Friday, July 21, 2006
Camera Obscura - Clerks, Comics and the Comic-Con
The 2006 Comic-Con in San Diego brings out some big names in comics and in movies, and it may well be the Year of the Comic Book since the Post Office will issue a superhero stamp set on Friday. Projects of all types, from graphic novels to new movies and games much more are offered to fans this weekend in a kind of approval-hunt from the real board of directors - the fans who buy and read and often imitate the products offered.
A full list of the weekend's events are offered a IGN.com which includes a public debate/discussion between Depak Chopra and Grant Morrison on the Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes. This weird collision of corporate and private minds is seldom dull and has expanded to include just about any product imaginable. This is a bona-fide cultural stew of ideas and arguments about whether Batman could off Superman or if Halo could off them both.
The super-powered vigilante has been a constant in American culture for more than 60 years, survivng a blistering Congressional investigation in the 1950s, the campy inventions of television in the 1960s and 70s and arrives in the 21st Century with the appropriate computerized effects to tackle issues like the Patriot Act. Comics often stand today as the philosophical musings of the American mind. Often the main characters are there to save us from ourselves or face the wrath of a public who sees them as a menace.
I'd bet cash money many of those who attend will also leave the convention to take in director kevin Smith's newest movie, "Clerks 2." Smith is a major fanboy and a major player in all the creative realms visible at the convention. Smith has created his own universe of characters and events which run all through his productions (well, maybe not "Jersey Girl"). His View Askew production company has had a large presence on the Web via Movie Poop Shoot and his My Boring Ass Life blog.
A fascinating glimpse of how fanatical the fans and the corporate world following Smith's career have become were documented in "An Evening With Kevin Smith." This 224-minute documentary offers Smith in a very relaxed tour of college campuses talking about the minor details of his movies, the high-profile productions that came his way after his cult fame developed and shows his storytelling skills in a very watchable movie. Once I started watching and listening, it simply became impossible to stop. His recounting of the bland and the bizarre events fame provided is a must-see.
Pop culture myth-making is a goal for another filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan, and it's a goal he seldom reaches. One of the most overrated and undertalented writer/directors I've had the awful chore of experiencing may be getting a stiff rebuke this weekend as his movie "Lady In The Water" is released.
Honestly, one OK movie (Sixth Sense) and some truly awful ones (Unbreakable, The Village) has led Night (who names their kid Night?) to this new faux mystery film with a story about "narfs" and "scrunts" and features himself as a Great Misunderstood Writer. I'll pass.
Some years ago I reluctantly attended a screening of the movie "Road House" with Patrick Swayze as the Ultimate Bouncer. Five young women in the audience screamed like swooning banshees throughout the movie, and I admit that the movie was so awful I kinda liked it. Now thanks to the Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fame, you can watch the movie and listen to Nelson's commentary via a new web site called RiffTrax. "We don't make movies, we make fun of them" boasts the advertising. It would be great to see more unauthorized movie commentaries shredding your favorite or least favorite film.
Writer/director Danny Boyle expands his catalog into science-fiction in a movie called "Sunshine," about a last-ditch effort to repair the failing Sun, is currently in production. Boyle has been running throgh the genres of film in movies like "Trainspotting" to "A Life Less Ordinary" to "28 Days Later". A behind the scenes and making of collection of clips available here.
"Night of the Living Dead in 3-D"??? Yes, it's shambling to life.
"Adventures of Brisco County Jr" arrives on DVD as does star Bruce Campbell's other short-lived TV series, "Jack of All Trades."