Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watchmen in trouble?

The weekend box office gross was lower than expected. There are reports of audiences walking out on the movie. And now the screen writer is begging fanboys to go see the movie again this weekend.

Alan Moore said that the comic book was unfilmable, and maybe he was right. What happens when you take a great comic book and slavishly transcribe it to film? You get a great comic book and a mediocre movie. The common complaint among the critics is that the movie is so faithful to the source material that it's embalmed. One of the great joys of the comic book was that it made no attempt to explain itself to the reader--instead it deliberately confused you and gradually revealed itself over the course of 12 issues. Compressing that into a movie, even one with a running time of three hours, is probably impossible.

I've always argued that there's no point in releasing a cover for a song if it sounds exactly like the original. What's the point?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Shintaro Kago

You've got to love teh intertubes--more great free stuff. Some humanitarian has translated and posted up Shintaro Kago comics.

Shintaro Kago comics

Warning: NSFW, unless you happen to work someplace cool.

Wall-E can suck my balls, or how the Japanese do Bambi

How is it that Pixar somehow became the gold standard for American animation when their product is so uniformly mediocre? I read the reviews for "Wall-E", bought a ticket and spent two hours being thoroughly bored. I couldn't even sit through the first fifteen minutes of "Ratatouille". The animation's competently done but it's also bland and sterile and the writing's not even that good. It's a shame that Pixar, with a budget of millions, consistently produces work which is so flavorless. Compare their movies to the classic Warner Brothers shorts, with their swagger and startling cynicism. The best American animation being produced right now is "The Venture Brothers", which has got a fraction of the budget of a Pixar film and exponentially more creativity and life.

Part of the problem is that Pixar makes children's films and in America today that translates to bland and safe. It wasn't always that way--"A Boy Named Charlie Brown" wasn't afraid to tackle issues like failure and end on a downbeat note. And there's always foreign animation, produced in foreign lands where the population is not necessarily convinced that shielding kids from the more unpleasant aspects of life is such a good idea. Somebody's posted up "Chirin no Suzu" on YouTube. Hurry up and watch it before it vanishes to see a cartoon that doesn't dumb itself down just because its target audience is children.

"Chirin no Suzu" on YouTube

Somebody's also posted up "La Maison en Petit Cubes", which is convenient since I can't figure out if its available in iTunes or not.

"La Maison en Petit Cubes" on YouTube