October 19, 2008

Open letter to HBO

Dear Execs at HBO

Please count my wife and me among the faithful — Daniel Knauf's Carnivale is not only a wonderfully creative exploration of the TV medium, it's a challenging piece of modern art. And yes, I say that even after the second season attempted to somewhat dumb down the show for the ever-disappointing American TV-watching audience. (Props for that admission go to series star Clancy Brown, one of the most eloquent actors I've heard interviewed.)

There are so few genuinely original additions to the popular culture pantheon; when one appears, we all have a responsibility to ensure it has every possible support. It's a crying shame when powers that be pull plugs, especially when motivated by petty things such as money. We, and several of our friends, have purchased both seasons on DVD, doing our part to put our money where are mouths are. What more can we do to encourage you to go on fighting the good fight?

These writers + these filmmakers + this cast = something unique. Please don't lose the opportunity to complete, or least seriously further, this utterly special story arc.

October 8, 2008

Tropic Thunder - film review, better late than never

The inevitable comparisons between Tropic Thunder and Apocalypse Now are somewhat misguided, I feel, since at the very heart of Ben Stiller's magnum opus is the desire to take the piss out of that very film. One should not compare a parody with its target on an artistic level. It's supposed to be similar, and therefore, by its very nature, denies creative comparison.

A similar mistake was made recently when Total Guitar Magazine copped a brain fart and included the Mike Flowers Pops spoof of Wonderwall on its worst cover list; Vegas-style renditions, a la Flowers or the brilliant, aptly named Richard Cheese, are not meant to be good. It's just a bonus if they are (case in point: Cheese's stellar cover of Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf).

Back to the film, luckily, Tropic Thunder is good. Funny in places, most of the time thanks to Robert Downey Jr. Serious in places, interestingly thanks to Jack Black. Hilarious in its pisstake of pretty much every serious war flick since, and including, Apocalypse Now.

October 7, 2008

Robertson Davies - Fifth Business

My knowledge of Canadian literature is admittedly weak, which has recently spawned a trek down must-read lane. My fave so far has got to be Chester Brown's decision to tackle Louis Riel's life story as a graphic novel.

Fifth Business, which I finished reading today, was my first foray into the good work of Mr Robertson Davies, and I have to say it was rather enjoyable (from a dusty-academic-reading-obviously-dated-classic point of view). 

Dunstable (really, "Dunstable"?) Ramsay is, well, a dusty academic writing his life story in an obviously dated way. His life is unremarkable, insomuch as the average person is unremarkable. He went to war, where he lost his leg and fancied that he witnessed a miracle. He returned to Canada lead the life of a bachelor, witness to his best friend becoming both a womanizing adulterer and an astonishingly wealthy man. He followed his passion to write a couple of academically successful books, and subsequently to meet a few eccentrics along the way. Oh, and he just happened to inspire the greatest magician of the modern age. Dan Brown this ain't. But that's a good thing.

Davies's work, at least here, is wonderfully complex in its layering; repeated readings will no doubt present miracles of interpretation. I look forward to the next tome in the trilogy, The Manticore.