pages into 150 minutes?

If you're going to mention McMennamins, you have to pay tribute to their fries. And Terminator. We can't neglect a tasty beer with such a colorful name. :)

BTW, that's some cool niece you have there. Too bad she never got that letter from Hogwarts.

Christine Fletcher said...

Lisa, I've always wondered that too about the book-->movie transition...seems they'd have to brush with pretty broad strokes to fit these books into movie length, and leave out a lot of detail.

I do love the McMenamins fries! Not a fan of Terminator, though. But yes, those names! Hammerhead, Black Rabbit Porter, Nebraska Bitter...and my favorite, the Ruby.