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Escaping “Age of Ultron” with “Far from the Madding Crowd”

Is there a more appropriate art film release today than the newest adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 19th century novel “Far from the Madding Crowd”? While I, and hordes of other North American ticket holders, are flocking to experience Joss Whedon’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, there certainly has to be a sizable sampling of weekend movie-goers who couldn’t care less what Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are up to. I feel their pain. Attending a “Twilight” chapter, or one of the “Hunger Games” movies is completely alien to me. Oh, I caught up with a few of them later on home video–and I was mostly sorry I bothered. So, to those uninspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I offer the latest feature from Thomas Vinterberg, he of the Oscar-nominated Danish film, “The Hunt”.

“Far from the Madding Crowd” was most famously a vehicle for actress Julie Christie in 1967, for director John Schlesinger. Of course, Schlesinger’s 1965 “Darling” had won Ms. Christie a Best Actress Oscar at the 38th Annual Academy Awards ceremony. The 2015 version of Hardy’s celebrated book stars the talented Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba, and the marvelous Matthias Schoenaerts (who gave my favorite performance of 2012 in the Oscar-nominated “Bullhead”) as Gabriel Oak. So…sick of superheroes? Why not give “Far from the Madding Crowd” a whirl? Its reviews are tracking slightly stronger than “The Avengers 2” notices…so you can probably fare much worse. Admittedly, I’ll be with the masses today, but I’ll certainly be joining the alternative crowd, by the time the next “Transformers” sequel pops up.     

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