I went up to Sac'to to hang out with dragondawn420. We watched a couple movies, in the theater and on video, and had a very nice dinner.
I'm going to set the font-color on the below to white; do a drag-select over it to highlight and make it visible, if you want to read it. If you want to leave comments that are spoilery, and want to try to be polite about such things, my usual technique is to use a ridiculously redundant <span color="#FFFFFF" style="color: #FFFFFF"><font color="#FFFFFF"> ... </font></span>, which should work in pretty much any browser except the text-only ones like Lynx. On those, you're just out of luck.
So, I liked Cuarón's direction a lot. I agree with the critical consensus that he has a better feel for how to make Hogwart's seem like a real place. He doesn't clobber you over the head with the special effects, metaphorically screaming BE IMPRESSED! in your ear every five minutes. He also got bravura performances from Radcliffe and Watson. However, I think Columbus' willingness to make his movies long was commendable. There were four inter-related things missing from this film that I thought hurt it a good deal. First, that Harry never asked Lupin how he knew about the Marauders' Map (he's not a genius like Hermione, but he's not dumb either!); second, that Harry's admiration for his father was not tempered by starting the exposition of the fact that James Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin were themselves no paragons of virtue, and in fact were quite cruel to Snape (AbsintheHearts covered this quite eloquently in a short post over on this thread); third, because we don't get into the past or Lupin's relation to the map, we never find out about the identities of the Map's authors (which adds major significance to the form of Harry's Patronus, which wasn't hugely recognizable from the brief shot of it if you didn't already know what it was); lastly, we never hear why Sirius broke out now (seeing the pic in the Daily Prophet of the Weasleys in Egypt, with Peter-as-rat, and recognizing the threat to Harry's welfare), nor hear anything about how Sirius resisted the Dementors or how he escaped. Fixing these issues would've added maybe 30 or 40 minutes to the film, which would've left it still only just barely over 2.5 hours. I don't think anyone in the audience would've complained. I find Hollywood's general tendency to pare down adaptations so they fit into a two hour block intensely irritating; some books just require longer than that. Would the LotR movies have been any good at all if squished into two hours? I think not. I think Goblet could be done well in 3 hours, and Order in 3.5; I'm afraid I'm going to be seriously disappointed by the next couple of films if they insist on slicing them down to only 2-2.5. Anyways, I'm hoping that they shot more of Azkaban, and just released a trimmed version. I've heard nothing about a "director's cut" (or better, an "author's cut") being prepared for DVD release, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.
We also watched The Company, which is beautiful, and brilliant in its willingness to just observe things happening rather than setting up a contrived plot. Even though it actually is entirely fictional, it almost has the feeling of workplace reality TV shows; the characters feel real enough that you care about them. And the dancing is gorgeous; I'm not usually a huge fan of ballet done to modern music, but I found even the opening number fascinating (it's intensely modern, with digital beeping and thumping; the dancers use long ribbons hanging from sliders up in the catwalks to wrap geometric shapes around themselves, and form crossed patterns). If you have even a passing interest in dance, you must see this film.
For dinner, we went to Tapa the World, which has some very tasty Spanish food (though I don't recommend the tortilla), as well as some more "global fusion" type tapas. (DD had beef tips in an Asian plum and sesame sauce.) The dessert -- a chocolate thing with layers of dense cake and very smooth mousse, with fresh strawberries and a strawberry sangria sauce -- was fantastic. I also tried a madeira, the quintessential Spanish dessert wine, and found it reasonably tasty, if a bit harsh on the front end. Unfortunately I've forgotten the details of its label. :-/
I think on balance I liked the food at the recently-opened local place, Cascal, very slightly better, and it was certainly presented more prettily. But it's also considerably pricier, esp once you account for portion size, so I don't think I'm ever likely to visit it terribly often. *sigh*