I took Wednesday off to spend time with Liz on her birthday, but since she told me that I didn't have to be there for every waking moment, I went to see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World at the Loews Kips Bay Theater. I love going to weekday matinees: there's never a crowd in the theater, no lines at concessions or the bathrooms, so it's always a pleasant experience. The movie was excellent, easily one of the best movies I've seen so far this year. I liked that there wasn't any attempt to introduce the audience to the crew of the ship. The movie started with the ship already at sea for weeks, and the viewer had to meet the sailors as the story progressed. It was as if I had been dropped onto the ship and at times it felt like I was actually a part of the crew. I really enjoyed the way the movie portrayed life at sea in 1805: the traditions, the ceremony, the habits of the officers and crew. The battle scenes were as harrowing as I imagined 19th-century naval warfare to be, especially the first engagement between the two ships. I thought the music and the score was outstanding, especially the use of Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for the funeral scenes. Russell Crowe clearly enjoyed being back in a commanding role, and Paul Bettany as the ship's doctor and captain's best friend was an excellent counterpoint. It was a great movie, but I'm not sure it's going to be a Best Picture nominee. I think there are going to be too many other good movies this year that will edge it out. However, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Crowe or Bettany get acting nominations out of it. Their performances were just that compelling.
By the way, the movie is playing all over Manhattan, but the Kips Bay theater has it on a DLP screen, so that's why I trekked all the way downtown for it. Always go digital if you can.