Movies Good and Bad Dept.

Well, Ray and I saw Queen of the DAMN! this afternoon and it was dogshit. The voiceovers were particularly grating, and the final scenes broke faith with earlier strong positions the film took (early, vampirism = barbarism; late, vampirism = romance). Worst of all, however, is the clear feeling that it was scripted by someone who really did like the book and wanted to make it work and just failed to do so. It’s a never-shoulda-been kind of project. But it’s no Battlefield: Earth or Mission to Mars, which remain two of the worst big-budget films ever made.

Tonight I saw a far better film: Dersu Uzala, a 1974 film by Akira Kurosawa I wasn’t familiar with. It’s based on a memoir written by a pre-revolution Russian officer and explorer who surveyed the frontier of eastern Russia. During his expeditions he traveled with a local hunter/guide, Dersu Uzala, and they became good friends. It’s a story of a guy whose entire life is in the wild, and ultimately how he is just as much a creature of the woods as the animals around him, and equally as unsuited to life in civilization. It’s a sad story but a beautiful one, and the wilderness looks fantastic in Kurosawa’s capable hands.

In between I went by the comic book store for the first time in a couple months and emptied out my box. The standout was the latest issue of Eightball, the series by Daniel Clowes of Ghost World fame. This issue, #22, is perhaps the best yet. It’s the story of a small town, Ice Haven, and a missing child. Instead of doing one story straight through, however, there’s twenty-nine separate stories that overlap and interconnect. Major characters in some stories are minor characters in others, or even just glimpsed in the background of a panel. The cumulative effect is very powerful, a mix of humor, tragedy, and pathos. It’s amazing stuff, completely relying on the medium of comics to work properly. If you haven’t checked in with comics or with Dan Clowes in a while, order a copy of Eightball #22 and be amazed at what a master of the medium can accomplish. No prior knowledge of anything except basic literacy required; it’s a completely self-contained work. Get it.