Barbarella begins in the fur-lined cockpit of a space-faring starcraft, fabulously appointed with a statue of a moon goddess and, inexplicably, what looks to be a full-sized replica of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. Despite the high-flown frivolity of its conception and the infectiously groovy theme song, this tableau does not represent the most quintessentially with-it of all possible sci-fi worlds. That changes when the astronaut who has floated into view starts pulling off the different panels of her moon-suit to reveal, underneath the shapeless layers of scuba-like gear, a naked strawberry-blonde with slender, delicate fingers and legs that don’t quit.
I think my iPhone is a great piece of hardware, but here’s the kind of thing that makes me think twice about giving Apple my money. In this interview from Print magazine’s Imprint blog, Kim Munson talks about an iOS and Android app she developed called Comix Classics: Underground Comics based on Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, a book and exhibition on the history of underground comic-book art. The Android version is complete; there is no review process for apps published in the Android marketplace. The iPad version, happily, is also complete. But the iPhone version is missing 16 specific images that Apple demanded be removed before the app could be approved.Continue reading
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an exotic multiplex confection – a romantic comedy with elements of its visual grammar swiped from comic books and videogames. It’s tempting to say that people who are sick of conventional Hollywood love stories will find a bracing alternative here but, unfortunately, Scott Pilgrim isn’t much of a love story, unless the affair you’re interested in is the one between a boy and his cultural totems. If that’s the case, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World should be hugely entertaining. It’s a visual knock-out with the sensibility of a pinball machine, caroming from one set piece to the next, turning on lights and spinning little flippy things and ringing bells. It’s not Speed Racer – it remains genuinely character-focused and never aims to overwhelm. But it’s playful, borrowing concepts like power-ups and extra lives from the RPGs and adventure games that have made them an intuitive part of a certain kind of narrative grammar for a generation.
When the original Watchmen comic-book series began publishing, with a cover date of September 1986, the Cold War was still reality. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a battleground where it faced off against the U.S.-armed mujahideen, was still grinding on, and the threat of nuclear annihilation was nightmare material for anyone who lived near a big city in the U.S. The so-called “Doomsday Clock,” a symbolic creation of atomic scientists that attempted to quantify the likelihood of global nuclear war, was set at three minutes to midnight. I was a teenager in Pueblo, Colorado, living about 35 miles from the NORAD facility inside Cheyenne Mountain, where the military kept an eye out for a Soviet nuclear-missile attack. Movies like Dr. Strangelove and War Games, which had scenes set inside NORAD’s war room, had a special resonance on the Colorado’s Front Range. So did Watchmen.
Writer Alan Moore on the upcoming film adaptation of his (and Dave Gibbons’, of course) graphic novel Watchmen:
“Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it’s been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come.”
Source: Hero Complex, September 18, 2008
SPOILERS FOR THE DARK KNIGHT ABOUND.
The funniest thing I’ve read all week is conservative author Andrew Klavan’s opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal comparing George W. Bush to Batman. It’s not that I dismiss the points Klavan makes about the movie’s deliberate reflection of war-on-terror politics, or even that I don’t sympathize with his clearly felt exasperation over the general dismalness of left-leaning message movies like In the Valley of Elah and Redacted. (Klavan doesn’t even bother to mention Lions for Lambs, which is probably the worst of last year’s lot.) But when Klavan writes, in all apparent seriousness, that there’s “no question … The Dark Knight … is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war,” it’s clear that he’s got no sense for what’s special about The Dark Knight — no feeling for its overwhelming grimness, no appreciation of the abject post-9/11 civilization it depicts, which is dominated by acts of savage violence and wanton fear and the chaos that spreads city-wide like a contagion when those elements are combined. What’s hilarious is Klavan’s effort to identify the most despairing summer blockbuster in memory — it could be the bleakest big-budget adventure since Blade Runner tanked on release near the dawn of the Reagan era — as a ringing endorsement of the current Washington establishment.
Spoilers below for Batman Begins and The Prestige.
For some reason, seeing Batman Begins after a couple of go-rounds with The Prestige — which actually works as a sort of companion piece — made a huge difference in how I read it. For one thing, the complexity and intensity of the characters in The Prestige, and that film’s signature idea of recursive psychological torture and physical self-sacrifice, worked as a new angle for my approach to the earlier movie. The Prestige reaches its climax only after magician Robert Angier’s quest for vengeance — which would come, for him, in the guise of a perfect illusion — culminates in the creation of a potentially endless series of doubles, each of which is drowned, night upon night, in a chilling act of self-flagellation. Once the first, magical, bifurcation occurs, it becomes impossible to say in a meaningful or definitive way which version of Angier is real, and which one is the copy — if, after the first duplicate has been made, that distinction has any meaning at all. Angier reaches the terminus of his journey, and finally works some real magic. But only at heinous cost.