Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conversations 2010, part 5

Our teen librarian recently ordered practically the full run of Brian Wood's DMZ (we had the first volume, which I read a couple of years ago) so I've been working through that lately. I just started volume 6 of 8, and so far it's as good as or better than any movie on a similar subject. For the uninitiated, Manhattan is a demilitarized zone (supposedly) between the Free States of America, barely organized local militias run wild, and the United States, which has essentially been backed into a corner on Brooklyn and Long Island. The overarching premise, however, is much less important than what goes on in Manhattan itself, seen mostly through the eyes of a young journalist who has decided to live there and tell the stories of the people who were left behind in America's second civil war. Read it if you can.

Because of all the comics, I haven't been watching too many movies lately, with the exception of the ones I've written about. I did see Toy Story 3 a few weeks ago, largely due to the glowing reviews from the both of you, Brandon and John. It was a sequel that bettered its forbear, and surpassed even the original in terms of accomplishment. As anyone knows, it's much harder to write a good story with a known quantity, especially one with a property that so many claim ownership of- particular fans all of them, the illiterate ones perhaps even more so. I wondered if it might not have been too intense for the youngest of viewers- as good as the incinerator scene was, it was very traumatic. But, since I don't have any really young kids, I could enjoy it with my twelve-year-old with a clear conscience. Even more so, since it's becoming rarer and rarer to find stuff for him to watch that is appropriate to his life experience and that he truly enjoys.

I'm not even sure it's worth mentioning, but I was so disappointed by Old Dogs that I need to complain publicly even further (Facebook was not enough, apparently, and sorry, John, but I need Facebook so you'll have to be satisfied with my efforts to update this blog more regularly. You're still missing out though, because sometimes my Facebook movie reviews are quite clever and entertaining). The previews were funny- and who can resist actors that I like to watch in a movie I can watch with my whole family? It was so bad I would have quit halfway through if the boy hadn't been enjoying it so much (he's twelve and particularly susceptible to potty humor, as we all were at that age. As, to a degree, I still am). There were a few genuine laughs, and if you can watch the bit where they're camping, do so- Justin Long's performance is the funniest in the film.

Thanks, Brandon, for the reminder about Sunshine- that is a superior example of the sci-fi love story for sure. I bet you could throw The Fountain in there, too, but by "love story" I really mean "chick flick" and The Fountain probably doesn't make that cut.

It's also interesting that you mention The Road. I have purposely avoided watching the film because I want to read the book first. Maybe I make exceptions to my usual rule for Pulitzer-prize-winning novels. That's probably a reasonable concession.

Extract is on my short list. I just keep forgetting about it. I'm probably one of the few people who thought that Idiocracy was political/cultural satire at its most clever. And the real genius of that film is not the plot but the setting and the sets themselves. I almost love that the plot is so inane because it makes the film accessible to a lower common denominator, which means that there are people who would watch Idiocracy and get exposed to some smart commentary who wouldn't be caught dead at Wag the Dog, let's say. Of course, part of the smart commentary involves showcasing the lowest common denominator's obliviousness despite very visible clues to their various dilemmas being right in front of their faces. So, maybe it's a lost cause anyway. Nevertheless, it's a shame that Idiocracy didn't get the promotion it deserved, which sort of proves Judge's point in a semi-tragic twist.

I have Lost and Safe by the Books. It's a very good album; I'm listening to it right now. I've been listening to Dirty Projectors in the car the last few days and enjoying them very much.

I saw Doomsday in the theater with Adrienne. It wasn't at all what I was expecting (a serious zombie movie) so it caught me off guard enough with its campy, over-the-top attitude (which includes the horses and chain mail- bring it on!) that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

John, Peter Conrad recommendation duly noted. If you're into webcomics, have you tried Wondermark or Dr. McNinja?

Lastly, I did finish the first season of Fringe and it didn't let me down. The episode where [SPOILER] they opened the other dimension was as tantalizing an advertisement for season two as one could hope for. It's not a perfect series, but is smart to develop its main characters the way it does. That may be why Dollhouse failed, actually. Though when your main character's personality is changing from episode to episode, maybe you're dooming yourself to failure. Don't get me wrong, I was bummed when they decided to cancel it, but it was work to watch sometimes.

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