If you have a chance to go to a Variety screening event, skip it unless you are on a VIP list. We got to the theatre about an hour and 45 minutes before the film was scheduled to run. There were already 200 or so people in line in front of us. Our friends joined us about 10 minutes later when the line started disappearing around the corner out onto Sunset Boulevard. One of our group found out that the theatre seated 400 people, so we should have no trouble getting in, right? Wrong!
When they started moving people inside, things were going along. Then they started slowing way down. When it got to the point where there were about 10 people in front of us, it simply stopped. Eventually, Len went in to check to see what was happening. That's how we got in. People had been jumping the line, so Len was told that there were scattered seats and VIP reserves left. We had been told that all such reserves would be released at 20 minutes ahead of the screening, and it was almost show time. Then Len got asked if he was a VIP. "Well, I created Wolverine, so I suppose I'm a VIP." "Are you on the list?" "Well, I did R.S.V.P."
The next thing he hears is "I've got one of Mr. Jackman's guests here." So Len and I got in, but our friends, unfortunately didn't. They were quite cool about it, because Len is The Famous Len Wein and they think he's entitled to the perks which sometimes accompany that.
We really enjoyed the movie, but we like big, sweeping, romantic adventures with comic moments a lot. The critics have not been kind, but I intend to see it again in a theatre. It's a BIG picture. Like the other Baz Luhrmann films I've seen, there's an interesting framing device and point of view. This story is mostly told from the POV of a young half-breed Aboriginal child and he's wonderful. I had not read that the "lost generations" was part of the story, since most of the press concentrated on the director and two main stars and the bombing of Darwin (the event of which I was not previously aware, either.) As I've said before, any film where Hugh Jackman takes off his shirt (more than once) and rides horses (for a good part of the show) is a must-see in my book. It is Nicole Kidmann's film, though.
Russell Crowe was originally cast in the part played by Hugh Jackman and Hugh was supposed to play the part that David Wenham has. I will note that I can't recall seeing David Wenham on horseback at all during the film (I might have missed it), but I got the definite feeling from the Lord of the Rings extras documentary on the horses and riders that David Wenham was not much of a rider when he played Faramir. (For all of my horse-friends: if you haven't seen it, the documentary is part of the extended release of The Return of the King, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. Even if you have no interest in the film, you'll enjoy the documentary.) Hugh told a funny story on Jay Leno's show last Thursday night about training to ride in this film. He had a memorable turn on horseback in Central Park in Kate & Leopold, and, while he's not Viggo Mortensen in a saddle, he rides fearlessly.
After the three hour film, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin (Luhrmann's wife and the production designer), and Hugh Jackman came out for a Q&A with a Variety editor. At the time they would have opened the questions up to the audience, they had to shut things down because a midnight showing of Twilight was scheduled for the theatre. Boo, hiss. We managed to get ourselves down to the door where Hugh was being hussled out so Len could say hello in the crush. Hugh looked very tired, but he'd been through a non-stop day.
We tried to find our friends in the restaurant, but it turned out they had eaten early and not used the comp tickets they were given for their troubles. We got home in time to back up the TiVo and watch Hugh's appearance with Leno. Charming, as always.