This weekend, I had an incredible amount of writing to accomplish. So I only allowed myself two breaks, and I stuffed them with two movies.

I chose wisely.

The two I chose have a few things in common. Both films take us to London. Both bring beloved characters to life (one fictional, one historical). And both of those characters are… shall we say… well-rounded?

PaddingtonOtherwise, they’re completely different. One is a complete surprise. It’s an adaptation of classic children’s literature, but the trailer was so appallingly bad, promising a movie overstuffed with the worst tendencies of hyperactive kiddie entertainment, that I was tempted to start a petition to have the film buried before it ever reached theaters. But opening-weekend reviews caught me by surprise. I can’t think of a case in which the film itself turned out to be so much better than its trailer.

The other film? My expectations were high. The director — Mike Leigh — is one of my favorites. And I’d been hearing raves for many months since it made the festival circuit.

As I’m still scrambling to get my assigned writing done, I only gave myself time to jot down first impressions of both films at my Letterboxd film journal. Here they are: Initial thoughts on Paddington and Mr. Turner. Catch both movies if you can.

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