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Monday, July 03, 2006

The Monday Briefing (Larry King Stylee) -- It's Monday of an apparent four-day holiday weekend, and I have to go to work; how do other people remember to plan out their vacation time so well? Hey, didja notice Galaxy OG Rob Vollmar is back, with a new satellite blog called Ramble On? You may know Rob as the uber-talented writer of The Castaways and Bluesman, but he was also here on that fateful day back in 2000 when we launched Comic Book Galaxy. I'm thrilled to have him back writing about comics again, as he is one of the most thoughtful and considered commentators on the subject. You might also have seen his comics writings at Ninth Art, and in the pages of The Comics Journal. His first major piece for Ramble On is the first in a series of essays titled Rage of Angels, go take a look.

Watched Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby last night; it's part of my Roger Ebert Film Series, which is really just me going through Ebert's 2006 Movie Yearbook (a wondrous collection of all his critical writing fro the past 18 months or so) and picking out movies that I missed the first time around. Million Dollar Baby was very good, especially in terms of the acting and cinematography. Ebert feels, if I recall his review correctly, that it's virtually perfect with nothing that isn't needed for the film to work as it does. I might disagree a bit on that; I think the first scene with Maggie's hillybilly relatives was a little heavy-handed and could have used a rewrite, and the last half-hour (everything after the final boxing match, basically) could have been condensed, rewritten or disposed of altogether. When the fateful moment occurs, we know what the implications are, and I think we see a bit too much of the natural course of events from then on out. The movie was shot from the first draft of Paul Haggis's script, and maybe that's my problem. Seems to me it would have been wise to tighten up the last part of the story. But up until that, it is perfect, and overall is still an excellent film and well worth your time if you haven't seen it.

Also watched, on Ebert's recommendation, a kinda-sorta sci-fi film called Primer. It allegedly cost $7000.00 to make, and unlike Ebert, I think it looks that way, although that's not a criticism, just an observation -- the look totally works for the purposes of the film. What didn't totally work was the film itself; its early Bendis-like dialogue (a bunch of only semi-convincing technobabble designed to overcome the viewer's disbelief at what a certain invention can do) gives way to vague intimations of goings-on only partially discernable. It's possible I wasn't watching closely enough (although I felt I was giving the film my full attention), but it seemed to me like the film really lost track of its own timeline(s), moments and motivations. At the middle I was intrigued by the Lathe of Heaven-like possibilities, but by the end I was just glad it was over and a little exhausted from trying to keep straight a film I suspect even the director couldn't explain. That can work when the focus is on tone and feeling, but Primer is not about tone and feeling, and if it is, it is not about it very convincingly.

Oh, hey, I wrote a review over the weekend, did you see it? Better late than never, I look at Jaime Hernandez's Ghost of Hoppers, which is some damn fine comics. Read the review, more importantly, buy the book. Good stuff. Will Maggie ever not be hot?

All right, the sun's coming up and the day awaits. If you're in the US and enjoying the day off, well, enjoy your day off.

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