I spent a delightful morning in Paddington’s London, followed by an afternoon of modern art and photography at the San Francisco MOMA. Both offer a welcome respite from the ugliness of Trump’s America. (“If you’re kind and polite, the world will be right” vs. “shithole countries.”)
Paddington 2 opened today here in the US, and right now the movie has 100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I went to the early bird bargain matinee at the San Francisco Cinemark Century 9. I was happy to find that they’d installed recliner seats, although the leg rest went up without the back reclining. Instead, the raked rows of recliners have a solid partial wall behind each of them that block your view to everything in front but the screen. It’s nice not seeing people check their phones and fidget, but it’s also a bit isolating.
Paddington 2 is a treat from beginning to end. The production design is colorful and creative. The cast is top-notch. The effects appear effortless, which is a tribute to the efforts of the many people who bring the bear to life. The story is engaging for adults like me, and presumably fine for the kids, too. (I didn’t take any with me.) Honestly, I can’t think of anything to criticize. Wait, just one thing. The closing credits have a lot going on, delightful things that you shouldn’t miss, but you won’t actually read the credits while they’re happening. That’s okay for me though, because I will be seeing the movie again.
Ben Whishaw once again provides the voice of Paddington. Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville are back as the Browns, and their kids (Samuel Joslin and Madeleine Harris) have done a lot of growing since the last film. Feisty Julie Walters and cranky Peter Capaldi are back, too. Joanna Lumley isn’t onscreen for long, but she makes the most of her time. I love Tom Conti in anything, and Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) and Eileen Atkins have fun cameos. Brendan Gleeson and all the actors rocking pink stripes are terrific, and Hugh Grant is clearly having a good time hamming it up. He deserves his BAFTA nomination for the closing credits alone.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art currently features a Walker Evans exhibit with over 300 prints, and it’s just a few blocks from the cinema. The San Francisco Public Library has a program called Discover & Go, offering free passes to many of the museums, swimming pools, and attractions in the Bay Area. All you need is an SF library card. The pass for the MOMA is good for 2 adult admissions (kids under 18 are already free), and you just need to make your reservation the month before.
Walker Evans (1903-1975) was an American photographer best known for his depression-era photographs for the Farm Security Administration. Not surprisingly, the rooms featuring these photographs were the most crowded. The Walker Evans exhibit is divided into two parts, with the museum cafe located in between. Some of the prints are tiny, and they include early self-portraits from photo booths. There were also materials on display by other people that Evans collected. I love photos of faces, so I was drawn to the portraits, especially the ones from the 1937 Mississippi flood and the subway series. Other featured subjects include posters, signs, store windows, trash, tools, architecture, and African objects.
I also explored the Robert Rauschenberg exhibit, then visited the other floors with Lichtenstein, Mondrian, Warhol and Rothko. Many other artists too, of course, but these guys even I recognize without having to check the description. It wasn’t too busy on any of the floors, so a great day to explore the collections. The gift shop on the ground floor is always worth a visit, too.
For a few hours today, the world was right.