What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List
Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware
Privilege, ennui, and nervous anxiety plagued cartoonist and writer Chris Ware and in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth we get a heaping helping of all of these things. Following a multi-generational story that revolves around a boy meeting his father for the first (and last) time, we are driven to explore the unearthly desire to connect and to understand the paralyzing fear at the thought of trying. This is a gut punch and a heart-wrenching story that asks you to look at the people next to you and wonder just what, if anything, you could do for them, what impact you can have.
Ghost World – Daniel Clowes
It is strangely odd to be my age and connecting, in whatever form, with fictional teenage girls. That said, this novel has been on my read-list for a long time and after burning through it this morning I can say that it is possibly one of the best thing’s I’ve ever read. There’s a real sense to the two characters, the way that Enid’s search for an identity revolves completely around not only her friendship with Rebecca but also her desire to find beauty in these strange, odd, unloved things – an ugly diner, a Satanist couple, an awkward old man. Contrast to Rebecca’s realism, her desire to meld more with the way the world is and her desire to stick close to Enid latching onto the town itself. I read this in The Daniel Clowes Reader, a collection of essays and interviews and annotations as well as the comic itself. It’s a gorgeous edition that any fan would love to own.
What We’ve Been Watching
Sphere – You guys, the 90’s were just a different time. In the wake of Jurassic Park‘s success, everyone seemed to think that Michale Crichton adaptations were a guaranteed hit. What followed was Congo, a totally fun misfire, and Sphere, an interesting thought piece about psychology, human interaction, high-stress environments, and giant squid. Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote, and Ted Levine all bring this novel (my favorite of Crichton’s work) to life in an entertaining way, though ultimately in an unsatisfying one. All the right pieces are there in the cast, the score from Elliot Goldenthal is absolutely haunting, even director Barry Levinson does a competent job with the film, but the script went through ultimately three writers and it shows with a scattershot execution. I still beg people to watch this one, it’s just such a blast. I first saw it when I was eleven years old and have loved it every since, flaws and all.
Ghost World – Terry Zwigoff and Dan Clowes got together and turned his wonderful comic into a film! This is a phenomenal adaptation that takes some divergences (at the insistence of the author) but captures the spirit of the graphic novel, the obsession with weirdness and kitsch and hormones, that drove the story to be such a success. Released in 2001 as a finale to the angsty 90’s, this film drew the world into motion in an absolutely stunning way. Also, for you Scarlett Johansson fans, she’s in this. In fact this is probably one of her earliest films and she gives a great performance. While Zwigoff attempted other Clowes films, this is the only one that stands out but it does so with gusto, a must-watch. This is my first time seeing it and I adore it.
The Lego Batman Movie – The Lego films are something of a miracle. In concept they sound like cash-grabs, hell, at the end of the day they essentially are 90 minute toy commercials. But who’s to say commercials can’t be damned entertaining, and that’s what Lego Batman is. Not only is it an outstanding animated kid’s film, it may be one of the best depictions of Batman and his family that we’ve seen thus far. Although the film runs a little thin during the third act, the spectacle of seeing Batman fight foes that were only possible in epic action figure cross-overs never wears off, and the humor and easter eggs are enough to please Bat-fans of any age.
Get Out – The feature film debut of Writer/Director Jordan Peele is a blast. He is able to weave horror and comedy influences effortlessly, and clearly has an eye for both the beautiful and the unsettling. The writing is on point too, subtly setting up big pay-offs, and toeing the line of absurdity before jumping in with glee. The roles are perfectly cast and the performances are spot-on, with noticeable stand-outs from relative newcomer Betty Gabriel and leading man Daniel Kaluuya. Overall, Get Out is a perfect midnight movie that delivers a timely message in a fun and terrifying way.