September 29, 2007

Neil Gaiman - The Wake

cover: Neil Gaiman: The WakeHow does one write about Neil Gaiman without falling into cliche, falling into repetition, falling prone at his feet in worship? The man has so rightfully been praised up and freakin' down for his Sandman work that it almost seems silly to chime in with my own reaction.

Perhaps the most useful thing I can say is that this particular volume contains one of the single most moving stories within the Sandman arc: that of Master Li in Exiles. A sparsely illustrated tale of a former counsellor of kings, Exiles exemplifies the complex, challenging, pan-cultural writing that is Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

September 11, 2007

All hail JT

Okay, I know the guy came from cheesy beginnings, but I have to admit the guy's got style. First he brought sexy back. NOW he's bringing back decent comedy. He got a special category Emmy for this, and deservedly so.

SNL Digital Short: Dick in a Box

Bourne again

Sad to say that my summer has been defined not by sunshine and outdoor excursions, but rather by the popular culture consumed on opening weekends. I've only been hiking once yet this year (stair master masquerading as a mountain, the Grouse Grind, notwithstanding), and suffered a migraine for nearly half of that three day excursion -- but I happily devoured both Harry Potter book and movie, the Simpsons feature, and a couple of weeks ago, The Bourne Ultimatum.

The Bourne Ultimatum - Foreign Lobby Poster
Frankly, this string of Bourne films has now outdone every other series of movies I can think of. Each of the triptych is taut, smart and dammit, balls out fun. Matt Damon doesn't damage the movies, as he really doesn't have to flex any acting chops here, per se: his dialogue is limited to perhaps eight lines through the entire film. Don't get me wrong, he's better by far than, say, Keanu Reeves or even his buddy in writing, Ben Affleck. But I think we can all admit that Mr Damon isn't going to win a bevy of performance Oscars any time soon. What he does provide is believability in the role of a seriously dangerous killing machine who can't quite figure out how the hell he gained these skills.

Holy crap do the fight scenes in this flick keep the old juices flowin'. I can't remember the last time I saw this many people visibly energized by a film... People were rocking forward in their seats, faces in their hands, nervously running fingers through their hair... The entire audience was drawn, together, into this outstanding, tense universe of Jason Bourne and the 'properties' on either end of the chase.

There isn't a traditional bad guy, or good guy for that matter, in this series. The hero is a killing machine clawing back from the state of mindlessness instilled in him by his government. Even those in charge of the program have had their disrespect for human lives programmed into them by their superiors and predecessors.

The adjectival gymnastics employed by critics to describe this film are well-deserved. Even more than the first two films, this is a project that transcends genre -- it's by any stretch of the term, a masterpiece of modern art. Every member of the audience at my opening weekend showing of The Bourne Ultimatum left, breathless, limping into the lobby, weary with the glee of having seen the best action film, and one of the best films, made in decades.