Picks and Pans
Mutual Appreciation—Andrew Bujalski's terrific followup to Funny Ha Ha (one of my favorite films of last year). This one's available through the website for now (will it see distribution?)—it's funny, sharply observed, rather brilliantly uncomfortable. I popped this one into the player at around 11 last night, expecting to watch only about half an hour, and was glued for the nearly two-hour running time. A must-see!
Wet Hot American Summer—I'm one of maybe four people nationwide who really enjoyed The Baxter, and so I thought I'd check out this earlier Showalter-scripted (though not directed) movie. Bad idea! It would have been nice to linger on the warm feelings stirred by Mutual Appreciation for at least another day...but alas. Basically I wanted to get this over with and back in the postage-paid Netflix envelope as soon as possible. WHAS seemed annoyingly trivial to me, a failed parody, a stoner's...what was I saying? Somehow this held almost zero appeal for me.
Charles Burns, Black Hole—If this were a D&D character, it might be "lawful evil." By which I mean: the nightmare quality is distilled into frames of airtight execution. The atmosphere is extreme and elegant, the tone satirical and dead serious. If you have a taste for this sort of thing, it's pretty hard to put down.
Osamu Tezuka, Buddha (volume 1)—I've had this on the shelf for a long time, and now that all eight have been translated and published, I decided to dig in. I'm not a manga maniac, but this zips along nicely. Will I read them all? Signs point to yes.
R. Kikuo Johnson, Night Fisher—A seemingly autobiographical tale that evokes the less-rosy side of life in Hawaii. There are a few too many misspellings for my taste, but this is nicely balanced with island particulars. A weird complaint—it's a Fantagraphics title, but somehow the reproduction seems off; the darks are too dark. (Cf. the perfectly pitched shadows in the Burns.) Still, I'd love to see more. And RKJ has a brief sketch of Audubon in the recent Believer, done in a completely different—let's call it feathery—style, which I dig. (Read Dizzyhead Chrita's Crisis/Boring Change for a more nuanced take. And the illo he reproduces looks better than I remembered.)
Right now I'm chatting simultaneously with two friends via Gmail's new feature. It's fun but I think this might spell the end of all productivity. Or will I become the man of the future?
Postscript: Book 'em!
Over the weekend I visited Gotham Book Mart, in its (relatively) new location—a first for me. This may be sacrilege—but I think I prefer the new digs. Roomier, better air quality, but still has a creaky uniqueness. I picked up Laird Hunt's The Impossibly (albeit at full price), which Mark Kamine wrote about so intriguingly in a recent Believer piece, and Rachel Ingalls's The Pearlkillers, a book I've been trying to get since I began reading her. My stack was actually quite large, but I put most of it back, anticipating many future visits. (Ominously, there's a B&N on the corner, which I'd never seen before—here's hoping it's a complementary relationship.)
Thanks to Dizzyhead Brent for this investigation into the music used in The Royal Tenenbaums, a Dizzies favorite.