Last night Kam and I went to a lovely Burmese/Chinese restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, a place called Rangoon that we happened across in an online review. We'd never had Burmese food before, so we ordered paratha (which in this rendition was kind of like thick green-onion pancakes without the green onion), a mild vegetable curry that I forgot the name of (something Hin, but I gather that "Hin" just means "curry"), and a Burmese chicken curry. It was all good, and I thought the paratha and veggie curry were delicious. I wasn't as thrilled with the chicken curry as with the other stuff, but it certainly wasn't bad, and Kam liked it a lot.
(After typing that paragraph I took a brief time-out to listen to a tune that came up on iTunes: possibly my favorite English-dance tune, graced with the unlovely name "Dick's Maggot," as performed by Bare Necessities. I'm not sure how much of my appreciation for it is the tune and the performance, which are both very nice, and how much is the fact that it's what I learned to waltz to. But more on that another time.)
So anyway, after dinner we walked over to the Aquarius Theater to see Bend It Like Beckham, a totally charming comedy about a South Asian girl in the UK who wants to be a football (soccer) player. (If you look at the IMDB page, do not read the quotes page, as it contains a major spoiler.) It doesn't transcend its genre, but it's full of delightful little unexpected variations on what I expected. It's well-acted, and very funny, and though it does rely on humor-of-embarrassment, it doesn't dwell on it. The characters are all sympathetic and likeable. It's written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, the writer and director of Bhaji on the Beach. It's got plenty of eye-candy for all tastes: two attractive female leads (one South Asian, one caucasian), an attractive caucasian male lead, and lingering closeups on a poster of a very attractive caucasian soccer player. :) All of the acting is good. The movie's a bit heavy-handed in places, and a bit predictable in places, and a bit obvious in places, but it's so damn charming that we just didn't care about any of that.
The rest of the audience loved it too—we were seeing the second sold-out showing of the night (in a small art theatre, though), and I missed a few lines here and there because of audience laughter. (Also because of accents.) But only a few.
When I got home, I poked around on IMDB to find out who the actors were, and found a couple interesting items.
First, the female caucasian lead was Keira Knightley, who played (spoilers for The Phantom Menace!) Sabé, the double, in TPM. About which she says: ". . . they didn't have real lightsabers, which annoyed me." She's also going to be the female lead in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which will also feature Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Jonathan Pryce.
But much more interesting to me is that the male caucasian lead was Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who played Steerpike in the Gormenghast TV miniseries (which I haven't seen, but he'd be perfect for the part), and is going to play Schmendrick (!) in—I can't believe I hadn't heard this was happening—next year's live-action movie of The Last Unicorn.
Now, I am deeply dubious about another movie of Unicorn. The book is probably in my top ten all-time favorite books; but the 1982 Rankin-Bass animated movie, with songs, featuring voices of Alan Arkin (Schmendrick), Jeff Bridges (Lir), Mia Farrow (Unicorn), Angela Lansbury (Mommy Fortuna), Christopher Lee (Haggard), Keenan Wynn (Cully), and Rene ("Odo") Auberjonois (The Skull), was disappointing and forgettable. (I recall thinking at the time that the one good thing about the movie was that the unicorn moved the way a unicorn should move.)
And yet, hope springs a turtle. This new live-action version will have a new screenplay written by Beagle (though I think he also wrote the screenplay for the animated version), and will feature—hmm, an oddly familiar list of names: Christopher Lee as Haggard, Mia Farrow as Molly Grue, Angela Lansbury as Mommy Fortuna, Rene Auberjonois as Captain Cully. Fascinating.
Also fascinating is the official site for the movie, which (though various aspects don't inspire confidence) includes, among other things, a complete copy of the script (as of a couple years ago) in RTF form. I've never heard of anyone doing that. Actually, that and various other things (like the fact that the site has apparently barely been updated in a couple years, though the movie's supposed to go into production in a couple months) make me wonder whether this production is for real, and/or is still happening. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
The animations and early production-design sketches and models on the site aren't bad, but aren't great either. The unicorn is graceful, but the horn's a little short, and there's just a touch of My Little Pony. But the model and the animation are very preliminary; presumably it'll be refined a lot before the movie's done.
I still haven't yet seen a drawing of a unicorn that I liked better than Darrell K. Sweet's cover of one edition of Last Unicorn: basically a white deer with a horn, rather than a horse. It conveys both the wildness and the grace much better, for me, than a horse does.
I bet some of you thought this entry was going to mention zombie unicorns, didn't you?