30 December 2006

Happy New Year!

Mall of Sofia“Christmas” shopping

As a formerly communist country, New Years is still a bigger holiday in Bulgaria than Christmas day—nearly everyone is guaranteed a 4-day holiday: December 30, 31, January 1, and 2. Since presents are exchanged on this holiday, the shops and malls were packed Friday and Saturday, so I got to experience two last-minute Christmas shopping rushes this month!

Movies

Yesterday, I watched two movies. With the exception of a few French and Russian flicks, cinemas in Bulgaria show the same Hollywood blockbuster as nearly everywhere in the world, and—many times—premiering on the same weekend as in the US, since all they have to do is add subtitles. The cineplexes in Sofia are all fairly new, with stadium seating like we have back home, but the ticket prices are significantly cheaper: 4 to 6 leva ($2.70-$4.04.)

First, I watch the new (re-make) James Bond film, Casino Royal. I found it to be a clumsy effort, and—as expected with any new actor playing Bond—I didn’t like Daniel Craig in this role; he seems too rough-edged for this role—Bond is supposed to be effortlessly suave. The parkour stunts were cool, but many of the traditional elements were missing, most notably the array of cool gadgets and the nude, female silhouettes in the opening title sequence. Like I’ve always said, the Bond franchise is just not the same since the end of the cold war, a sentiment seconded by Judy Dench’s “M” character in this film–which of course was poignant for me, watching this behind to old iron curtain.

Later that evening, Mirena and I went to see Robert Altman’s final film, A Prairie Home Companion. The star-studded cast (Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, and Tommy Lee Jones) brought in at least a half a dozen Bulgarians who were so bored/disappointed, they left before the end—even Mirena fell asleep. This is to be expected, since it was a sentimental film made for PHC fans (like me.) I wonder who thought it would be a good idea to subtitle and distribute it here.
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