odds and ends

Although The Oscars were last weekend, Ellen and I are just now getting a chance to see many of the nominated movies as they are released on DVD. Last weekend, we took in Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s latest confection.

Ellen and I enjoyed it- it struck me that Allen was playing fantasy baseball with the great writers and artists of the 20th century, but in an enjoyable, funny way. I think this was aided by Owen Wilson’s lead performance.

Male leads in Woody Allen movies are often hidebound by Allen’s idiosyncratic writing style; most of the times, it seems like those characters exist as stand-ins for Allen himself. Sometimes this leads to actors just doing a stilted Allen impression, but Wilson goes above and beyond here. I thought he made the character of Gil Pender his own by infusing Allen’s dialog with some of his laid-back rhythms and line-reads. It’s sort of a great feat.

My only lingering problem with the flick were the portrayal of most of the female characters They seemed fo fall: into one of two categories: shrill and abrasive (Gil’s fiance Inez and her mother) or overly accommodating to the male protagonist (Gertrude Stein, Adriana, the women who runs the antique shop). The women in Midnight in Pars either exist to slow Owen Wilson’s character up and make him feel guilt… or to praise his abject genius to the hilltops. I thought this was lazy on Allen’s part, especially when we know how much better he can do at crafting roles for women.

I would try not to let that get in your way of enjoying Midnight in Paris though. It’s a beautiful looking movie though, lingering over a cinematic dream of Paris.

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My sister sent me an advanced copy of Derf Backderf’s My Friend Dahmer and it’s amazing. I’m already a fan of Derf’s work- his Punk Rock and Trailer Parks was the best comic I read in 2011 and My Friend Dahmer is on track for “Best of 2012,” at least so far. It’s a fascinating story. Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most heinous serial killers ever known… and Derf went to high school with him. Further, he was friendly with Dahmer; they weren’t close, but for a time, Dahmer ran in Derf’s circle of friends as a kind of whacked-out mascot.

Derf’s artistic style is sort of hyper-cartoony and reminds me of some of my favorite underground/alternative comics… very appropriate for capturing the unbalanced nature of Dahmer’s teenage years. The author has clearly done his research, and fills out the book with heavily researched anecdotes and first-person accounts of the times where Derf wasn’t around.

Seriously, check it out- very awesome.

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Finally, I direct you to this blog post where Dan Aykroyd admits, once and for all, that Bill Murray will NOT be appearing in Ghostbusters 3.

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand… I’m elated. I don’t hold high hopes for any Ghostbusters sequels and having Murray eschew the new ones will clearly draw a line in the sand between the old and the new. On the other hand, I’m bummed out that Murray won’t be in the movie… and that they’re even making the movie to begin with.

Seriously, although my gut reaction is “Why make the movie without Bill Murray?” I do understand why a new Ghostbusters movie will eventually haunt theaters. The property remains popular. Many of my students have and wear the “no ghosts” tee shirt.  Heck, Blues Brothers 2000 notwithstanding, I have a lot of love for Dan Aykroyd. Come back tomorrow to see just how much…

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