Monday, May 15, 2006

Comic Book Films

So there, like, a slew of them coming out this summer. This past weekend my girlfriend and I went and saw the one I was most looking forward to, Art School Confidential. It may not have the advertising blitz of X-Men or Superman, but it has Dan Clowes, one of comics' most talented and observant writers.

This was Clowes' first foray into screenwriting, I believe. An adaptation of a short piece he did that cracked me up the first time I saw it. It was a pretty scathing critique of art school culture, and, I can say, a pretty dead-on one. So they took the three or four pages of gags and made a feature of it (they being Clowes and his film collaborator, Terry Zwigoff).

Is it as good as a Clowes comic? No, it isn't, but very few things are these days. The plotlines attatched to the gags at first seem arbitrary, but midway through it's almost as if Clowes finds his confidence and just incorporates them into his satire. Those who claim Clowes is a self-absorbed misanthropist might think they find evidence for their claims in this film. Not many people come out smelling very well. One of my favorite aspects of the film is how the central character is played very sympathetically until the viewer finally realizes, like his friend, that he's just a pathetic douchebag. The heroine is equally flawed . . .both of them are in love not with each other but with image. They think themselves above the petty art school posing, that they really want "great art," but their two "kisses" . . .when he kisses the picture he drew of her, and when they kiss through a glass partition, betrays their actual love. He loves the image of her, and she loves how he sees her.

Anyway, it was a very funny film with some very smart bits in it. Jim Broadbent is frickin' great in it, Malkovich does a very good job, and the gags are funny. I recommend the movie, especially if you have attended art school at any point in your life. (The transformation of Ethan Suplee into Kevin Smith was a wonderful jab, by the way.)

So, yeah, later in the month X-Men 3 is coming out. The first one was an OK dumb movie and the second one was actually pretty good. But trading Singer in for Rattner? I don't know if I'll waste my time. I WILL waste my time on Superman, and I'll even hope the time isn't a waste. The trailer looks fun, even with Kevin Spacey being Kevin Spacey. We'll see. But the one I wanted to be good the most, well, it was damn good.

2 Love Letters:

Blogger aaron dumin said...

Clowes co-wrote the screenplay for "Ghost World" with Terry Zwigoff, as well, making this Clowes' second foray into screenwriting.

9:07 AM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

Solo foray, I should have said. Thanks.

9:11 AM


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